The Occupational Therapy
1. Occupational therapy – Definition
Occupational therapy is the art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life Occupational therapists are highly trained health-care professionals. Effective 2008, entry level education requirements in Canada include a professional Master’s degree in occupational therapy.
Occupational therapists define an occupation as much more than a chosen career. Occupation refers to everything that people do during the course of everyday life. Each of us have many occupations that are essential to our health and well-being. Occupational therapists believe that occupations describe who you are and how you feel about yourself. A child, for example, might have occupations as a student, a playmate, a dancer and a table-setter.
Occupational therapists use a systematic approach based on evidence and professional reasoning to enable individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations, or populations to develop the means and opportunities to identify and engage in the occupations of life. This collaborative process involves assessing, planning, implementing, monitoring, modifying and evaluating the client in relation to occupational engagement in self-care, work, study, volunteerism and leisure. Occupational therapists use key enablement skills such as adaptation, advocacy, coaching, collaboration, consultation, coordination, designing/building, educating, engaging and specializing to enable occupation. Occupational therapists may assume different roles such as advising on; health risks in the workplace, safe driving for older adults, or programs to promote mental health for youth. Occupational therapists also perform functions as managers, researchers, program developers, educators, and practice scholars in addition to the direct delivery of professional services.
Occupational therapists are generally employed in community agencies, health care organizations such as hospitals, chronic care facilities, rehabilitation centres and clinics, schools, social agencies, industry, or are self-employed. Some occupational therapists specialize in working with clients within a specific age group or disability such as those with arthritis, developmental coordination disorder, mental illness, or spinal cord injury.
2. What Is Occupational Therapy ?
In its simplest terms, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include
• An individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals,
• Customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
• An outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.
Occupational therapy services also include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers.
Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team.
3. Occupational therapists work with individuals who have conditions
That are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. Occupational therapists assist individuals to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. The word “occupation” comes from our belief that we all have “occupational roles” that contribute to who we are (i.e. mother, son, spouse, employee). The goal of an occupational therapist is not only to help clients improve basic motor functions, cognitive and emotional abilities to return to these roles, but also to compensate for loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive and satisfying lives.
Occupational therapists work with a diverse range of people who all have different needs. Their aim is to understand each person’s requirements and lifestyle so they can create the best treatment plan for them.
The work an occupational therapist carries out may include:
• Advise on specialist equipment to assist with daily activities;
• Develop a rehabilitation programme to help re-build lost skills and restore lost confidence;
• Advise on home and workplace environmental alterations, such as adjustments for wheelchair access;
• Teach anxiety management techniques;
• Assist people to return to work;
• Coach people with learning difficulties or poor social skills, e.g. in handling money and social interaction;
• Mentor people on how to control their own behaviour;
• Liaise with a wide variety of other professionals, such as doctors, physiotherapists, social workers, equipment suppliers and architects, as well as patients’ families, carers and employers;
• Write reports and attend multidisciplinary case meetings to plan and review ongoing treatment;
• Organise support and rehabilitation groups for carers and clients;
• Train students and supervise the work of occupational therapy assistants;
• Manage a caseload, prioritising needs, and completing administrative tasks such as patient and budgetary records.