Technology to the rescue

Many years ago, when working within an interesting role that moved between acute and community services, I was given the task of engaging a young person that had recently experienced a first episode of psychosis and was admitted to the local mental health unit. I was meant to assess a range of functional area with this person yet this was proving to be a very difficult task due to a number of reasons, but the main one being that this person just didn’t want to engage. Due to this dilemma, I decided to go away and think how best I could get this person to work with me. I sat in my office for quite some time thinking this through, and this continued when at home sat on my sofa in front of the TV. Eventually I had an idea, and this idea was either going to be a novel way to engage a young person that isn’t interested or it will fail miserably, but either way, what did I have to lose. During my next meeting with this young person, I set-up the TV room with a Nintendo Wii console and began getting used to a few games before the meeting and deliberately had certain games available that worked on problem solving and dexterity. I then invited the young person in and we had a coffee whilst I invited him to join me in a game of his choosing from what was available. Fortunately, I was taken up on this offer, but I wasn’t going to become too enthusiastic too soon! I just enjoyed the fact that he was engaging. This continued for quite some time and eventually progressed to holding consistent sessions where due to the interactive nature of the games, I was able to assess a whole range of physical and cognitive abilities as a way of helping me formulate what functional strengths and limitations this person may have. I was really fortunate for this experiment to work out so well and was also a very refreshing form of assessment using modern technology that didn’t involve sitting down with a pen and paper. It also made me realize that perhaps this is the direction of future functional assessments as a way of engaging with younger persons or those that are not wishing to have the spotlight shone directly on them.

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