Ian – OT Student Placement (QMU – Queen Margaret University)

Hello! My name is Ian and I am a 1st Year Occupational Therapy student at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. I recently completed a six-week practice placement at bOunceT along with my fellow student Jenny.

As a first OT placement, it was a fun, interesting, supportive, and rewarding place to be. bOunceT showed me how some of the OT theory we had learned about during class could be applied in the context of play services for children and young people with disabilities in Scotland.

               There are several pieces of legislation and policy that the Scottish Government has produced with regard to protecting and promoting the interests and rights of children and young people in Scotland. These include the Play Strategy: Action Plan (2013) and Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) (2006) whose aims are outlined below.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S PLAY STRATEGY FOR SCOTLAND: ACTION PLAN, 2013 “The fun and pleasure of playing is a vital part of a happy childhood… High quality play opportunities and provision of a physical and social environment that supports play increase the likelihood of improved outcomes for children and lessen the impact of factors that lead to poorer outcomes.” GIRFEC, 2006 The Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach supports children and young people so that they can grow up feeling loved, safe and respected and can realise their full potential. At home, in school or the wider community, every child and young person should be: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included    

The role of an Occupational Therapist is to support people of all ages to live as independently as possible by considering and helping them to fulfil all their physical, psychological, social and environmental needs, with the aim of empowerment and achieving a sense of purpose and life satisfaction. https://www.rcot.co.uk/about-occupational-therapy/what-is-occupational-therapy   

It became clear to me after completing online training at bOunceT that the policies introduced by the Scottish Government fit well with the Royal College of Occupational Therapy guidelines which all Occupational Therapists must adhere to, as outlined below.

RCOT Guidelines and GIRFEC: 3.2.1.2 You enable individuals to preserve their individuality, self-respect, dignity, privacy, security, autonomy and integrity. Safe, Respected, Responsible, Nurtured 3.6.1 As a practitioner, it is your role, as far as possible, to enable people to overcome the barriers that prevent them from doing the activities that matter to them, to take opportunities and not to see risk as another barrier. Achieving 4.5.4 You promote wellbeing, encouraging healthy occupations and participation in life roles. Healthy, Active, Included  

In terms of the recent COVID-19 restrictions and their effect on the play sector in Scotland, the Progress Review of Scotland’s Play Strategy carried out by Play Scotland in 2021 found that:

 “Scotland’s play sector has responded robustly to the impact of COVID-19. It has explored how services can continue, what indoor and outdoor facilities can be provided, and what resources can be made available to families and communities so that children and young people are not denied their right to play”.  https://www.playscotland.org/resources/progress-review-of-scotlands-play-strategy-2021/

It is clear that bOunceT, thanks to its flexibility as a Social Enterprise, has really embraced this need to innovate, allowing them to continue supporting children with additional support needs and their families during these difficult times. For example, to complement Inclusive and Meaningful play sessions in Stirling and New Struan School during COVID restrictions, a number of new services have been developed, including:

It has been fascinating to see how these new approaches have been developed, allowing bOunceT to continue providing valuable and effective services for children with disabilities and their families.  My fellow student and I truly appreciated that we were made to feel fully included and that our input was listened to as part of the team. It is a matter of personal pride that our play ideas were taken on board and that our Hungry Hippos game even made it onto one of the interactive Meaningful Moments cards!

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