As I approach the end of my time at Home Link and reflect on my experience, I realise the value of Occupational Therapy (OT) embedded within the third sector.
For those of you who don’t know, Occupational Therapy is a unique profession which focuses on providing practical support to people and empowering them to overcome barriers that prevent them from doing activities (or occupations) that they find important. These occupations could be essential day to day tasks such as self-care, work/school, or leisure/play.
Traditionally, Occupational Therapists have worked mainly within the health and education sector. However, according to The College of Occupational Therapists, a growing number of OTs are now found in other innovative places – such as children and families charity services.
My time at Home Link has enabled me to see first-hand the value of Occupational Therapists working in these types of settings. As Bergson (a fellow OT) puts it, “We are active problem solvers, dual trained in both physical and mental health, take a strengths-based approach and naturally work across the health, social care, and third sectors.” These traits are all of great importance to clients, who often have complicated backgrounds and multiple barriers preventing them from maintaining their health and wellbeing.
At Home Link I have worked with families who struggle to access community services and feel they are stigmatised by society. They are balancing social and economic disadvantage whilst trying to raise their children to grow and develop into positive and confident adults. Families can become easily overwhelmed by their circumstances which can lead to breakdowns in their family systems and challenges in completing basic living skills.
My role at this organisation has been developing since I started here, but with my Occupational Therapy hat on I have been able to support children and families to develop daily routines, have worked with them to set meaningful and realistic goals, have supported families to access services and resources, and have empowered them to begin to engage and balance all the different occupations in their lives. In its entirety, I have helped families build confidence in themselves and confidence in each other, increasing their wellbeing and quality of life.
My work at Home Link has truly proven that there is a huge role for Occupational Therapy in third sector organisations. Occupational Therapists have core skills which can support the prevention of crisis and positively make a difference to marginalised groups in society. I hope in the future, professionals like myself will continue to seek out roles that are non-traditional in the OT world. In doing so, we can continue to serve the people that are desperately needing active Occupational Therapy support.
Bergson, K. (2016, February 3). There's a place for occupational therapy beyond councils and the NHS. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/social-life-blog/2016/feb/03/occupational-therapy-ot-student-nhs.