Celebrating the valuable role of OTs in the community

2 minute(s) to read

World OT day is an opportunity to acknowledge the role of the Occupational Therapist – Kaiwhakaora Ngangahau (OT) in the community and how they contribute to empowering individuals.

This year’s theme is opportunity + choice = justice. Occupational justice is “the right of every individual to be able to meet basic needs and to have equal opportunities and life chances to reach toward [their] potential but specific to the individual’s engagement in diverse and meaningful occupation” (Wilcock & Townsend, 2009).

Like many OTs across the country the exceptional Therapy Services team at Community Living are all about enabling individuals to participate in activities of daily living. “Not many people know what an OT does and to be fair it’s not until you engage with one that you realise just how valuable they are. Our role is often focused around enabling people to participate in activities of daily living, so it’s not often glaringly obvious for anyone other than the individual and their whanau, but for them it’s everything” explains Maree Parkin RNZOT, Community Living Ltd.

“One of the key skills to have as an OT is listening, once you understand what’s important to the individual, their whanau and carers you can start to problem solve” says Maree. 

(Pictured Community Living OTs Jennifer Parker and Maree Parkin)

Many of Community Living’s clients are non-verbal so they will take guidance and listen to their whanau and support team who know them best.

Supported by an experienced team of OTs we help each other with problem solving says Maree, “you can’t always use an off the shelf solution, but with the help of the team, trialling solutions and with some customising, you can achieve an outcome to suit their daily life, carers and environment.”

“A person we work with, due to mobility issues, was no longer able to navigate the stairs which meant she couldn’t access the dining area of the home to eat with her family. Having lived in the home for 20 years it was important to her, moving wasn’t an option. After some customisation a ramp was installed reconnecting her with her family in the dining room for mealtimes that she had missed. As you can imagine that was huge for her and her wellbeing.”

Maree explains “It’s seeing our clients participate in meaningful activities like these that reminds us why we love our role as an OT”.