RCOT Annual Conference 2019 image

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has asked members for feedback on its annual conferences to help shape future events.

The RCOT Annual Conference is the college’s flagship event and is a chance for occupational therapists to network and promote the occupational therapy profession.

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the RCOT Annual Conference 2021 will take place virtually from 30 June to 1 July 2021. However, the college has noted that this will make the event more accessible to its members and says that members can catch up on sessions, if they are unable to attend the virtual conference.

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At next year’s virtual conference, RCOT adds that there will be time for presenting scientific papers, as well as debates and discussions on policy and practice.

To help shape future events, RCOT has asked its members for feedback on the annual conferences, including information from previous annual conferences, the member survey, focus groups and telephone interviews and emails. According to the college, this has given RCOT a better understanding of what members are seeking from the yearly event.

The feedback received highlighted improvements that members want to see:

  • Accessibility – many members said they find it difficult to attend the annual conferences, due to either travel restrictions or not being able to get time off work
  • Sustainability – members said they have a strong desire to see future conferences delivered in a more sustainable way and with better value for money
  • Themes – the survey also showed members wants to see overarching themes developed to determine and focus the content of the conference
  • Driving the agenda – respondents said they want the annual conference to drive the agenda for further events and conversations over the coming year, with more interactive activities and discussions and greater focus on specific topics and theming
  • Informal channels – members embraced the need for scientific papers, but also recognised these should be balanced with more ‘informal’ channels to share practical learnings and ideas, drawing from a wider pool of contributors
  • Continuously evolve – members stressed there is an expectation for the conferences to continuously evolve in order to remain effective and relevant

Discussing these member insights, RCOT Chief Executive Julia Scott said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part in the review, your feedback has given us a good understanding of what members are seeking from our annual conference.

“In developing RCOT’s future plans, as well as responding to the insight gained from the review, we have had to consider the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Therefore, next year’s event will be our first virtual annual conference. Held over two days, it will be our more accessible and sustainable and will open the door for more participants to be able to take part. The content will be driven by the feedback gained from the review.

“A decision on the format of future conferences will be based on the situation at the time and on members’ ongoing feedback.”

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