Coaching Parents Online – My Final Year OT Student Placement – Lois, RGU

Hello, everyone! My name is Lois Taylor, I am a fourth-year occupational therapy student from Robert Gordon University RGU (Aberdeen) and I have just finished my final year OT placement at bOunceT. One of my key responsibilities this year was to be involved in a new and upcoming project where I followed the evidence and research of ‘bring in’ Occupational Performance Coaching (OPC) with families. The ‘OPC project’ was guided by a learning manual created by former bOunceT student, Andrea from QMU in Edinburgh as she developed this fantastic resource as part of her research/honours project, after having a successful placement with the service at the start of this year. This manual is very detailed, referenced, but still easy to read and follow – she even went the extra mile to link bOunceT’s blue and yellow branding into the document!

At bOunceT, their therapeutic play sessions is typically the main ‘intervention’ delivered by the Occupational Therapy (OT) team. However, OPC is an evidence based intervention which is an ’emerging’ approach used by OT’s across the world, and as a result of adapted/new ways of working due to COVID-19, I piloted using OPC at bOunceT over roughly 4 – 5 weeks.

OPC is an approach which focuses on ensuring families/parents are listened to and understood, in order for them to feel empowered and confident in achieving what they need and want to do as a family. OPC is based upon providing families and parents/caregivers opportunities to feel confident, competent to create and use new ideas and strategies with the guidance and support from an Occupational Therapist. Each individual parent/service user can receive up to 10 sessions in total, however, these can be adapted and altered in order for parents/caregivers to achieve their identified OPC goals. 

One page from our manual

For me, this has been a fantastic learning opportunity, as I have been able to work in partnership to establish different ‘OPC Goals’ with two different families/parents.
As an introduction to the OPC process, I was able to follow Andreas ‘OPC Manual’ which guided me through the explanation of OPC an a new ‘intervention’ to potential families who were interested and keen to start the process. I also had each parent/caregiver to identify their own goals in their own words to increase their motivation to achieve each of their goals separately.

After goals are identified, then strategies can be implemented to achieve said goals and to increase parents/caregivers’ level of competence and confidence in their own role. For example, asking what their priorities are and clearly identifying what is important to them really helped consolidate the core elements of OPC as an occupation-focused intervention . I also found that having them reflect upon their week through taking notes after their sessions was really beneficial, as parents/caregiver visually could recognise what worked, what needs further development and why this was the case. This then further encouraged problem-solving and decision-making which are key elements in encouraging parents/caregivers to create new and exciting strategies to achieve their OPC goals!

Goals are also measured at the beginning, during and at the end of the OPC process. I was able to use an Occupational Therapy Assessment called the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure or COMP with each of the families. This provided opportunities for parents/caregivers to ‘measure’ their current abilities in achieving their identified OPC goals on a ten-point scale, 1 being the least and 10 being the most. It also provides details about why the parent/caregiver has rated their level of importance, satisfaction, and competence at a specific number. Detailing this information at the start of the OPC process was great along with identifying clear and specific goals with families to ensure they had a structure and plan in place for each OPC session.

There are also other services within bOunceT which you can be involved with for example, using Meaningful Moments cards which are a ‘set’ of play cards which can be tailored to your child’s physical, sensory and social needs.

These can also be use alongside OPC interventions, as some OPC goals may also link into some of the skills identified during play, which are further outlined on the activity cards themselves!

Thank you very much for reading my blog about this interesting experience. Lois 🙂

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