Winner of the COT Pearson Award for education, research or CPD announced

Samantha Armitage, a member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT), has been named as the winner of the 2013 COT Pearson Award for education, research or continuing professional development. 

Samantha has been qualified as an occupational therapist for eight years and has worked in paediatrics for six. Samantha currently works for East Cheshire NHS Trust as a community children’s occupational therapist.

Read the full press release, and Samantha's reaction to the news.

Following the announcement we caught up with Samantha to find out more about her background and how the COT Pearson Award will support her development.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and training?

I have been qualified as an Occupational Therapist for eight years and have worked in paediatrics for six years. I currently work for East Cheshire NHS Trust as a community children’s OT. As a paediatric practitioner I commenced post-graduate training in Sensory Integration Therapy four years ago, learning the foundations of theory, skills and evidence to guide practice when using the approach. I integrated knowledge and skills from this training into my NHS work to consolidate my learning, whilst also reflecting on the practical application of learning outcomes into the NHS environment through case studies, bringing together theory, evidence and practice.

After a 12 month secondment to complete a Master of Research qualification, I have returned to practice and identified the need to develop more specialist services for children with Sensory Processing Disorders. Continuing my progress along the Sensory Integration post graduate training pathway, offered through the collaborate efforts of the Sensory Integration Network and The University of Ulster, will enable me to develop services in a methodological, specialised and evidence based way, ensuring children and families receive the most effective therapy and achieve optimum health outcomes. Winning the Pearson Award this year has allowed me to pursue this goal.

What encouraged you to apply for the BAOT and Pearson Assessment award?

As the NHS provide such eclectic health services, particularly in community paediatric settings, securing funding for developing more specialist areas of practice is difficult as resources are prioritised for learning and development which will be generalised across services. Resourcefulness is therefore needed to find ways in which these much needed specialist services can be developed. I saw the BAOT and Pearson Assessment Award through the announcement of annual awards in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy and saw an opportunity to apply for support in the CPD element of developing this service.

Which course(s) will you be attending?

I will be attending a course entitled ‘From Assessment to Practice’, the second module on the Sensory Integration post graduate training pathway. This modular pathway has been developed collaboratively between the Sensory Integration Network and The University of Ulster to offer a total of three modules of learning where specialist skills, knowledge and practice can be gained in Sensory Integration and academic recognition of learning is awarded. The learning outcomes for module 2 are based around the selection, utilisation and evaluation of assessment tools for practice including structured and unstructured clinical observations as well as use of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT), a standardised assessment tool. The module is split into two blocks of teaching, I will be attending my first block in June, complete two months of consolidation where I will apply learning to practice and return for the second taught week in September.

Why did you choose these courses? 

My interest in Sensory Integration started when I was a student OT on placement, in paediatrics, with an educator who was passionate about Sensory Integration and the role it has within child development. This spurred me to commence formal training in 2010 as a qualified OT. I was fortunate to be supported by East Cheshire NHS Trust in applying this training to practice, developing my understanding of Sensory Integration (SI) and my therapeutic practice.

As my own understanding of the role of SI has developed, I have been able to recognize more clearly the needs of children with Sensory Processing Disorders and wish to continue to develop a service that can be responsive to these needs. The course selected allows me to build on my previous knowledge, ensuring my CPD is progressive in this area and will allow me to amalgamate research, evidence and practice ensuring knowledge and skills gained are current and evidence based, qualities which will be reflected in practice.

What outcomes are you hoping to achieve?

Specific learning outcomes are clearly related to assessing, identifying, diagnosing and differentiating Sensory Processing Disorders in children in order to recognize when Sensory Integration Therapy is indicated for intervention. These outcomes will be achieved through critically appraising the approach, ensuring appropriate selection in practice, reliably administering and analysing the SIPT and incorporating information gained into clinical reasoning, applying sensory integration techniques into assessment practices and through applying evidence, practice, experience and theory to the clinical process of diagnosis and treatment of Sensory Processing Disorder.

Generalised outcomes are to improve the quality of services received by children with Sensory Processing Disorders and their families through providing evidence based, specialist services which are effective and able to optimize health outcomes.

Congratulations Samantha, we look forward to hearing how your course goes later in the year.