On Saturday 30th March I attended the annual Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCPI) conference in Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise. I had an early start (5am to be precise!) but it is one of the main events in the Podiatry calendar and I knew that it would be a beneficial day of learning and networking. The theme of the conference this year was, ‘working together, learning together, moving forward together’. There were eight national and international expert guest speakers who covered a variety of topics. There was also a choice of three workshops to attend on the day.
The first speaker was Martin McGeough who is the founder of Firefly, Co. Sligo. He has a keen interest in clinical biomechanics and orthotic therapy. I first met Martin McGeough when he delivered a lecture to our Podiatry class in NUIG. I also attended ‘Firefly Summit’ in 2017 which was a very successful and enjoyable event organised by Martin and his team. On those occasions he spoke about biomechanics, MSK, orthoses, gait, etc. He was given a very different topic to speak about at the conference. Martin introduced us to the Enneagram of Personality.
This includes nine different personality types- The Reformer (#1), The Helper (#2), The Achiever (#3), The Individualist (#4), The Investigator (#5), The Loyalist(#6), The Enthusiast (#7), The Challenger (#8) and The Peacemaker (#9). You might wonder how this topic is relevant at a Podiatry conference, I did at first too, but it soon made sense. Martin explained that being informed about personality types can in fact help us to communicate effectively with patients. I found it to be a fascinating topic and intend to research it further.
The second speaker was Miss Claire O’Kane who is a Consultant Podiatric Surgeon at Hillsborough Private Clinic, Northern Ireland. Surgical intervention for foot complaints is a topic that I am very interested in as I see patients on a daily basis who have either had surgery or are considering it. The main reasons patients resort to surgery is due to pain, unsuccessful conservative treatment and also often due to great difficulty finding comfortable footwear. Unfortunately we often only hear about the unsuccessful surgeries that people have gone through, therefore I was eager to hear the success rates that Miss O’Kane was reporting. Surgical interventions for conditions such as Hallux Abducto Valgus (bunions), Hallux rigidus, hammer toes, interdigital corns and many more were described and discussed. Miss O’Kane informed us of the Cross Border Directive (CBD) repayment process. Information about this directive can be found on the HSE website here.
Michael Stephenson was the next speaker on the day. Michael works as a Podiatrist in Glasgow and delivered a talk on social media. It is hugely important nowadays, from a business point of view, to be active on as many social media platforms as possible. I find that it can be challenging to create content that encourages people to interact with your social media platforms. Michael stressed the importance of patient confidentiality when posting case studies, photographs, etc. He also discussed some pitfalls to social media. Tone of voice obviously cannot be picked up on or conveyed through email/ social media and this can lead to misinterpretation of information.
Jennifer Reidy, founder at Compassion Fatigue Ireland, has a BA in Applied Social Studies in Social Care. She spoke to us about ‘compassion fatigue and burnout’. Working in the healthcare field means that we meet people who are in pain every day. This can play heavily on the service providers mind if they don’t learn how to ‘switch off’ from work once the door is closed in the evening. We often hear about ‘not bringing your work home’ and this is extremely important. If you are not emotionally healthy yourself as a clinician you can suffer the effects in your personal life as a result. We need to look after ourselves so that we can continue to provide the best possible care to our patients.
Ginny Hanrahan is the CEO of CORU and her talk on the statutory regulation of our profession was one that I had been eagerly awaiting. I will be writing a full blog post on this topic soon, as I feel that it is an important topic for the general public to be informed on.
I choose the ‘business advice’ workshop which was run by Lorcan O’Donaile who owns a Podiatry clinic in Cork. Lorcan spoke to us about how he started out on his business venture. He very openly discussed his business journey so far, the mistakes he made and the changes he in turn made to create the profitable clinic that he now has. He provided us with some very useful tips which can be easily implemented. Lorcan was a wealth of knowledge and I came away from that workshop feeling very motivated to make some simple changes to the running of my clinic.
Amanda Walsh is a lecturer in Podiatric Medicine at NUIG Galway. Her presentation was on Paediatric Podiatry. She discussed the milestones that we should expect to observe in paediatric patients. When these milestones are not being reached we need to be able to detect abnormalities and decide what treatment, if any, is appropriate. Amanda reinforced the importance of not just assessing the feet but also the hips as this can provide us with crucial information. She is currently undergoing her PhD and is researching pes planus in paediatric Down syndrome and I look forward to hearing the results of this research.
John Weir MSc, Podiatrist, owns a Podiatry clinic in Co. Clare. I had the pleasure of attending this clinic for a placement in my final year in NUIG. He carries out Foot Mobilisation Therapy (FMT) which is a hands-on therapy to improve your foot and ankle function by targeting stiff, mal-aligned or dysfunctional joints. This is a major part of John’s daily clinical work along with the provision of orthotic therapy. FMT is not part of the Podiatry course in NUIG and needs to be undertaken as an add-on if clinicians wish to do so.
Paul Chadwick covered ‘The Importance of Teamwork in Managing the Diabetic Foot’. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team is paramount when dealing with the diabetic foot. As this is a very broad topic I will cover this in detail in a later blog post.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and I want to say a huge well done to the members of the SCPI for organising this event and for sourcing such knowledgeable speakers. Looking forward to next year already!