Week 9!

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May 15th 2011
Published: May 15th 2011
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The sun has finally found it's way from the UK to Bulgaria! Weather has been fantastic this week, starting in Varna last Sunday when we visited the Karin Dom Children's Centre.
I was so impressed with the service they provide at the centre. It is very UK based with a formal structure and qualified professionals working almost 1:1 to support the children (teachers, physiotherapists, speach and language therapists). There were no Occupational Therapists emplyed by Karin Dom centre however their approach is very Occupatioanl Therapy based, allowing the children to learn through play and to then transfer those skills to functional tasks. It appeared that the other professionals took on the Occupational Therapy role and their roles in the centre merged. There was a lot of potential for an occupational therapy role to be established there. They use fantastic approaches which I would love to have introduced at our children's home, but these are only possible with funding and continuity. The children were alot more able than the ones we support, however it gave me so much hope for the future of the care system in Bulgaria, if this type of business has worked and is sustainable... but again, it all

(Only had red limpstick so St. Georges flag was our only option!)
comes down to funding from overseas currently. We spent amost 3 hours there, looking around and observing various sessions then got the opportunity to chat with some staff who work there to find out more about the history of the centre and their plans and hopes for the future.

After lunch we returned to the hostel to pack and returned on the bus at 6pm, arrive in Ruse at about 9pm.

Went to the Centre for Mental Health on Tuesday again and did our group session, this week introducing more communication through art, using playdoh and photography. It appeared to work really well and I really enjoyed the time there. I feel we are slowly beginning to establish something there, the staff now appear more accepting of the tasks we carry out, aware that the risks they origionally identified are no longer present and accepting that the patients appear to be enjoying the time we spend with them and the activities we provide each week. Although the origional structure we planned for the 10 weeks we were on placement has not been carried out, the trial and error approach we were forced to make, has allowed us to explore the best ways of working in such a setting and has enabled us to try more things with the clients. We plan to make a questionnaire next week to receive feedback about their enjoyment and to see if the plans we have carried out, have had any benefit to the clients mental health, confidence, anxiety and mood. Hopefully, with the feedback, a more structured approach can be carried out next time the students from the university have a placement there.

Went to the childrens home on Wednesday and worked 1:1 with one of the children doing postural management. Introduced some new equipment to help and had a successful session, allowing the child to sit independently, exploring sensoy objects for a good length of time (fingers crossed this is continued once I leave!)

Had my supervision session on Thursday to give our educator an unpdate on our progress. I informed her of my final plans while I am here, and we discussed all the goals etc. Received good feedback. Got a presentation to do next Wednesday to all the Occupational Therapy students which I have begun to plan. Decided to explain the Occupational Therapy Process and how it is possible to apply in practice. I have used a case study example of how I have applied it on this placement and feel it will be really good. Fingers crossed they can understand my English!

Went to the childrens home again on Friday to carry out a few more assessments and interventions with the children on my caseload. We had a rather chaotic day as there were other students from the university also there on placement and our origional plans were unable to be carried out which was a shame. Still managed to carry out the number work I have been doing with one of the children (Im teaching him numbers 1-10) and it went really well. The language barrier is still an issue with most activities I do here, however when doing this 1:1 work, the limited Bulgarian I do know, has helped him to begin to learn the basic concepts of counting. Also did some work with one of the children who has begun to use her wheelchair. I've been teaching her to self-propell and she is doing a fantastic job. When motivated (normally at lunch time to get her food!) she is able to wheel herself from the play room to the dining room independently which is fantastic to see compared to how she got from A to B 8 weeks ago (carried by staff/ crawled).
In the afternoon I took one of the children to the park to play football with some other children who live locally. I felt it was very important to establish some life skills/social interaction and the afternoon went really well. It was so nice to see the children getting on well together and having a good time, free in the park.

Weekend of sunshine. Had a lovely day Saturday, walking through the park with some friends, icecreams in hand. Walked by the Danube and did some sunbathing. Enjoyed a lovely meal at a restaurant on a boat on the river and had a lovely afternoon. In the evening we met up with lots of other students in a bar to watch the Eurovision song contest. Had a fun evening with French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Turkish and Azerbaijani... cheering on our countries with our home made flags.

It's started to sink in that the placement is coming to a close and it won't be long till I have to say goodbye to some fantasic people. Going to make the most of the rest of the time here and really try my best to make a difference, even if it's just the smallest changes to the children's care. I have never felt such a drive to do something as I have this and plan to annoy you all with fundraising events and stories on my return to UK.


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