A route to developing a good knowledge of housing adaptations is through targeted training. We talk to the director of Viva Access, Trish Sweeney, about the range of housing courses they provide – March/April 2017 issue of The OT Magazine.
Tell us a little about Viva Access?
We’re a training company that specialises in accessible housing. All our consultant trainers have backgrounds in this field and are either OTs, architects, access consultants, grant officers or surveyors. We’ve been delivering housing adaptation and design courses to OT and other services throughout the UK for the past 15 years.
What kind of courses do you offer?
Essential topics such as reading plans, ramps, bathroom and kitchen adaptations, designing for wheelchair users, disabled facilities grants and accessible lifts – as well as more specialist subjects such as ‘adapting for children with challenging behaviour’ and ‘housing issues for plus-size (bariatric) users’. Most of our work involves travelling to OT services throughout the UK and delivering training to staff on-site. Additionally, we run a programme of external courses in London, which are open to anyone to attend.
What do you think OTs get from these courses?
One of the most frequent comments from delegates is that the training is very relevant and will make a real difference to their practice. This may in part be due to the fact that we always use real case studies in our training (and encourage delegates to bring their own if possible) and we apply a range of methodologies to help them consolidate and apply knowledge gained during the sessions. Delegates also comment on feeling more confident in approaching particular types of adaptation work. We’re conscious most people and services have limited budgets and we try to fit in as much information and skill building into our courses as possible. We often meet delegates, years later, who say they are still using our handouts on a day-to-day basis and finding them invaluable!
Do you have any advice to give an OT who is new to adaptation work?
Where to start! If you have the option, work for an OT service that can provide you with as many learning opportunities as possible and has a team of experienced OTs in place and good systems. Involve yourself in as many aspects of the adaptations process as possible – not only assessment and recommendations, but also the design of the adaptations and the final follow up so you can gauge what worked well and what might have been done differently. Develop a comprehensive knowledge of adaptations equipment so you can advise clients and families on the best solutions available to them, whether privately or DFG funded. And no matter the pressures on resources, hold onto your all-important client-centred approach.
What’s in store for Viva Access in 2017?
We’re very excited about our new online Housing Discussion Forum, which will be launched in the next couple of months. This will provide a way for OTs all over the UK to connect with each other and post questions and share information about casework
and other issues. We’re also continuing to develop our programme of online courses. It kick-started last year with a series of Part M webinars that were very well received and we’re working now to expand the range of housing topics covered. And in the more immediate term, we’re working on a module that addresses the ‘design and adaptation of housing for users with dementia’ and continuing to develop further our courses on challenging behaviour and plus-size (bariatric) users.
Trish is director of Viva Access Ltd. The company specialises in inclusive housing design and provides training and consultancy services on a wide range of housing adaptation and design issues. Viva works with occupational therapy and other services throughout the UK and Ireland and has a well-established reputation in this field.
Get in touch with Trish for more information: