This blog began as a journal of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Award visit to the USA to study how Lifestyle Redesign could be used in Occupational Therapy to improve the hospital/home interface for older people. It has continued to record developments and inspiration gained from that experience since returning from Los Angeles early in 2012.

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Friday, 20 January 2012

Communication and Lifestyle Redesign Classes

I attended week 2 of the two classes I am joining the 1st & 2nd year Masters program students for.

In Communication Skills for Effective Practice we looked at communication across the diverse population common to most developed countries today. Discussion focused on issues such as what defines culture, the importance of cultural sensitivity in clinical practice and the workplace. We also looked at gender differences in communication and the impact of common experience on the different generations alive today.

In Lifestyle Redesign class we focused on Confronting Public Health concerns of the 21st Century through Lifestyle Redesign , healthy aging and activity (in other words OT?!). We reviewed the reading we had been assigned the previous week. You might enjoy this article The Talent for Aging Well (follow the link) for a flavour of some of it.

We discussed the factors that have been shown to be important to healthy or successful aging. We looked at the prevalance of chronic conditions and the human and financial costs of these- very similar to the UK. We also looked at the evidence for why individuals do or don't adhere to a healthy lifestyle.
Chronic conditions affect a large number of the population and have a high cost. Many factors are modifiable- and many of these by lifestyle changes. One example is cholesterol levels; high cholesterol results in atherosclerosis ('hardening' of the arteries) and increased risk of disease e.g. stroke. Better awareness of dietary issues and the ability to make informed and healthier choices e.g. by understanding of hydrogenated or 'trans' fats can help to modify this risk factor.
The development of healthy habits was seen as a key factor in the evidence if benefits are to be sustained. Intervention therefore needs to happen at several levels, social, cognitive etc.This is where the Lifestyle Redesign approach can be very effective as it addresses occupational concerns in an individual's life to enable them to make changes that promote health in their lives and/or promote successful aging. An individual approach recognises that everyone's journey to change is different and helps to develop a sense of self efficacy that allows changes to be sustained once the support of a programme is over.
This class very much resonates with the experiences of the Lifestyle Redesign Weight Management group I am following throughout my visit here see posts about this.

In the second part of the class we went on to work on some basic 'coaching' techniques that might be used in practice- we practiced in pairs for very short spells and fed back to the class about how it felt to be therapist or client in each exercise.

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