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News from Member Organisations June 2023 - South Africa

The Professional Body for Management, Leadership and Fields of Professional Practice

In South Africa, the diverse range of Healthcare Professions managed by the principle statutory structure, protected by a statute of Parliament and falling under the National Department of Health, notably the Health Professions Council (HPCSA). Occupational Therapy is regulated by one of a number Professional Boards, under which 10 of the medically aligned professions are grouped. This protects the entry-level, and practice of Occupational Therapy within a legislated scope of profession. The HPCSA licenses individuals as independent practitioners following a year of community service. OT’s are relicensed annually provided they participate in compulsory accredited continuous professional development (CPD).

The Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA) started working on the formation of a Voluntary Professional Body for Management, Leadership and Fields of Practice, in 2021 for the recognition of 12 fields of practice in Occupational Therapy. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), promulgated in 2010, allows for the registration of Voluntary Professional Bodies under SAQA, where guidelines for such registration have been developed and the regulation of these Governance Structures as Quality Assurance Bodies for the Registration of Professional Practitioners under a designated scope, and for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of these Professional Practitioners, is made possible. Some of these principles are:

  • Self-Governance: where it is emphasized that only current or past subject matter experts and practitioners in a particular area or field of practice should be included in any Governance Structure.
  • Quality Assurance: practiced via the registration process of each Professional Practitioner designated by the Professional Body and especially of all Continuous Professional Development (CPD) providers, programs and processes recognized by the Professional Body as applicable to all Professional Practitioners designated for purposes of re-registration every three years.
  • A centralized and accessible Online Portal: through which access to Professional Recognition, customized and quality assured CPD, and regulation and governance of the Professional Body is standardized and scrutinized by SAQA.
  • A Professional Code of Conduct: A dedicated focus on the combination of up-to-date and current Competence in the Professional Practitioner, always underscored by professional and accountable behavior.

The reference to Professional Practitioners does not only refer to the actual Occupational Therapists recognized for the advanced field they practice in, but importantly Professional Training Providers who themselves are recognized by the Professional Body for purposes of the provision of CPD, where their CPD content is registered, and quality assured by the Professional Body. In this way those Providers distinguish themselves from others who may be recognized within the profession but are not subject to any Quality Assurance.

OTASA is proud to announce to the world that it has taken responsibility for the recognition, registration and the quality assurance of Professional Practitioners in a range of Advanced Fields of Practice of Occupational Therapy in a way that assures the South African public that these practitioners are ACCOUNTABLE, PROFESSIONAL and dedicated to ensuring that they maintain the standard of their practice at current levels of International Best Practices.