Dip.COT(UK), B.App.Sc(OT), MBA, FWFOT
Executive Liaison for: Asia Pacific
President’s Message – October 2020
I invite you to celebrate and promote occupational therapy this World Occupational Therapy Day on October 27, 2020. Our theme for World Occupational Therapy Day is ‘Reimagine Doing’, a relevant and important message in this year when populations in all parts of the world are required to re-evaluate, re-think, and re-engineer how they engage in their daily activities. Pandemic restrictions, as well as social unease and unrest have caused many to stop and reflect on how they interact with the world. Occupational therapists are experts in ‘reimagining doing’ and a vital resource to facilitate new ways to participate in activities that give meaning and value to life.
The need for advocacy to improve awareness of occupational therapy is heightened during these uncertain times to ensure needed services are available to promote occupational participation when many usual routines and supports are disrupted. The growing number of people affected by Covid-19 amplifies the need for such advocacy given recent evidence that demonstrates the value of rehabilitation for this population.
Results of a recent survey conducted by WFOT indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a wide-ranging impact for occupational therapy (WFOT, in press). Restrictions in service access, frequently changing working conditions, new job demands and limitations in resources such as personal protective equipment have taken their toll, with occupational therapists struggling to provide effective and efficient services. Poor understanding of occupational therapy often undermines access to service, as well as compensation and feelings of value and purpose.
Occupational therapists have the power and capacity to move beyond traditional boundaries and be leaders of progress. As occupational therapists we must construct our own destiny - to challenge our thinking, our constructs and our sphere of influence. Being included in the society in which we live is vital to the material, psychosocial, and political aspects of empowerment that underpin social well-being and equitable health (WHO 2006).
Occupational therapists’ increasing involvement in community-based rehabilitation and disaster preparedness and response - most recently with the COVID 19 pandemic - is based on the concept of social entrepreneurship. What business entrepreneurs are to the economy, social entrepreneurs are to social change. They are the driven, creative individuals who question the status quo, respond to new opportunities and refuse to give up – and remake the world for the better [i].
Help others to understand the vital role occupational therapists play in what makes populations healthy. We need to strive to take our rightful place as agents of social change and equity.
Bornstein, 2004, quoted in Drayton, Brown and Hillhouse, 2006 (Bulletin of the World Health Organization)
World Federation of Occupational Therapists. (in press). The Impact of Covid-19 for Occupational Therapy.