Prof Phil Green talking at the OT Forum April 2016

Occupational Therapists (OTs) from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals (STH) NHS Foundation Trust and CATCH Researchers showcased innovative projects that are designed to improve patient care at a recent OT Forum held at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

The projects have developed from the Collaboration Aiming to Build Occupational Therapy research (CABOT) project, which was designed to encourage OTs to collaborate with academics and researchers from CATCH to develop solutions to improve patient care.  Over 70 project ideas were suggested by the OTs in stage 1 of CABOT.  Five of these projects were awarded small amounts of funding in stage 2 of CABOT to explore the potential of the ideas.

One of the projects showcased at the forum was ‘CloudPass’, led by Dr Heidi Christensen (Computer Science and CATCH). Computer-based communication (Internet, email, social media .. ) is now part of everyday life. Some patients (for instance those on ventilators) are deprived of this facility because they cannot use conventional interfaces – keyboards and mice. The eventual aim of the CloudPass project is to allow these people to communicate with computers, or smart phones, by voice.  This problem is complicated by the fact that the patient’s speech may not be normal and the medical equipment supporting them may be noisy. For this reason, off-the-shelf speech technology will not suffice: the recogniser must be adapted for each case.

Another exciting project is ‘Home Visit’, led by Prof Fabio Ciravegna, a CATCH academic and Professor in the Department of Computer Science.  This will allow OTs to perform a remote visit for cases where it is either not possible to visit in person (e.g. because urgent) or because an initial survey is needed. It is hoped that a large number of visits will be avoided in the end (considering how costly and time consuming they are) to focus only on the homes where a visit in person is strictly necessary.

Laura Evans, Head of Occupational Therapy, commented that

“the OT Forum was a great success, highlighting the fantastic collaboration between OTs and researchers from CATCH. The event encouraged more volunteers and connections to be made once again and I look forward to seeing these and other projects flourish in the future.”

The full list of projects that are part of stage 2 of CABOT are:

  • CloudPass, led by Dr Heidi Christensen (CATCH and Computer Science)
  • Home Visit, led by Professor Fabio Ciravegna (CATCH and Computer Science)
  • Sight Loss, led by Jennifer Read OT (Stroke Unit STH) and Research Associate (RAT Group, ScHARR) & Surinder Bangar (RAT Group, ScHARR)
  • Exploring decision making in health and social care, led by Dr Sarah Hargreaves (CATCH) & Dr Bridgette Wessels (Sociological Studies)
  • Staffing Calculator, led by Nat Jones, Clinical Service Manager, OT Department