OT Society offer supporting hand to students

Thu, 25 Feb 2021 16:19:00 GMT
The society have also now got their own merchandise
The society have also now got their own merchandise

GCU Students’ Association’s Occupational Therapy (OT) Society are bringing some much needed positivity to 2021. 

The passionate bunch have been working hard to provide everything from mental health support through to trendy merchandise – all while being at the forefront of forging a community between staff and students. 

Society vice president, Nora Dempsey spoke about some of the initiatives created and why it’important for them to be there for students during this time. 

She said: “We knew ourselves how difficult we were finding being isolated and doing our uni work from home. As a society we’re really lucky because we’ve got our reasons to stay in touch with each other and work together as a group. Talking to our classmates, we realised people were getting really fed up with the whole situation with days running into each other. 

Self-Care Sunday was actually an idea taken from the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher EducationSunday 4 March is going to be University Mental Health Day, so building up to that we decided to do this for the last two weeks and promoted it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 
Each week we feature an idea of how to switch off and ask people to engage with others about how they like to relax. None of these are brand new ideas – it’s things like taking a bath or going for a walk but we just hope it will encourage people to take the time to do it. 

Switch off Fridays is just a way for us to recommend fun films and TV. We’re just wanting people to put down the uni work and go watch something. We’ve put together a list of what society members consider their fun go to film or TV show. 

It’s been a difficult year for students who have had to adapt to online learning, while also dealing with the stress of seeing placements cancelled. The OT Society were all too aware of this and once again took positive action. 

Nora explained Nobody has any idea of the impact the pandemic is going to have on us now and the impact it’s going to have in future. We’re working completely differently to previous year groups and our learning experience is totally different.  

Everyone is missing those little chats between classes where you’d sit in the canteen, eat chips and talk rubbish. All the conversations we would have around assignments and placements are lost - so we were particularly aware of this for our first years, who haven’t had this luxury.” 

She added: “Quite a few students across Occupational Therapy weren’t able to do placements because priority was given to those who had to graduate. As a result, a lot of people had theirs pushed back and it’s become a bit of concern around having to wait so long.  

We obviously couldn’t make placements for students but we wanted to help them prepare. That’s where the idea of placement Zoom calls came from.  

Each Wednesday in March we’re going to host these events, with each having a different theme. The first one will be preparing for placement and then the others will be decided by what the students on the calls want to focus on.  

We’ve actually had a lot of sign-ups from fourth years, who want to hear about other people’s experiences before they go out on their final placements.” 

The society’s support hasn’t gone unnoticed by Occupational Therapy staff members, however Nora insists delivering a successful University experience remains a team effort.  

She said: “We’ve had amazing support from Katrina Bannigan (Department Head), all the way through to the lecturers and programme coordinators – everyone has been so helpful.  

I think there’s a mutual recognition and staff know that we’re also supporting them in what we’re doing. We’ve been able to answer a lot of questions and sign-post students - which obviously helps teaching staff. 

As well as academic and mental health support, Nora and the rest of the dedicated committee have been providing students with practical and fashionable accessories. 

“We recently started doing our own measuring tapes as a wee joke because OT’s in physical settings have to measure heights of chairs, so you need it! We got those branded and we also got an Etsy supplier for new society hoodies. 

On top of this, we’ve created our own stickers and badges to give out as prizes! We’ve had a few competitions throughout the year to keep everyone engaged and they’ve been great for that.  

We’re also sending out a merchandise bundle for our 100th society member sign-up. They’re getting the full lot; a hoodie, measuring tape and stickers! 

If you want to find out more about the society, you can connect with them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. 

You can also sign up for the Zoom placement events here. 


By Ross Clark 
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