What happens when you truly believe, are brave, courageous and daring?

Claire Hedley, OT Practice Education Lead, NHS NES, @ClaireAHPed. Claire.hedley@nhs.scot

I am an Occupational Therapist, currently on secondment with NHS NES to recover, modernise and ensure sustainable OT Practice Education into the future – not a small remit! One of these practice education experiences was to supervise a group of 5 students on a placement looking to identify the social, emotional and wellbeing benefits of Paddleboarding as a meaningful and purposeful occupation. 

When I first had my discussion with Central Scotland Adventures about this placement, I never once thought that this would come to fruition, it was a risk, perhaps a crazy idea, but one that I truly believed in.  Being a paddleboarder myself, I could see and sense the benefits to individuals and the role that Occupational Therapy could play in this, you could say I felt it in my gut! Brene Brown sums up what I felt as I approached NES and Napier University to discuss this idea, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” I was absolutely willing to show up and be seen, but had no guarantee of the outcome and to be honest, I thought they would all laugh me out the park!! It turns out that my risk and showing my vulnerability was the birthplace of innovation, creativity, change and collaboration.

As Occupational Therapists, our professional body, have set out a clear a strategy and vision.  They have said that we need to impact, challenge, elevate and respect.  In this we need to rise up, open up, lift up and build up. 

As the discussions progressed for the placement and it was agreed that 5 MSc Students would join Central Scotland Adventures for 8 weeks, I had my lightbulb moment and realised that the journey that I was on, was clearly showing the strategic priorities and values of my profession.

Rise Up – I was being bold and a progressive advocate for the profession and (hopefully!) showing what the power of occupational therapy could do.

Open up – We joined forces and formed alliances, this allowed people to see that Occupational Therapy could be a solution to their needs.

Lift Up­ – We lifted our team throughout the journey on placement and enabled them to take safe risks and allow them to develop. Creating our Occupational Therapists of the future.

Build Up – we created a dynamic, values driven placement that enabled all involved to achieve their purpose.

Our values as Occupational Therapist are ;

We impact – we make meaningful differences with all our work, we allowed safe space to talk, to discuss or just to be.  We go above and beyond for the people who need us – offering intervention while on a paddleboard on the Forth and Clyde canal in a Scottish Autumn – this qualifies as above and beyond!

We Challenge – We find new and better ways to make things happen – I took the risk, believed in an idea and those supporting it and showed a new way for Occupational Therapy to be delivered. We were brave and bold in our ideas and actions – I certainly chose courage over comfort, and this was certainly a bold idea! We challenge ourselves, each other, and the status quo – As a team we challenged the status quo, there were individuals who didn’t believe this could happen, and didn’t see the value of it for our future OT’s, we set out to find the evidence that it could. 

We Elevate – 5 students from Napier took the risk to come on this placement, knowing very little about it, they worked hard and throughout the placement I lifted them up and supported them to be and do their best. We were accessible and collaborative, collaboration between 4 organisations was key to success of this placement – NHS NES, NHS Lanarkshire, Central Scotland Adventures and Napier University, all of whom lifted me up and supported me, when I wasn’t sure if this would work! We united and moved forward together!

We Respect  – We value each other and celebrate our differences, we were approachable, genuine and trustworthy and shared our vulnerabilities throughout, we listen to others and truly believed everyone’s views should be heard.

What happens when you truly believe in an idea and those around you?

What happens when you are brave, courageous and daring?

What happens when you take a step out of your comfort zone?

You create innovative and modern placements, that truly show the value of Occupation! My advice, show up, take that risk, believe in that idea and be brave.

Thanks to those that believed in this idea and ultimately believed in me..

Jos & Rab Wallace, Central Scotland Adventures, @CentralScotlan4

Ailsa Gillen, @AGOTNESPAL, and Ailidh Hunter, @ailidhAHPed,  NHS NES @NMAHP

Dawn Drury, Formerly Napier University, now Teesside University, @DDawnOT

April Michie and Joanne Todd, NHS Lanarkshire, @NHSLOT

References – Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 2022, https://www.rcot.co.uk/our-values

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.


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