Practice Education Protocols and Essential Information
This section of the website outlines essential information for students and Practice Educators about Practice Education Placements. It details all protocols relating to practice education placements.
Practice Education Placement Sourcing and Allocation (Protocol 1)
The Practice Education Coordinator and/or Regional Placement Facilitator puts out a call to source placements from placement providers (Registered Occupational Therapists/Occupational Therapy Managers/HSE sites) and allocates these placements to all students. Students may not, under any circumstances, make independent arrangements because of insurance implications.
Placements are allocated primarily based on gaps in experience and individual learning needs to ensure that students gain varied opportunities in a multitude of settings with diverse client groups, thus facilitating the integration of theory and practice and to facilitate the student’s progressive development of the standards of proficiency and competencies. To ensure such diversity/range, the PEC and/or RPF will review each student’s placement experience (to date) and individual learning needs as per his/her most recent placement assessment form before completing the allocation process.
Due to the importance of placement diversity and very often limited placement opportunities in the Dublin region, it is expected that every student will undertake placements involving significant daily travel and/or moving into temporary accommodation. Students should expect to be placed outside Dublin for at least one of their practice education placements. Students are therefore expected to sign a declaration on entry into the Occupational Therapy programme course stating that they understand these placement allocation requirements.
The following must be noted for all placement allocations:
- There is no provision by the Discipline of Occupational Therapy, Trinity College Dublin for travel and accommodation expenses incurred whilst on placement.
- It is the students’ responsibility to arrange suitable travel and accommodation arrangements for the duration of their placements.
- Under no circumstances must any family member of the student make contact with the student’s placement provider and/or Practice Educator(s) before, during or after a placement.
While efforts will be made where possible, to accommodate the needs of disabled students or those who have family and caring commitments or students with other exceptional circumstances who request placement within reasonable travelling distance of their place of residence, there is no guarantee that students will be allocated a placement in their desired location. At all times, it remains the responsibility of the student to bring any exceptional circumstances they may have to the attention of the Practice Education Coordinator (PEC) in writing as early as possible prior to the placement commencement date (at least 3 months).
In all cases, significant attention will be attributed to individual student needs/request however, this does not mean that all needs/requests can always be accommodated. Placement availability is dynamic and complex and as such it is impossible to predict the exact provision of placements that will be available throughout the programme. Due to the complexity of placement allocation in today’s current climate the PEC and/or RPF uses the following guiding principles to guide his/her decisions regarding all placement allocations:
- Fairness and appropriateness to each student
- Individual learning needs
- Student’s profile/additional information – including disability and/or personal circumstances
- Previous placement experience/location
- Extenuating special circumstances
- Capacity of practice area
- Student’s term time or home address
- Placement availability
- Ensure WFOT, CORU and AOTI requirements and guidelines are met
- Importance of well-rounded and balanced practice placement profile at the point of applying for registration to the regulatory body.
Trinity Supervision Guidelines (Protocol 2)
Supervision, defined by the College of Occupational Therapists London, is ‘a professional relationship which ensures good standards of practise and encourages professional development’. This has expanded to include ‘supervision is not the equivalent of performance review, of counselling or of monitoring; it is a relationship concerning accountability and responsibility for work carried out.’ (COT, 2006). AOTI, 2010 define professional supervision as “a partnership process of on-going reflection and feedback between a named supervisor and supervisee in order to ensure and enhance effective practice” (AOTI 2010).
Some common elements can be drawn from the wide array of definitions around supervision:
- Supervision involves a professional relationship.
- It is a process.
- It is active/dynamic, having objectives.
- It may involve a range of activities.
- It is supportive.
- It relates to standards, effectiveness and competence.
- It relates to the acquisition and development of knowledge, skills and values.
- It can incorporate personal, professional and organisational elements.
- It can be reflective when related to practice.
Supervision is an integral part of Practice Education placements for students. The educational and supportive supervisory functions of Practice Education supervision are closely aligned to those of professional supervision for qualified staff; therefore, the experiences that students gain from being supervised and of taking on the responsibilities of being a supervisor begin early in an Occupational Therapist’s career (AOTI, 2010).
Supervision can be separated into the following 4 sections:
Competency Review (Learning and Development): Progress from last week (including student self-appraisal from reflection), what went well, what were the challenges, what is to be completed by the next week and to what standard.
Development of reasoning and reflection (Developing practice thinking): Discussion on case study or other cases regarding the occupational therapy process, best practice, local policy and procedure, application of theory or duty of care. Encourage multiple perspectives including those of the service user to develop critical thinking skills.
Support and encouragement (Developing as a professional): Discuss personal challenges of working in this setting and strategies for management of self and as well as professional approaches to others. Practice Educators need to give space for students to be supported in managing emotions, stress and anxiety generated from new experiences on placement. They are being socialised into the profession so supervision can facilitate a sense of ‘belongingness’ to this placement and to the profession.
Accountability (Developing professional autonomy and confidence): Ask student to report on how they have used their initiative this week, such as what they have researched or read, what progress they have made on project work or what ideas they have for the development of new resources. Encourage and reinforce appropriate use of time in the workplace as they need to develop as independent and proactive professionals.
Formal Supervision is vital and Practice Educators must acknowledge the importance of supervision sessions and ensure that the appropriate time and space is allocated and protected. Supervision should occur weekly at pre-arranged times, in a quiet environment and supervision sessions should last approximately 1 hour and should form as an essential feature of the placement and a key element in the supervisory relationship. All supervision sessions must be documented and a copy of the documentation must be given to the Practice Educator and student.
Frequency and format of supervision:
- Supervision should be scheduled as a weekly formal meeting - 1 hour in duration. The date/time of each supervision session should be agreed at the beginning of each week.
- Supervision should be held in a suitable environment that is private and distraction free.
- Supervision should be a collaborative process with both parties setting objectives, engaging in discussion, and planning future actions.
- Supervision should be recorded on the weekly supervision form. The Practice Educator and student can turn take documenting or agree who will document at the beginning of the supervisory relationship. In either case, all information documented must be agreed by both parties and must be completed before the completion of the supervision session.
- All supervision documentation should be retained by the student at the end of placement and included in their CPD portfolio.
- Students and PEs should prepare for the supervision meeting using the Trinity supervision documentation (find in resource kits).
- The learning contract/personal development plan should be an integral part of supervision and should be reviewed or added to in the supervision session (find in resource kits).
- Students and Practice Educators should ensure to have the Timelines and Expectations Document and Placement Assessment Form at each supervision session – for reference and discuss where necessary (find in resource kits).
Health Screening and Vaccination Requirements (Protocol 3)
In the interests of reducing the risk of the transmission of infectious disease from patients to students, or student to patient, all students must undergo a health screening in order to fully register on the Occupational Therapy course.
Students who do not undertake all elements of the Health Screening test in a timely manner will not be permitted to attend their Practice Education placement.
General guidelines for completing the health screening process and relevant documentation is available on the orientation website: https://www.tcd.ie/students/orientation/undergraduates/health-screenings.php
- Students must return satisfactory proof from their registered GP or Trinity College Health that they are not currently infected with Hepatitis B (core and surface) or C. In the case of a positive result from the above, a student must demonstrate a negative Hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAG) and HBV-DNA viral load or a negative PCR test for Hepatitis C RNA.
- Students must show they have been vaccinated for Pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB) with evidence of a BCG scar which their registered GP or Trinity College Health must record. If they do not have a visible scar their registered GP or Trinity College Health will be required to facilitate a Mantoux test. If a student has difficulty obtaining a Mantoux test or if their result is positive they will be required to provide a chest X-Ray.
- Students must ask their registered GP or Trinity College Health to certify their immunity to Chickenpox, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. A blood test will be required to confirm this if no certificate of immunity is presented. A student may be requested to attend Trinity College Health to undergo vaccination for Chickenpox, Measles, Mumps and Rubella if required.
- Trinity will only accept an original test result from a recognised medical establishment, stamped and authorised by a qualified official and carried out not more than nine months prior to entry. The University reserves the right in all cases to require a confirmatory test in a testing centre of its own choosing.
- Overseas applicants are advised to undergo testing in their home country and to post the results directly to their department of study ASAP. Incomplete documentation will not be accepted. Failure to complete all Trinity health screening requirements by the 04/10/2019 may result in a student being withdrawn from their course and a re-admission fee will apply.
- Precautions against infectious diseases are governed by the Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) regulations which have been agreed by the Medical Schools of Ireland and represent the consensus view of the Council of Deans of Faculties of Medical Schools in Ireland.
- Before commencing clinical contact with patients, students may be required to undergo further testing to determine the effectiveness of their immunity to Hepatitis B. Depending on the results of the tests, students may be required to complete a series of vaccinations or obtain a booster. Full details will be provided following registration.
All costs associated with Health Screening must be met by the student.
Infection Control (Protocol 4)
During practice education placements students may be exposed to many unknown microbiological hazards. All placement sites have a local policy on infection control measures that are standard practice in their work area. It is the students’ responsibility to read any relevant information in their policies. The student must always follow safe working practices and adhere to all infection control policies. Cross infection is a major risk to patients within hospitals/other practice education sites. Many patients have a lowered tolerance to infection. Universal precautions should be taken with all patients regardless of their health status. Basic infection control measures of hand washing, covering cuts/abrasions with waterproof dressings, keeping hair back from face, and maintaining high personal standard of hygiene is vital. Students should be guided by their practice educator and consult them if in any doubt about correct procedure.
In particular, please note policies on Swine flu, Methycillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), winter vomiting virus and Clostridium precautions. The HSE recommends that all allied healthcare students should get the flu vaccine to prevent the spread of flu and save lives. Healthcare workers, including students, are at an increased risk of exposure and infection to flu. This then may increase the risk to family, colleagues, and patients. TCD Health Service can provide students with the flu vaccine (€15). It can also be obtained from your GP or Pharmacist. More information about flu and flu vaccination is available on HSE website.
First Aid (Protocol 5)
All students are encouraged to take a course in First Aid, in their own time. The cost associated with same must be covered by students. The following agencies offer First Aid courses: St. John’s Ambulance Brigade of Ireland, 29 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin 4, Telephone: 6688077 and Order of Malta – Ireland, St. John’s House, 32 Clyde Road, Dublin 4, Telephone: 01 6140035.
Garda Vetting (Protocol 6)
Garda vetting is completed as part of the students’ admissions procedure to Trinity College and is administered centrally by the Trinity College Academic Registry Office.
The Discipline of Occupational Therapy is informed, by an official from Academic Registry, when each student has received a satisfactory result from the Garda vetting procedure. Proof of Garda Clearance Vetting Outcome will be provided directly to each student from Academic Registry and students will be expected to provide this proof of Garda Clearance document to their respective practice educator on each placement over the four years prior to undertaking each placement. Please note that this document cannot be provided to the practice education site by any other persons or University staff and individual Garda Clearance Vetting outcomes are not held in the office of the Discipline of Occupational Therapy.
For more information, please see the TCD Orientation website.
If, as a result of the outcome of the Garda vetting procedure a student is deemed unsuitable to attend practice education placements, he/she may be required to withdraw from the Occupational Therapy course.
Student Insurance (Protocol 7)
Students studying on the Trinity Occupational Therapy programme are covered by Public Liability Insurance to the sum of not less than €6,500,000 in any one event.
Proof of this indemnity is sent to each placement site by the Practice Education Coordinator and/or Regional Placement Facilitator prior to the placement commencement date.
Placement Hours (Protocol 8)
Students are required to work the same hours as their assigned practice site standard working hours e.g. 35 hours per week or 37 hours per week. They must work a minimum of a 35-hour week so as to attain the 1,000 hours to graduate. Students must have a minimum of a half hour lunch break. All hours worked, excluding lunch times are to be recorded on the Practice Education Assessment Form on a weekly basis. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the hours are recorded accurately on this form and certified by the Practice Educator. Three hours per week should be set aside for off-site study time. These off-site study hours should be calculated within the student’s working week. Sickness or any other absences are not to be included as worked hours. Bank holidays or statutory days are also not counted as hours. A minimum of 250 hours is necessary to pass the placement. Please see the table below for estimated placement hours over the course of the 4 years.
|Year||Estimated Hours (based on 37 hour working week)|
|Junior Fresh/1st year||2 weeks x 37 hour working week = approx. 74 hours|
|Senior Fresh/2nd year||8 weeks x 37 hour working week= approx. 296 hours|
Junior Sophister/3rd year
11 weeks x 37 hours working week= approx. 407 hours
|11 weeks x 37 hours working week = approx. 407 hours|
|**(Note: If Bank Holidays fall over the period of the placement, these hours must be deducted from the working hours).|
Punctuality and Time Management (Protocol 9)
Students are expected to arrive for work on time and be fit for work. Punctuality and appropriate time management are expected work-based professional behaviours. Students who persistently arrive late and have been given warnings, may fail the placement due to poor time management.
Study Hours on Practice Education Placements (Protocol 10)
It is acknowledged that study is an important component of practice education. Study hours can only be calculated from time spent on placement-related learning, up to a maximum of 3 hours per week. Study time must be negotiated between the student and their practice educator, and must have an agreed learning outcome relevant to the learning contract/personal development plan for that placement. This study time is at the discretion of the Practice Educator and does not have to be on a Friday afternoon.
Students must complete the Record for Use of Study Time (PDF 454 kB) to demonstrate how they have used this time. This time must not be used for clinical duties (e.g. write progress notes) but for study related to placements. This may include general research or working on their CPD portfolios or other project based work. The Practice Educator can identify goals for this study time in supervision sessions and can request to review this record at any stage. At the end of the placement, the practice educator should submit this form with the final assessment form.
Procedures in Cases of Absence (Protocol 11)
Attendance at all Practice education placements is compulsory. Please see below for an outline of procedures in cases of absenteeism from placement.
Emergency or Illness related absence
If a student needs to be absent for placement on unexpected medical grounds, they need to inform the Practice Educator (by telephone) and Practice Education Coordinator or Regional Placement Facilitator (by telephone or email) within 30 minutes of their expected start time. A text from the student to say they will be absent from placement is not acceptable. If a student is absent from placement for more than two consecutive days due to illness they must provide the Practice Educator and Practice Education Coordinator with a medical certificate to support their absence. This certificate should be returned to the college with the final assessment form.
The number of days a student is absent will be recorded on the assessment form. Significant periods of sick leave during placement may have consequences for overall placement hours and should be brought to the attention of the Practice Education Coordinator or Regional Placement Facilitator at the earliest opportunity, as it can also impact on the student’s competency achievement and thus overall competency. Missed placement hours may need to be made up to compensate for loss of practice education experience hours. This can be negotiated between with the practice educator and the student with assistance from the Practice Education Coordinator or Regional Placement Facilitator.
Medical or Hospital Appointments
Students who require time off for medical appointments must seek permission in-writing from their Practice Educator and Practice Education Coordinator. They need to provide an attendance note to the Practice Educator from the medical professional they attended. This attendance note should be returned to the college with the final assessment form.
Time out of clinical placement is not permitted for routine dental appointments. These appointments should be made during non-placement time. Exceptions to this rule can be made in an emergency situation whereby the student must discuss with the Practice Educator and Practice Educator Coordinator.
If the student requires compassionate leave, they must contact the Practice Education Coordinator and explain the amount of leave required. The Practice Education coordinator will liaise with the Practice Educator and agreements will be made if hours are to be made up on an individual basis.
Holidays may not be taken during placement as this is a work-based placement with a commitment to the clinical sites.
Other Absence Requests
Individual requests may be made for a special event (excluding holidays) that a student requires time off from their practice education placement. These requests will be considered by the Practice Education Coordinator and/or Regional Placement Facilitator however they are generally only granted in exceptional circumstances. A full day off placement for a wedding is only permitted for immediate family members.
*Students who do not comply with the above procedures may risk obtaining a ‘not competent’ grade.
Medical Withdrawal from Placement (Protocol 12)
If a student is unable to complete a placement in full due to medical reasons they must immediately contact the relevant Practice Tutor (PT)/ Practice Education Coordinator /Regional Placement Facilitator (RPF)/ (PEC). The named Practice Education representative (PT/PEC/RPF) will assist the student in following the appropriate procedures in accordance with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy’s policies. Withdrawal from a placement without supporting medical documentation will automatically result in a “not competent” grade being awarded for that placement.
In order to ensure that the process of medical withdrawal is managed effectively the student must therefore:
- Provide evidence of supporting medical documentation to the Practice Education Coordinator prior to formally withdrawing from the placement
- Liaise directly with his/her college tutor to obtain permission from the Senior Lecturer to complete an additional placement during the supplemental period.
If the appropriate procedures are followed and permission is granted by the Senior Lecturer another placement will be arranged by the Practice Education Coordinator and this placement will be regarded as the student’s first attempt at this placement.
Prior to returning to a placement following an approved medical withdrawal the student must:
- Provide a second medical certificate which clearly outlines their fitness to return to placement. This certificate must satisfy the Discipline’s specified requirements and must be provided in advance of the student’s next placement. If required, the Discipline can request further clarification regarding the content of the medical certificate.
- Where a student has been granted a year “off books” following a medical withdrawal from placement, the Discipline can request the student to furnish evidence of action(s) taken to address the specific issues which resulted in a medical withdrawal from placement. In order to be permitted to return to the course and/or repeat a placement a student who is ‘off-books’ following a medical withdrawal is required to submit satisfactory medical certification to the Discipline before the student may be permitted to return to the course and repeat the placement. It is recommended that the student seeks advice from the Discipline/College Tutor/TCD College Health in this regard prior to commencing the year “off books”.
Management of Practice Education related Documentation (Protocol 13) & Storage and Retention of Student Records (Protocol 14)
The table below provides guidance for the student and the Practice Educator regarding the management of practice education related documentation.
Add to CPD portfolio
Take a photocopy of assessment form and add to CPD portfolio
Send original assessment form to Practice Education Coordinator via post (marking postage package as “confidential”)
Learning Contract/Personal Development Plan
Add to CPD portfolio
Complete and return to Practice Education Coordinator
Complete and return to Practice Education Coordinator
Complete and return to Practice Education Coordinator
File and store appropriately
Delete/shred and dispose of all information relating to student PLENs report
All practice education sites are advised to follow their own guidelines in relation to the storage and retention of student records, in line with and in compliance with local standards/policies.
The Discipline of Occupational Therapy advises that all student records are not kept at the placement site and therefore should be deleted or shredded. If the student has requested that the Practice Educator acts as a reference, and the Practice Educator wishes to store the students assessment form as a reference point then the student must sign the Consent Form for Retention of Copy of Student Practice Education Assessment Form (PDF 595kB).
In the event of a ‘not competent’ grade given to a student, the Practice Educator should send all student related documentation to the college for secure storage.
CPD Portfolio (Protocol 15)
Each student is required to compile and maintain a practice education/continuous professional development portfolio. This portfolio should be a systematic and organized collection of evidence collected by the student to monitor the development of their knowledge, skills and attitudes in practice education and their progress towards attaining competence as entry-level occupational therapy practitioners throughout the four years of their course. This portfolio should include items such as the student’s curriculum vitae, personal learning style questionnaire, professional development form, practice education assessment forms, practice education learning contracts, supervision records etc.
Please refer to Guidelines for Developing CPD Portfolio (PDF 655 kB) for further detail.
Confidentiality (Protocol 16)
In the course of practice education placements, students may have occasional, regular or ongoing access to confidential material pertaining to clients, members of the public, or clinical staff. Student must observe the highest standards of ethics in their handling of such information. Students are required to adhere to service providers’ guidelines and policies on confidentiality during their practice education placements in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Confidentiality of service users must be respected and protected at all times. Students must become familiar with their obligations. For example:
- Case notes and records are the property of the placement provider and must never be removed from the practice education placement setting
- Students must maintain the boundaries of confidentiality outside their practice education placement in any discussions, presentations, or reflective practice assignments. Names of clients or healthcare settings should never be mentioned when discussing client cases with other students, in seminars, or any student assignment – instead use pseudonyms, refer to team members by their role rather than name, and describe the placement provider in general terms rather than by name of institution.
- Never discuss client cases where the conversation may be overheard by parents, relatives, or people not associated with the service.
Consent to Occupational Therapy (Protocol 17)
Gaining a service user’s consent to occupational therapy is a fundamental aspect of practice and as such is contained within both the CORU Code of Professional Conduct & Ethics for Occupational Therapists (CORU, 2019); and the AOTI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Occupational Therapists (AOTI 2013) and practice educators are advised to ensure that service users are fully informed of the student’s status and have given their permission for interventions to be carried out by a student.
Using placement providers’ IT facilities during practice education placements (Protocol 18)
Students are responsible for familiarising themselves with the local regulations to ensure that they do not abuse the IT facilities offered to students on placement. Computer pass words must be kept secure. Any computer facilities offered to students during placements are provided for university work only, i.e. for use in learning and pursuit of their studies. They must not abuse these facilities for any other purpose, e.g. playing computer games, excessive social use of e-mail, or for recreational internet use.
Student studies may involve internet searches drawing upon on anatomical terms and phrases. This may generate unwanted links to objectionable websites. Students are advised to use wherever possible, specific health science related search engines which have been recommended by the Trinity library.
Students may accidentally access internet sites they did not mean to. This might happen because they have clicked on a misleading link, they clicked on a link by accident, or because a site has been hijacked. They may also find that they get bombarded by unsolicited and explicit ‘pop-up’ advertising. If any of these things happen whilst students are out on placement, they should:
- Take a note of the URL (web address) of the site and the time it was accessed
- Tell someone immediately. If possible, show them what happened
- Record the details of the site accessed, before logging off the computer.
- Tell their practice educator as soon as possible
- Tell local IT staff (any alerts regarding inappropriate internet use will go to them first)
Use of Mobile phones during Practice Education Placements (Protocol 19)
Organisations offering practice educations placements may have a policy regarding the use of mobile phones, including camera phones, stating where and in what circumstances such devices are permitted or prohibited. In general, if students cannot see a sign permitting the use of mobile phones, it should be assumed that their use is prohibited. Mobile phones should not be carried on your person during practice education placements.
Students are advised that service user confidentiality, privacy and dignity must be maintained at all times. They must never use mobile camera phones to take photographs and video recordings of service users during practice education placements.
Dress Code/Uniform Protocol (Protocol 20)
Students must adhere to the dress code of the practice education placement at all times (unless otherwise advised by the Practice Educator/Practice Tutor of the specific placement site). Students are required to wear:
- Clean and ironed student Occupational Therapy uniform top with the Trinity logo
- Clean and ironed green trousers
- Black/navy socks
- Black/navy shoes
- Official name badge provided by the Department
The uniform is to be washed daily after each wear to reduce the risk of cross infection and must be replaced as necessary over the four years of the programme.
In addition, it is important to note:
- No jewellery may be worn, with the exception of wedding band rings and a single stud earring in each earlobe.
- Wrist watches or bracelets may not be worn on hospital placements in line with the HSE infection control policy.
- Long hair must be tied back neatly so that it does not hang over face or over the patient. Hair accessories should be plain and discreet.
- Make-up, if worn, should be subtle. False tan should not be worn.
- Nails must be kept clean and short. Nails should not be visible from the palmar aspect of the hand. Nail varnish, nail decoration, false nails, tips, extensions, or gel/acrylic nails are not permitted.
- Other than ears, body piercing or tattoos may not be permissible in many practice education placements and may have to be covered.
- Footwear should be suitable for moving and handling and must be in adherence to local policy. Additionally, footwear must be plain, non-slip soles, flat, closed toe, clean and in a good state of repair. Runners and cloth shoes are unacceptable.
- Uniform should fit comfortably, allowing for movement and covering mid-drift.
- Perfume or aftershave should not be worn as it can cause an allergic reaction with some clients.
- Mobile phones should not be carried on your person during practice education placement.
Issuing/Replacement of Uniforms and Name Badges (Protocol 21)
The Discipline of Occupational Therapy is responsible for organising the uniform and name badge supplier in the first academic year. Students are responsible for the cost of their personal uniform and name-badge. Students will pay for any replacement uniforms and name badges and must take responsibility for this themselves.
Personal Hygiene (Protocol 22)
It is essential that personal hygiene is always kept meticulously to maintain professional standards and assist with infection control.
Personal attire and uniforms must be clean and neat prior to starting placement each day. It is essential that personal hygiene and fragrances/odours do not cause patient discomfort. It is recommended that perfume or aftershave not be worn due to allergies and perfume sensitivities.
If students wish to wear make-up whilst on practice education placement, this should be discreet and/or in adherence with local procedure. Excessive make-up must not be worn. False tan should not be worn on placement.
Fingernails must at all times be short and clean to prevent harm to patients through infection transfer or inadvertent scratching. To achieve this standard fingernails must at all times be:
- Clean to avoid transferring bacteria on or under the nail
- Short to prevent patients and staff being scratched
- Free from nail varnish, nail decoration or any form of nail covering to prevent flakes of contamination
- False nails, gel nails, acrylic nails, tips or extensions are not permitted
- Nail jewellery is not permitted
There is a possibility of hair carrying bacteria or parasitic infection and these may be transmitted to patients. To promote the health and safety of the student and patient, hair must be clean and tidy at all times. To achieve this standard hair must at all times be:
- Clean, tidy and tied away from the face
- It should be off the face and shoulder and above the level of the uniform collar
- Male students must be either clean shaven or have their beards and moustaches kept clean and neatly trimmed
Wearing jewellery of any kind while working in a health care setting introduces risks in relation to Infection Control and Health and Safety. Jewellery wearing (if permissible) should at all times be adherence with local procedure.
The following principles reflect industry standard for Health and Social Care Professionals:
- Rings: only a single plain band may be worn e.g. a wedding ring
- Earrings: only stud-type earrings may be worn.
- Bracelets: must not be worn.
- Wrist watches: if allowed must be in adherence with local procedure.
The wearing of any body piercing other than earrings (refer to above) must adhere to local policy. This may involve the removal or covering of the piercing.
Contribution of Practice Education to Final Degree Classification (Protocol 23)
As per the other elements of the curriculum, Practice Education is assessed formally at each stage along the Occupational Therapy programme.
All Practice Education placements must be passed to be awarded the degree B.Sc. (Hons.) in Occupational Therapy in Trinity College Dublin and students must have completed the full 1,000 hours of placement in line with the requirements outlined above. Please see General Regulations for more details.
Supplemental Practice Education Placement Procedures (Protocol 24)
Students who have failed a placement and who have been permitted to take supplementary placements will meet formally with the Practice Education Coordinator to:
- Clarify concerns regarding the student’s professional conduct or professional competence and to identify additional supports if required
- Establish clear learning objectives for the student’s professional conduct or professional competency development
- Outline possible placement structure and time frames
Every effort will be made to structure supplemental placements within the same academic year to enable students to rise with their peers, but this may not always be possible due to timing constraints and placement availability. The process for supplemental placement is outlined in the table below.
Student informed of requirement for supplemental placement.
When student notified of fail/ placement termination
Student meets with PEC/RPF to discuss fail grade.
Within 2 weeks of receiving fail result
Student re-evaluates own professional conduct and professional competencies with support from PEC/RPF.
As soon as possible, but may depend on student readiness
Meetings to focus on specific learning goals agreed and documented with student and PEC/RPF. Additional supports called on as required.
Before supplemental placement begins
Draft learning contract/personal development plan developed prior to placement.
Before supplemental placement begins
Regular review and feedback on how learning goals are being achieved.
During supplemental placement
If a student receives a “not competent” grade in two placements over the course of the Trinity College Occupational Therapy degree programme s/he will be excluded from further participation in the programme. This decision will be at the discretion of the Court of Examiners and will be made following the student obtaining a 2nd “not competent” grade.
All decisions related to student progression are at the discretion of the court of examiners.
Please see Calendar for more details.
Appeal mechanisms (Protocol 25)
For information on Trinity College’s appeal mechanism, please consult the General Regulations.
Professional Misconduct Procedures while on Placement (Protocol 26)
The following statement relates to the information that is in effect for students.
If professional misconduct is suspected, the Practice Educator must immediately notify the Practice Education Coordinator as well as the Head of Discipline, the student and their College tutor.
Students are then invited to meet with the Head of Discipline, Practice Education Coordinator, Practice Educator, and their College Tutor as appropriate. Issues are identified and a plan of action is agreed by all parties identifying clear targets and behaviours and the student is made aware of these.
In the first instance, if the student does not amend their behaviour accordingly it is the responsibility of the practice educator to reflect the seriousness of the professional misconduct in the ‘comments’ section of the student’s assessment form and to determine if that misconduct is sufficient to warrant an overall ‘not competent’ grade.
In the event of a serious breach of conduct, and/or an escalation of misconduct with no further improvement the student will fail the placement. The matter is referred immediately to the Head of Discipline who consults with the Junior Dean’s Office in Trinity College Dublin where the procedures are evoked as outlined in the Conduct and College Regulations.
Fitness to Practice (Protocol 27)
At all times, clients’ and patients’ interests and safety take precedence over students’ education. Situations may arise where there are concerns regarding a student’s fitness to participate in practice education placements. Such cases not falling within the remit of Garda vetting or College disciplinary procedures may be considered by a School’s Fitness to Practise Committee. Where an alleged disciplinary offence comes before the Junior Dean, the Junior Dean may decide to refer the case to the Fitness to Practise Committee of the relevant school if the Junior Dean considers this to be a more appropriate way of dealing with the case. Where a fitness to practise issue arises in the context of an academic appeal, the relevant body hearing the appeal may decide to refer the case to the Fitness to Practise Committee of the relevant school, if it is considered to be a more appropriate way of dealing with the case.
The School Fitness to Practise Committee is convened as required, at the request of a Head of Discipline, to consider matters of concern in relation to professional practice. This committee is appointed by the School Executive Committee, with representation from two members from within the School and one member from a non-Faculty School. Students called to appear before the Fitness to Practise Committee are entitled to be represented by their tutor. For further information see TCD Undergraduate Studies website and the Calendar Entry.
Premature termination of placement in cases of “not competent” outcomes (Protocol 28)
If there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a student’s action, inaction and/or decision-making whilst on placement is negatively impacting on the quality of client care and/or service delivery of the placement site or that the student’s support requirements is encroaching on the Practice Educator’s clinical and personal commitments on a consistent basis, a collaborative decision can be made by the placement site (appointed Occupational Therapy manager/Manager) and the Head of Discipline to terminate the student’s placement in advance of the placement finishing date. If a placement must be terminated on the above grounds, the student will receive a “not competent” grade in their final assessment. In most cases, the provision of this grade will be directly related to the student’s actions and/or decision making which have warranted the placement termination. Should the above circumstances arise it is essential that the placement site liaise closely with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy Practice Education Team. A formal notification will need to be put forward by the placement site (appointed Occupational Therapy manager) outlining the reasons for termination of the placement.
Consequences of Failing Practice Education Placements (Protocol 29)
Students who fail (receive a “not competent” grade) one placement may repeat that placement in a different clinical venue but in the same area of practice.
If a student receives a “not competent” grade in two placements over the course of the Trinity College Occupational Therapy programme s/he will be excluded from further participation in the programme. This decision will be at the discretion of the Court of Examiners and will be made following the student obtaining a 2nd “not competent” grade.
All decisions related to student progression are at the discretion of the court of examiners.
Notwithstanding the provision of any other regulations of Occupational Therapy, a recommendation may be made to the University Council for the exclusion, at any stage, from the department of any student whose progress or performance is unsatisfactory, or to the Board of Trinity College, the exclusion of any student whose conduct is unsatisfactory.
Dignity and Respect (Protocol 30)
Trinity College strives to create an environment that is supportive and conducive to work and study. The Discipline of Occupational Therapy promotes, and is committed to, supporting a collegial environment for its staff, students and other community members, which is respectful and free from discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. The Trinity College Dignity and Respect Policy has a strong preventative focus and highlights that staff and students have a duty to maintain an environment in which the dignity of everyone is respected.
The policy includes practical advice on tackling communication breakdowns or inter-personal disputes. The policy also sets out a framework for complaint resolution using informal and formal procedures and through the use of mediation. The policy contains useful information on support sources forall parties to a complaint. For further information see Dignity and Respect and Student Complaints Procedure.
Protected Disclosure (Whistleblowing) (Protocol 31)
Arrangements for dealing with protected disclosures, more commonly known as “whistleblowing”, are in place under the provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. Students may wish to make a protected disclosure in good faith where they have reasonable grounds for believing that the health or welfare of patients/clients or the public may be put at risk, or where there is waste of public funds or legal obligations are not being met, so that the matter can be investigated. Such legislation provides statutory protection for health service employees (and students on practice education placement) from penalisation as a result of making a disclosure in good faith and in accordance with recommended procedures. Further information is available on the HSE website.
- Students can discuss their concerns with their Practice Educator in the first instance and seek support to follow the site-specific policy
- If a student’s concerns remain following this and/or a student does not feel that they can discuss their concerns with their Practice Educator for any reason, they should contact the Practice Education Coordinator
- Failing this, they should contact another member of the Department to discuss their concerns.
- If a formal disclosure is warranted, the student will need to put the details of their concern in writing and submit to the authorized authority or agency.
Students with a Disability (Protocol 32)
Many students may be able to self-manage their disability on practice education placements. However, students who require reasonable accommodations during their placements can gain support from Trinity College’s Disability Service, please see the Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Students with Disabilities.For a full copy of the policy see: https://www.tcd.ie/disability/assets/pdf/RA-Policy.pdf and the Curriculum Handbook for details on registering with the Disability Service.
Once a student discloses a disability and is registered with the Trinity Disability Service, they must make the decision themselves whether they wish to disclose their disability on practice education placements and whether they wish to avail of reasonable accommodations on same or not. The student must decide this themselves and they will never be told what to do. The Discipline of Occupational Therapy does support disclosure on placement.
See figure below for an outline of the process in relation to disclosing a disability on practice education placements.
- If a student decides to disclose their disability and share their Professional Learning Education Needs Summary (PLENS) with their Practice Educator, this will be arranged with the Practice Education Coordinator’s support to ensure appropriate protocols are followed (e.g., data protection, pre-placement meeting etc.).
- If a student decides NOT to disclose their disability, they cannot avail of any reasonable accommodations while on their practice education placement.