Students gain knowledge through the sharing of memories

04 January 2021

Occupational therapy students who have recently completed their second year of study with CQUniversity' have shared their experiences related to the study of a unit that focused on the positive contribution occupational therapists can make at different stages of the human lifespan.

Students enrolled in the unit in Bundaberg and Rockhampton completed a practical component of study as part of their assessment and specifically looked at how improving quality of life can be achieved through assessing the client and implementing interventions to engage them in meaningful activities that grow purpose in their every day.

As part of this experience' students worked with older clients at CentacareCQ in Bundaberg and Rockhampton' conducting regular sessions with them with the aim of producing a personal memory book.

Bundaberg-based students Jayde Devlin and Allison Foster worked with local client Val' with Jayde explaining that she and Allison completed weekly sessions via telehealth calls because of COVID restrictions.

"Throughout the term' Allison and I conducted occupational therapy sessions via telehealth calls.

'Usually these would be done face-to-face but owing to COVID-19' this shifted to a virtual setting.

"Every week Allison and I contacted Val via telephone to conduct occupational therapy assessments where we collected valuable information to identify concerns Val may be experiencing while undertaking meaningful activities in her everyday life.

"By collating the assessments' Allison and I were able to identify interventions to improve Val's quality of life and get to know her on a personal level (which helped us to develop her memory book)."

Ms Devlin also explained that the weekly sessions allowed them to gain a better understanding of opportunities and challenges facing people in later life.

"Getting to know Val' we were able to build a better understanding of how isolation and the barriers that clients in later life face can affect their wellness.

"During the interactions with Val' we utilised narrative skills that were learnt in our first year of study to identify her goals. Furthermore' we were able to work with her to identify and implement intervention strategies' specific to her needs and aspirations.

"These actions also allowed us to create Val's memory book and with careful notetaking of personal information and stories we were able to present something meaningful back to Val."

Ms Devlin said that even though both she and Ms Foster gained a lot out of the learning experience she thinks that their client also gained some positive and valued experiences.

"I believe that our learnings were useful for all parties' for myself and Allison as occupational therapy students' and for Val as the client.

"Our sessions provided Val with the opportunity to reminisce (which she enjoyed) but it also allowed us to see the value brought to clients by 'going down memory lane' and recalling all their meaningful and enjoyable experiences.

"Even though this project was part of a uni project assessment' Allison and I will always remember Val as our first occupational therapy client.

"This experience has prepared us to work with community members in later adulthood'" Ms Devlin said.