In this guest blog, Niamh and Sarah talk about what they are doing at Josephs Court, our wellness centre based in Essex…
Hi we are Niamh and Sarah, we are undertaking a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy (OT) at the University of Essex. We are half way through completing our final role emerging 8 week placement at MS-UK (Josephs Court) until the beginning of September. As this is a role emerging placement, there is currently no Occupational Therapist within this setting. Therefore, it is our ambition as OT students to promote our profession amongst the MS-UK community.
‘Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower people to facilitate recovery and overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.’ (Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 2017)
We are thoroughly enjoying building a rapport with clients, family, carers and staff. It has reinforced for us the importance of viewing clients and individuals we meet holistically and delivering client centred care.
Both of these concepts are reflected in the core underpinnings and ethos of the OT profession. We are excited to continue to work within this inspiring team. Our aim is to design interventions that may improve the quality of life of the clients that we meet, identify clients potential and where possible collaboratively work to overcome barriers through engaging in activities of daily living and occupations.
Our role as OT students within this setting has consisted of us using transferable skills such as communication, professionalism and listening in conjunction with core OT skills and implementing these at MS-UK.
We have been tasked to identify and develop an occupational focused service development that targets clients’ needs and enables clients to improve their health and well-being. Using our skills we have ascertained that falls is a barrier to engagement in activities of daily living.
After conducting some research within Josephs Court regarding incidences and prevalence of falls, we have ascertained that falls is a barrier for engagement in daily occupations and may be impacting people’s psychological health. As a result, we will facilitate a falls prevention information session. This will take place in Josephs Court. Where possible we shall signpost clients and carers to alternative services, support and equipment to enhance client’s pathways of care. We will continue to make suggestions on self-management techniques.
We are encouraged to adopt the positive mind-set that is so evident from both clients and staff within this community.
‘Occupational Therapy practitioners ask, ‘what matters to you?’ not, ‘what’s the matter with you’.’ (Ginny Stoffel, AOTA President)
No one should have to suffer with pain and not everyone believes drugs are the solution, so we asked Multiple Sclerosis Specialist Nurse, Lee-Anne Dippenaar for some drug free alternatives that could help relieve pain
Not everyone with MS experiences pain all the time, but most are likely to experience some kind of pain at some point when living with the condition. When pain strikes, it can be difficult at first to decipher what it is, where it’s coming from and what might be causing it. In issue 104 of New Pathways I address the subject of pain in more detail, but if you are someone who wants to try drug-free alternatives that could help relieve pain, here are my recommendations:
It can help with movement, flexibility and posture to alleviate pain. Loss of muscle strength causes deconditioning which worsens pain
See an occupational therapist for adaptations in and around the home so it’s easier to use or access and helps ease the pain a little
When you have pain you probably want to sit or lie down. Small movements will improve blood circulation and ease pain
Advice about posture can help with muscle pain. Poor posture can aggravate pain and cause pain to radiate
Alcohol affects the central nervous system. It can cause sleep disturbances and leave you tired, triggering pain
Smoking causes poor circulation and makes chronic pain feel more intense
Focusing on a hobby or something to distract you from thinking about pain constantly can help
Learn new relaxation techniques, such as listening to music. Practice meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, gentle walking, singing and being outdoors in nature
Try not to do too much in one go. Plan better and spread tasks out so you don’t overexert yourself and exacerbate pain
Try massage, it reduces stress and alleviates tension in muscles
It involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body to provide relief
This involves applying pressure to feet and hands, which can relieve stress within the body
Try aromatherapy for relaxation. There is no clinical evidence that these therapies are effective for everyone, but some find it beneficial if done regularly
Avoid processed inflammatory food (sugary, carbohydrate loaded) and eat real food. A well-balanced diet incorporating green vegetables, unsaturated fat and some fruit aids the digestive process, keeps weight under control, and improves blood sugar levels
You can alternate between warm and cold compress techniques to improve blood circulation to the area. It can relax muscles and encourage the healing process
Your GP or MS nurse can refer you to a pain clinic. You could also join a CBT programme and see a counsellor who can help to understand pain and can encourage a positive attitude
Look for your local MS group or an exercise group. Ask others with similar symptoms for advice. Help family understand what you are going through so they can support you
In issue 104 of New Pathways magazine Lee-Anne talks more in-depth about the different types of pain, how to cope and how to manage it. To read her feature, subscribe to New Pathways today.