Virtual practice placement experience

Terry Brown (Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy)  

Anna Hodkinson (Student Occupational Therapist) 

Overview of the context of the project/procedure

All occupational therapy students must undertake 1000 practice placement hours during their degree (pre-pandemic this was normally undertaken face to face). Because Anna was deemed clinically extremely vulnerable with Rheumatoid Arthritis, her first practice placement was virtually in Nottingham City Council and lasted for a period of 11 weeks, working 4 days a week which was successfully passed. 

The approach taken 

Anna was able to undertake virtual assessments with patients, e.g., telephone assessments which were followed up by her practice educator; also, a joint assessment of a client via Microsoft Teams facilitated the outcome that this client needed rehousing. This worked in that the client was able to show their house via Teams through their mobile revealing that they were in a flat and needed to use stairs to access amenities such as their bathroom. Due to the patient’s diagnosis of epilepsy the concern was that they could experience a fall and suffer head injury hence the justification for rehousing 

Anna received a placement support plan where reasonable adjustments were set out underpinned by the Equalities Act (2010). Anna used on her own mobile but used 141 as a prefix so no caller ID was visible.  

One huge positive of this approach was being able to undertake a whole placement virtually thus allowing Anna to progress on her course. However, undertaking patient assessments on the telephone, Anna’s lecturer could not hear the client, the lecturer therefore had to complete a follow up visit to ensure that all information was correctly taken.  

If this was to be completed virtually again, Anna states that she would not get as stressed as she did, as she realised it was also a learning experience for the lecturers as well. 

Advice for others

Don’t worry that you will not gain the skills from a face-to-face placement, you still need to achieve the professional competencies; it just means that you are assessed differently, whilst you develop new skills via IT acquisition of new skills.