I am a paediatric occupational therapist working in the community, and was delighted to have gained a bursary to attend the PMG Conference in July 2016.
My aims for attending were to network and establish links relevant to my local service and to enhance my professional development. I wanted to learn about other services, and how they approach posture and seating needs in a variety of contexts. Attending the conference was also an opportunity to gain insight into how funding is managed in other services, and to identify whether seating for posture and mobility as part of 24-hour postural management is joint-funded.
I am glad to say that I achieved all of my aims and more!
One of the highlights of the conference for me was to discover that there had been a pilot project showing that joint-funding and integrated working could be successful. The session on Joint Funded Seating, led by Whizz-Kidz and Barts Health, described a project in Tower Hamlets providing seating solutions for wheelchair users, jointly funded across social care and health. It was reported that excellent outcomes were achieved whilst making significant savings for both health and social care. The next step for them is to explore collaboration between health, social care, and education, with the option of a personal health budget or an integrated personal budget if appropriate.
Since the conference, I have had further contact with a number of people I met there, including Alex Hadayah, head of the integrated occupational therapy service for Barts Health, and one of the speakers in the above presentation. I arranged to attend their personal budget workshop which took place shortly after the conference. There I learnt about other projects that are happening around postural management in seating, and met a broad range of people across different local and national services that all had the common aim of achieving a better outcome for their service users.
I have since liaised with one of the drivers of the project from Whizz-Kidz who has agreed to present the project to my local services, and I have opened discussions with my managers and other relevant departments to possibly get the ball rolling on a similar project. Some of the children and young people I work with have up to three different chairs, so developing a joint-funded and collaborative approach would be beneficial in many ways.
Thank you to the PMG organisers and all of the presenters for sharing your work and inspiring others. As a result of attending the conference, I have acquired evidence to confirm that my ideas are workable, and I also established some great contacts to help me drive and hopefully implement positive change.