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News from Member Organisations December 2020 - Philippines

PAOT makes history by holding its First Virtual Annual Meeting

A historical first was accomplished by Philippine Academy of Occupational Therapists, Inc. (PAOT) last October 04, 2020 when it held its First Virtual Annual Meeting via Airmeet. With the theme “Going beyond the norm: The Filipino Occupational Therapists’ responses during the COVID-19 pandemic”, this meeting aimed to showcase the experiences of Filipino occupational therapists all over the country in adapting their practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting started off with the President’s Report delivered by Dr. Anthony Grecia. He discussed how this year has been different from the past years due to COVID-19, and the importance of mental health to the Filipino OT, highlighting the importance of taking care of oneself prior to taking care of clients. Dr. Grecia also walked participants through mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing and words of affirmation, giving Filipino OTs a concrete example of how they can manage their own mental health.

The President’s Report was followed by the introduction of #OTgram by Vice President of Programs, Kristine Ann Carandang. This PAOT project is a virtual exhibit which showcases photos of various Filipino OTs from all over the country and recounts what they did during the period of quarantine. Ms. Carandang invited participants to view the online flipbook which is a compilation of submissions from professional and student members.

Charisse Martha Leyba from the Academy for Able Children with Exceptionalities in Batangas shared their clinic's innovative initiative of the use of Boom Cards for teletherapy needs. She also presented a SWOT analysis of the use of Boom Cards and talked about the struggles they faced on this journey.

The founder of Key Picks, Dana Salonga, shared their innovative initiative by providing access to a large variety of multi-sensory toys as well as free downloadable worksheets and activities on their website keypicktoys.com to stimulate learning and development through play. This is imperative to providing children with the necessary stimulation that they need especially since this pandemic has created barriers that limit their ability to engage with the outside world.

April Lou Magnaye of Home Start Therapy Center in Quezon, on the other hand, also shared their innovative initiative which includes the creation of YouTube videos that allow parents and caregivers to learn more about child development. Her YouTube Account, Home Start Ph, publishes videos on a variety of topics ranging from home teaching to talking about feeding issues in children and ways to address it.

Learning Play Box, represented by Co-Founder Ma. Carmela Castillo-Go, shared their innovative initiative to bring fun to function and learning through play for all children at home by providing parents with a hand-picked compilation of multisensory and developmental materials and resources that all come conveniently in one box. Each box also comes with step-by-step instructions guided by five learning styles for variety and ease.

Jeremaine Prieto, the OT Section Head of the UP-PGH Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Medicine also shared about their experience with internship and telehealth in light of the “new normal.” He talked about the adjustments his department had to make given that the UP-PGH was designated as a referral hospital for the COVID-19 patients in March of this year.

A founding member of Toybox PH, Andrea Estaniel, also shared about their group’s innovative initiative on Facebook where they take ordinary, everyday household items and show the ways these can be transformed into toys appropriate for all age groups. Their group challenged fellow OTs to create toys out of items they already have and explore their creativity while everyone is at home during the quarantine.

Eliesa Rasco of Book Pals PH, went on to discuss her innovative initiative which is an online bookstore that includes descriptions of how the books they sell tackle different skills needed for the development of children. Her initiative allows parents and caregivers insight to how the books found on their website promote the skills and development of children.

Fitness Bee, represented by their Founding and Managing Partner, Anna Louisa Ngo, shared about their kiddie gym and fitness class provider. With the restrictions on face-to-face therapy sessions, they made the playground virtual and accessible from home.

Cesar Llanto III, founder of Growth with OT Cesar also shared about his online innovative initiative and talked about managing social media accounts and making content related to the profession.

Going back to the program, PAOT Chair on the Committee on Membership and Nominations Jeffrey James Paulino shared about the PAOT Mental Health Crisis Response. According to one study submitted by the PAOT, OTs continuously feel a mixture of anxiety, worry, and stress about the situation mostly in relation to issues on changing service delivery, financial concerns and of course, mental health. PAOT has created this to provide relevant and timely mental health services among OT practitioners who are affected by the crisis and to offer and facilitate social support groups to help fellow OTs with their mental health needs and to promote mental health awareness through advocacy work and education.

The discussion was handed to Lemuel Asuncion, the Chair of the Committee on Public Relations, who shared about the PAOT Bayanihan and Crisis Response Team Portal which is dedicated to providing support and relevant resources to Filipino OTs who are facing difficulties during this pandemic. Members of the audience were encouraged to be part of the Facebook group. The engaging discussion extended the meeting and ended at 1:00PM instead of the scheduled 11:00AM.

This First Virtual Annual Meeting is a significant accomplishment for PAOT. This the first step in its efforts to adapt to the “new normal” where everything is now virtual. It is hoped that this will be the first of many new innovations in reaching out to fellow practitioners, students, and clients, and intensifying its advocacy of making occupational therapy more mainstream and accessible to more and more people.