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McKay Presents At National Occupational Therapy Conference

Places for People’s Tim McKay will be among a group presenting a new assessment to help people living with severe mental illness and substance use disorders at a national conference this week.

McKay and graduates of Maryville University’s Master of Occupational Therapy program will be presenting a poster about a Social Participation and Community Integration (SPCI) assessment that was developed last spring. The presentation will be Saturday at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

The collaborative project last spring between six Maryville University students (Erica Brown, Courtney Busken, Abby Dold, Emily Elmendorf, Morgan Lambert and Brittany Simpson) and Places for People produced the new assessment that might one day be used worldwide to help people living with mental illness improve social participation and community integration. McKay, an Occupational Therapist who is an adjunct professor at Maryville and a team leader at Places for People, served as project mentor.

More than 2,500 presentation proposals were submitted for this year’s AOTA conference, with 1,700 being accepted. Of that amount, 1,400 were poster presentations.

“It’s very rewarding,” McKay said of presenting at the conference. “It says a lot about these students who were able to accomplish this in a semester while finishing their course work.

The project was also accepted for presentation at the Missouri Occupational Therapy Conference, but the group was unable to attend.

During the 2-hour poster presentation on Saturday, McKay and four of the project creators (Brown, Busken, Elmendorf, and Simpson) will be “Discussing how we created the assessment, why we felt the need to create it, and what the benefits will be,” McKay explained.

The SPCI assessment was designed to maximize collaboration between the practitioner and person served. “It’s short and client-driven,” McKay said. “(The individual served is) identifying and choosing his or her own goals to work on.”

The SPCI Scale provides practitioners a resource to help determine possible barriers an individual faces in regards to social interaction and involvement within the community. Though the SPCI Scale can be used for any individual who experiences difficulty with social participation or community integration, it is primarily intended for individuals living with mental illness.

The primary goals of the SPCI Scale are:

  • To be easy and quick to use
  • To use terms which will be understood across disciplines
  • To help the person served determine different areas they would like to address
  • To be able to design client-centered interventions
  • To be sensitive to changes in the priorities of the person served over time
  • To be able to monitor progress throughout treatment

The assessment continues to evolve. A group of current Maryville University OT students are working this semester on creating an instructional manual for the assessment, as well as continuing to refine and improve the assessment based on feedback from test runs.

Both Maryville University and Places for People’s Institutional Review Boards have approved the project, which means it can begin data collection, with the eventual goal of being shared with and used by providers across the country and around the globe.