The World Federation of Occupational Therapists defines occupational therapy (OT) as “client centred health professionals concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of OT is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want, need to or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement.”
The profession was developed in 1917 as a result of soldiers coming back from war, who were admitted into hospitals with both mental and physical injuries. Activities were developed in order to increase the morale, physical activity and self-esteem of the soldiers during the time spent in military hospitals or sanitariums in the USA, France, Australia and Britain.
Today you will find occupational therapists in schools assisting children with fine motor activities, retirement homes working with dementia specific programs, prisons to assist with return-to-life skills, acute hospitals, rehabilitation centres, adult day centres and all areas of mental health.
The OT process is based on initial assessment and repeated assessments. The occupational therapist works in collaboration with the client on individual and environmental abilities to improve the quality of the person’s daily life. This includes working with the client to identify their needs in the modification of the environment (home or work), the validation of new equipment, review of existing equipment and evaluating the whole person.
OT will continue to evolve to meet the community’s future needs, while capitalising on new technology to help improve the individual’s recovery and quality of life.
- Interchange Australia provides services for people with disability, older people and autism. For information, go to www.interchangeau.org, www.facebook.com/interchangeau or call 1300 112 334.