Reflections on Doing, Being, Belonging and Becoming Occupational Therapy Students on Paddleboard Placement by Molly Thompson and Alex Belmonte, 1st Year Napier Occupational Therapy Students.

Molly Thompson and Alex Belmonte, 1st year Napier Occupational Therapy Students.

Supported by
Claire Hedley, NHS NES & Joanne Todd, OT Unit Manager, NHS Lanarkshire

We started our first Occupational Therapy placement In August 2022 with Central Scotland
Adventures, whose aim is to make paddleboarding accessible to all whilst benefiting the local
community. Central Scotland Adventures is a social enterprise started by Rab and Jos Wallace,
and is based at Auchinstarry Marina, Kilsyth. This is a Role Emerging, Project Based, Peer
Assisted Learning Placement which is managed through long-arm supervision, meaning there
are no Occupational Therapists working on site.

At first it was unclear to us as to how a paddleboarding social enterprise could fit into an
occupational therapy placement. Regardless, we were still interested as most of us have
enjoyed paddleboarding recreationally. We had not fully considered paddleboarding through an
occupational therapy lens. Occupational therapy’s unique approach embraces how everyday
occupations impact our health and wellbeing. Occupations refer to the everyday activities that
people do as individuals, in families and with communities to occupy time and bring meaning
and purpose to life. These include things people need to, want to and are expected to do
(WFOT, 2022).

As the placement progressed, we started to see paddleboarding through the lens of
occupational therapy and how transformational this activity can be. Doing, being, belonging, and
becoming (Wilcock & Hocking, 2015) is a core concept about how people experience
occupations and what this means to them. For ourselves within this placement, we have
learned how this applies to both the clients at Central Scotland Adventures and ourselves. This
was our journey:

Doing relates to the active engagement and skill necessary for the occupation. Our doing within this placement has been our active engagement in paddleboarding and the doing of Occupational Therapy
students. As this is a paddleboarding placement, we’ve been
paddleboarding several times a week. Before the placement, we had both paddleboarded before. However, beginning this placement, we were taught how to do this with the proper techniques. including standing paddling and manoeuvring on the board in different weather and water conditions.

As Occupational Therapy students we have been carrying out an activity analysis of the
different components of paddleboarding, identifying the physical, cognitive, and psychological
skills required to engage in paddleboarding. We have also been working with clients, using our
unique Occupational Therapy Skills of Identifying, assessing, analysing, prioritizing, facilitating,
evaluating and reflecting to help individuals adapt and grade the activity and support them in
achieving their goals and ultimately fulfilling an occupation.

Being relates to being in the moment and having quiet time essential for contemplation and
reflection. Additionally, it applies to the roles we occupy, in our case, being occupational therapy

We have been based at Auchinstarry Marina from which we have been paddleboarding on the
canal. We have found paddleboarding to be a relaxing activity, and the evidence on blue spaces
supports the therapeutic potential of spending time around water. For us, being out on the
paddleboards has given us a feeling of calm and freedom.

This placement has been our first opportunity at being Occupational therapy students on
placement, and supporting clients to engage in meaningful occupations. This has been one of
our favourite aspects of the placement as it has been rewarding seeing clients enjoying
themselves and doing things they did not think was possible.

Belonging refers to the social aspect of an occupation where one
would feel like they are contributing to and benefiting from it.
Relationships, families and communities engage in occupational
together, but through engaging occupations these can also be
formed. As we hone our skills and build relationships with Central
Scotland Adventures and the people at Auchinstarry Marina
(clients and residents), we are both learning from them and
feeling part of the community. It has been great working
alongside the team and learning from their wealth of knowledge.
We have started to feel like we belong to the Occupational
Therapy profession. Although it is a role emerging placement,
we have been working with Occupational Therapists in NHS
Lanarkshire Mental Health Teams and NHS Education for Scotland through long-arm
supervision and tutorials. Through working with these clinicians we have been able to reflect on
our placement experiences and how we are applying the Occupational Therapy skills. We are
beginning to develop our professional identity and how we fit into the wider professional sphere.

Becoming relates to the transformational ability to change, develop and look forward through
engaging in occupations. Through the placement and spending a lot of time outdoors, we are
understanding the importance of occupational balance and how essential it is for us to make
time to do things outdoors that we enjoy. We have both developed a greater appreciation for the
outdoors and activities we can do there. Once our placement is over we are planning to
continue paddleboarding and try some new outdoor activities.

As our first of four placements, this placement has been a milestone in becoming qualified
Occupational Therapists. We have learned so much we didn’t expect to learn and we will be
taking it all forward with us. We have realised the vast opportunities and possibilities of
Occupational Therapy and we are excited and passionate about our future careers!

Special thanks to….Central Scotland Adventures (@CentralScot4), Joanne Todd, Occupational
Therapy Unit Lead, NHS Lanarkshire (@NHSLOT), Napier University (@OTEdinNapier1) and
Claire Hedley, NHS NES (@ClaireAHPed / @NESnmahp) for supporting this project.

Contact information –
Claire Hedley, Uni-Professional Practice Education Lead, NHS NES., @ClaireAHPed

#NES #studentPrBL #placementrecovery


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