On this World OT day, let’s take some time to celebrate and promote the wonderful work that occupational therapists do, and reflect on how much more is possible.

What does opportunity mean?

Opportunity is the situation which affords the ability to do something you want, or have to do, creating the possibility of doing or achieving something.

This sounds like delivering ‘opportunity’ should there be quite straight forward, however, layers created within society create a plethora of barriers to this.  Whether based on social background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or many other social demographics, opportunities can be limited by discrimination or prejudice which are often deeply culturally engrained.

What is choice?

In theory providing choice empowers an individual to take control of their own life.  However, can choice itself limit opportunity?  Giving someone the option of ‘A’ or ‘B’, limits choice when others may be also offered ‘C’, ‘D’ etc.

Providing choice puts a level of responsibility on the decision maker, so ensuring that decisions are informed is crucial so that the outcomes of choice can be accepted.  This also infers that those with capacity can make what others might consider to be unwise decision.

How do we equate justice?

Justice from a social perspective could be described as ‘The objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest.’[1]

This therefore implies that if opportunities and choice are fairly distributed across society then will create justice.  This may sound like a wonderful ideology, but clinically how are occupational therapists expected to influence?

Occupational therapy impact

Consider fairness in every recommendation.  Legislation exists to deliver equality of provision, but we know that the reality is very different.  Consider a local authority that says “we don’t do wash/dry toilets” for example:

  • Is fettering of discretion being challenged?
  • How is the service user being offered choice in that instance?
  • Do you communicate what can’t be provided under legislation as well as what can, and help with other sources of funding if you can?

This is quite a simple example and might not cover the grand international theme of the day, but does provide an insight into how small, day-to-day recommendations can deliver opportunity and choice.

The bigger piece of reflection is whether services, professions and professionals are delivering opportunity and choice within development and application of legislation, employment, strategic decision making and financial decision making equates to wider levels of justice.

At Closomat we understand the value of occupational therapy, which is why we work in collaboration with occupational therapists, to ensure that the end goal is always to improve quality of life, dignity and maximise independence for the client.  We strongly believe that occupational therapists are perfectly positioned, due to skill and value, to carry this message forward.

[1] https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100515279