The third Annual Student Occupational Therapy Conference took place on 18 September 2015, and the event was an opportunity for the University to showcase students’ excellent work.
This year the central theme of ‘Inspiration in Occupational Therapy’ took the invigorating impact of the conference to new heights. Organised by the students, ably led by Jason Schultz (second year student) and facilitated by Fiona Burbeary (Senior Lecturer), the conference opened to a gripping fusion of presentations from experienced clinicians and expert service users.
Dr Alex Palombi, a recent doctoral graduate from the University of Northampton and now Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at University of the West of England, shared her insights into the research journey and her studies into lifestyle redesign for people with Parkinson’s disease. Maxine Cozens, an Occupational Therapist of DMRC Headley Court spoke of the value of developing genuinely therapeutic relationships in her work with veteran servicemen and women facing less visible injuries from front line service. Rosie Curtis, an Occupational Therapist with Help for Heroes shared her experience of working with this large and influential charity. Both Rosie and Maxine have been instrumental in enabling Andy Millard to piece his life adequately back together following an accident – Andy is now training to become an occupational therapist himself, and is in his second year.
Jo Rose sustained a severe head injury several years ago and made a powerful presentation about the impact occupational therapy has had on her life. She had prepared for the day over several weeks as an integral part of her ongoing therapy programme at Grafton Manor. Other service users shared their experience of services at St Andrews Hospital and gave potent insights into effective therapy. The conference was brought to a rousing close by the now renowned ‘Singing for Breathing’ group. The singers, all with respiratory illnesses, sang a medley of rugby songs to demonstrate the multi -dimensional gains they are enjoying as a result of this outstanding project conceived and driven by Angela Prouse and James Wyatt (third year students). Angela and James have both been shortlisted for Student of the Year as a result of this project.
The conference was generously sponsored by Irwin Mitchell, with whom the Occupational Therapy Subject Group (in particular Karen Beaulieu and Sara Simons) have worked closely on numerous projects.
Papers were presented across all levels of study and areas of practice. MSc and BSc graduates returned from practice to share their work and inspire current students to aim high. Current students presented work from last year again demonstrating excellence. Sue Griffiths (Principal Lead for OT) commented: “Irwin Mitchell’s generosity and collaboration has enriched the student experience here at the University of Northampton. We are so proud of the high quality of academic work our students presented again this year.”
Next year, the University of Northampton will be celebrating 75 years of educating occupational therapists, and aim to raise the standard once again.