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Occupational Therapy programme information

The following provides important information on placements, as well as useful documentation and frequently asked questions, to ensure you have the answers you'll need before embarking on your practice experience.

We are here to help you on your placement, so if you need to contact us please email a member of the Placements Support Team.

Useful info and forms


What accommodation is available whilst on placement?

Information on accommodation whilst on placement can be found on the OT Communities, Placements tab on MyBU.

Feedback gratefully received:

Can I organise my own placement?

You can for the BU4 placement but not any others. Please do not go direct to any areas and try to organise your placement apart from at this time.

Does the university report additional learning needs?

Sometimes we may talk to you about sharing any additional learning needs (these may be health needs or needs such as dyslexia) prior to a placement starting so that we can check that a placement will be able to accommodate these needs. Most of the time, however, we feel that this is something that is your responsibility and we would strongly encourage you to disclose such needs so that if you need to discuss any strategies for managing things, this can be done early on with your PPE and it gives you every opportunity to shine on your placement and really show what you can do.

PPEs are very understanding of additional learning needs and frequently say that they would much rather know in advance so that they can provide appropriate support. It would be anticipated that as adult learners, you should be developing and learning strategies for managing any additional learning needs when you are in practice but it is understood that this can sometimes take a bit of time in different settings. Being proactive to develop these skills will stand you in good stead once you are qualified.

How do placement locations get found?

The OT team's placement education tutor (PET) liaises regularly with practice placement coordinators (PPCs) to coordinate all the placements. PPCs are OTs throughout Dorset, Somerset and Salisbury in Wiltshire who have volunteered to be the main link with the university and the OTs in their area, some of them are Lead/Head OTs and some of them are also PPEs.

In June/July each year the PET will send out the ‘Allocation Model’ to all the PPCs. This is a list of how many placements the university needs from each setting for each placement over the following academic year. These placements are then gradually either confirmed or altered depending on the response from people in practice. Sometimes due to service re-structuring and other things like this, areas may not be able to provide as many placements as they did the previous year, sometimes an area may have settled after a reorganisation and be able to take more students so the allocation model is adjusted accordingly.

As this information is received, spreadsheets are then compiled and where necessary additional placements sought. You might think that having a whole two counties to approach for placements (and a little bit of Wiltshire) would give us lots of spare placements however sadly this is not the case!

Approximately eight to ten weeks before a placement is due to start, each area will be contacted to check that the placement is still possible and whether the details we have are correct or whether there have been changes. There are usually some placements that are no longer able to go ahead due to things such as maternity leave/staff changes. Therefore further time is spent finding additional placements to ‘fill the gaps’. For BU0 and BU2 this process often happens a little nearer the time of the placement due to the start of term only being six weeks from the start of placement.

When as many placements have been confirmed as possible the PET will arrange a meeting with the Academic Advisors for the cohort who are due to go on placement. This is referred to as the ‘allocation meeting’ where everyone will look at the available placements and where their students need to go. This is usually an increasing challenge as the students progress through the academic years and have completed more placements as the number of factors that need to be taken into account increases. The sorts of things we have to look at are:

  • Where has the student been before and what experience do they still need?
  • Does the placement need a car driver to get to placement only, or for the placement itself as well?
  • Do we have any car drivers and if so do they have business insurance?
  • Is there public transport available for a non-car driver to commute to a location?
  • Are there any difficulties with accommodation in an area therefore do we have any students who could commute to that area (thus saving on the accommodation difficulty)?
  • Does a student need to stay near their home (whether this be Bournemouth/Poole area or elsewhere within Somerset or Dorset)?
  • Are there any other reasons why a student may not be able to go to that placement? (These may include personal reasons, a student having been employed in an area before, having relatives working there etc)
  • Can the student be out of the local area?
  • Was the student out of the local area previously?
  • Does the student have any relatives they can stay with near one of the placements?

As you can imagine, when it gets to the final year placement this is an interesting process and it can take several meetings before we get near a completed list of allocations.

Last year we were able to inform students of their allocations approximately three to four weeks in advance of the placement. We are striving to maintain this and ideally improve but sometimes, with having to find additional placements, this can mean a delay in releasing the information. We have, on several occasions, released the allocations to the majority of students whilst we are still trying to find a final few. Wherever possible we try to avoid this as we understand that it is of course stressful for those students who do not know where they are heading. However, if we can at least let most students know where they are heading and enable them to start planning for their placements we will do this.

We will never sit on information and make you wait needlessly.

How will I find out where I have been placed?

Information will be available on the Placements on the Web (POW) system. You will be provided with a userid and password and we encourage you to log on and find out where you are going (when we have carried out the allocations). Just keep an eye on emails/announcements on MyBU for when allocations have been completed.

Once you have finished a placement you MUST complete an online placement evaluation. The POW system has been constructed so that you will not be able to see you next allocation until you have completed the online evaluation, so it is essential.

What happens to my (PAD) and my placement grade?

When you come back to university for your placement de-brief session (this will be in your timetables) it is essential that you bring your Practice Assessment Document (PAD) with you and hand it in. You may wish to think about photocopying the placement reports for any CPD work that you will be doing in the meantime.

Your grades are all moderated by the cohort leads and the PET to ensure parity of marking. This sometimes means that there can be a slight change in your percentage so do not assume that the grade you have walked away from placement with will be your final mark. Changes are usually small to ensure the percentage matches the classifications that have been given and the feedback within the PAD. The placement books are then sent to the external examiner for further moderation and to ensure that the placement marking process is as robust as possible and that if we have made any changes that the reasons for this are transparent. The external examiner may recommend further changes.

Once the PADs have been returned to university the mark sheet will be removed and will be kept with your records and your hours will be checked and recorded. You will then receive your book back ready for your next placement or if it is the end of that academic year you will need to ensure you keep your book in a very safe place. Your PPEs for any placement may want to look at feedback from previous placements so as to be able to give you the best support and learning opportunities, this might mean showing your previous year's book.

Online evaluation info and why do we need to do it

We have just finished the first academic year of online evaluations. The information for each area is compiled into a report by the PET and this is then fed back to an area so that the PET and PPC can work together to address any areas that need improvement (eg: the PET might arrange an update session with the area's PPEs to go through the marking criteria to make sure they're up to date). On the whole however the feedback has been very good so it is just a case of supporting areas to maintain the standards that they have achieved.

The information also feeds back into a larger report for the Strategic Health Authority - this is the organisation that funds the places on the course so they need to know that things are going well and are being regularly evaluated.

Some settings will also ask you to complete a feedback form specifically for them which will help them to check how things are going for each student. It is really important with these forms as well as the online evaluations that you give clear, constructive and appropriate feedback.

What hours will I have to work?

The general rule of thumb is that you work the hours your PPE works which is usually 37.5 hours a week. In many areas weekend working and shift working has been introduced so you might find your PPE talking to you about this and working out what your working week will look like.

If your PPE does carry out weekend work this is likely to only ever be one weekend during the time you are on the six week placement, and certainly not every weekend. If for some reason you feel you are not able to work these different hours we would strongly encourage and support you to discuss this with your PPE and to explore any options that would enable you to do this.

Often the work carried out at these ‘out of hours’ times can be quite different and it is really interesting to see how this work is carried out. Usually you would get a day off in the week in lieu of a weekend day (the systems for working vary from area to area so this is just a guide for what you might expect). Areas will also work different hours during the week; for example some will be 8am - 4pm whereas most social care settings have standard hours of 8.45am - 5.20pm.

Weekend and shift working is the way that many services are now functioning or will be in the very near future, it will be the world into which you qualify so it is best to understand these patterns and systems of work now whilst you are training.

Working hour regulations: Students are deemed as working 37.5 hours a week when on their full time course at university or on placement. To keep to working time directive of a maximum of 48 hours per week, students are only allowed to do 10.5 hours of bank work. This is a university rule only, not a bursaries office rule.

What should I do if don't think I can go to my allocated placement?

There is an appeals process available should you feel that the placement you have been allocated is not possible. There is a specific form to be completed that is available on MyBU (OT Communities, Placements tab). This form should be completed and then returned to the PET. A panel is then formed within the OT team to give each appeal serious consideration.

If an appeal is turned down it would be expected that the student would go on the placement allocated. If the appeal is upheld a new placement would be sought. However, as this is usually quite close to the point of the placement starting it is not always possible to find a new placement therefore the student may have to undertake the placement at a different point of the year (eg: summer break). We have very few appeals as we do try to take all situations into account. However we are unable to take financial needs into account.

What if I am ill or unable to attend placement?

Don't panic! You must let the placements team, your academic advisor and your PPE know if you are unable to attend placement for any reason. This is so that we all know where you are and that you are safe, but also so that we can keep track of your hours. If you need considerable time off for sickness we may discuss stopping the placement and completing it at a different time to allow you to get properly well so that you can carry out the placement to the best of your ability. It is really important to keep in touch with both the PPE and university during these times so we can ensure the best outcome.

To contact the placements team:

Email or phone 01202 965000 at any time.

What info is available on POW?

The information will vary from area to area however you will see information such as what the dress code is for the setting, parking, any accommodation available (this applies mainly to the larger hospital placements), any other facilities available on site or sometimes in the local area, what the hours of work are, transport links etc.

When do placements take place?

This is the structure of placements throughout the three years of the course:

BUO - Orientation Placement one week in the first year. During the sixth week of your first term you go out on placement as an opportunity to start making some initial links between the theory and practice. It also gives an opportunity for practice placement educators (PPEs) to give some formative (not assessed) feedback about some of the core skills you will be starting to develop such as professionalism and communication.

BU1 - Year One: Six weeks, end of May to July

BU2 - Year Two: Six weeks, November to December

BU3 - Year Two: Six weeks, April to May

BU4 - Year Three: Six week Student Selected Placement, September to October

BU5 - Year Three: Six weeks, February to March

Will I have to travel out of the local commutable area?

Most students will at some point have at least one placement outside of Bournemouth. Unless there are significant reasons for staying locally, we try our best to balance out the times that students are placed away from Bournemouth to help with cost implications such as additional accommodation, or to pay for transport.

However there are times where you may find yourself being placed away from the area on consecutive occasions. This cannot be helped due to availability of local placements to accommodate all those who need to stay locally, and those who were away on a previous placement.

What other funding is available?

If you are a student on an NHS course which started in September 2017 or after, you may be eligible for additional support from the NHS Learning Support Fund. Information regarding Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses, including how to apply, is also available via the NHS Learning Support Fund.