Futures inspired allied health professional teaching

[Sketch by Occupational Therapist Rian Clarke]

I have looked at the role of the temporal in health care relations and practices in a plethora of interviews and observations with people with neurological conditions, health care professionals and family members.  A series of my key findings and new understandings uncovered by this work has been used heavily in the development of new curricula materials and in the teaching of qualified health care professionals and students at masters and undergraduate level.

My research findings have identified the role the temporal plays in how families of people in a prolonged disorder of consciousness make sense of therapy interventions and a variety of mis-match in understandings between professionals and families.  These findings have supported health care professionals to better understand families responses to them and their interventions and suggest ways to improve communication.

These findings have been presented to groups of allied health professionals in England and Wales and have been included in Masters level and undergraduate curricular over the past 6 years.  In collaboration with Dr Geraldine Latchem-Hastings (Physiotherapy Senior Lecture, Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University) 6 hours of face to face teaching and subsequently an extensive online resource were developed to engage students with the complex issues surrounding the care of people in a prolonged disorder of consciousness.  This research-led teaching is now used to teach health care professional students each year at Cardiff University’s School of Healthcare Sciences.

Aside from the role futures play in helping us to understand health care relations, futures can illuminate the reason for health care practices.  My doctoral research explored how futures of people with severe brain injury are shaped through rehabilitation. My examination of this topic illuminated how each different staff type (nurse, therapist, cleaner, cook etc) played a role in shaping or supporting of patient futures.  At the same time, it demonstrated how places which care for or provide rehabilitation services rely on and need to care for different types of patients (some who rehabilitate well and some who don’t) in order to run successfully. In doing so, this research showed how patients themselves support the futures of each other.

In the sharing of my doctoral findings and that from other future related research I recognised that temporal analysis resonates with health care professionals who care for people with neurological conditions in rehabilitation and long-term settings.  The language of futures theory (in particularly that developed by Professor Barbara Adam and Dr Chris Groves) makes intuitive sense to health care professionals engaged in neurological care, who latch on to futures theory as a way to express the essence of their professional aims, experiences and anxieties.  This can be demonstrated through the interaction of health care professionals at an event organised by the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Centre, which included an exhibition illustrating the findings of my doctoral work. An evaluation of this event and a summary of interaction with the exhibition and futures elements can be found here:

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