The Role of an Ot in the Work Practice


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When I hear the word “work” the first thing that usually comes to mind is when a person does something to get payment as a reward but in OT I have learnt that there are many things a person has to consider before classifying an activity as work. There are many ways in which “work” can be defined and this makes it even harder to explain it because it is understood and used differently all over the world. (Ross, 2007).

A lot of times one often struggles with determining whether an activity falls under work or leisure. (Ross, 2007). One way to determine whether an activity is work or leisure is to take in account the meaning and purpose people perceive from engaging in the occupation. (Ross, 2007). An example of this would be, a taxi driver who drives people around to get money which can be classified as work or another person who drives their family to go to vacations and this is an example of leisure. Culture and context influences how much people value an occupation that is the meaning and purpose they derive from it. (Ross, 2007). Work is considered to be a very important form of occupation by occupational therapists. (Ross, 2007). Classification of workWork is differentiated in four ways: paid work, unpaid work, hidden work and substitute work. (Ross, 2007). Paid work is associated with payment and it can be divided according to specific functions/goals a person has to achieve in the work space for example professional, skilled, unskilled or managerial etc. (Ross, 2007). People have different experiences of paid work. While some people only work for survival others work for satisfaction, emotional reward and because they find their work meaningful. (Ross, 2007). Unpaid works consists of all the work activities that do not attract financial gain. (Ross, 2007). This form of work mainly consists of unemployed people trying to get income. Examples of this form include volunteering and housework. (Ross, 2007).

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The most common perception or meaning people have for engaging in these activities is love. (Ross, 2007). Most women engage in housework activities because it is what most cultures expect from women. (Ross, 2007). They are influenced by culture and social norms. Volunteering happens outside homes so it helps to minimise social isolation, it assists in developing positive social identities. (Ross, 2007). Through volunteering people gain social support, improved self-esteem, skills and a positive sense of wellbeing and health. (Ross, 2007). Hidden work is often referred to as the informal sector and it involves illegal work activities. (Ross, 2007) Examples in this form of work include forced labour, informal shops/business that evade tax and drug trafficking. Lastly, substitute work refers to occupations that have been specifically reserved for disabled people and they are usually not paid and their main purpose is to provide therapeutic earning. (Ross, 2007). It is usually run by voluntary sector organisations, local authority day centres and outpatient OT services. (Ross, 2007). Role of an OT in work practiceOccupational therapists play a major role in helping people to go back to work after an accident, disease, disability or injury. (Work practice slides, 2018). They work with their clients to ensure that they work in safe environments to enable them to flourish and thrive in their occupations. (Work practice slides, 2018). Occupational therapist can be a voice to vulnerable people (disabled/injured) people to establish fairness in the work place, to try to diminish any form of exploitation and to ensure they get same opportunities as everyone. (Work practice slides, 2018). Theory that came out most aliveThe theory that talks about the individual’s experiences, the relationship of between workplace and the worker. (Ross, 2007). Several factors influence a person’s wellbeing in their work environment. (Ross, 2007).

An example of these factors is job satisfaction. (Ross,2007). Basically the theory implies that the most satisfied person is the one with a secure job, one who is involved in decision making and is able to participate and work to their full capacity. (Ross, 2007). During this week on Wednesday I had a chance to visit the Dominican school. This is a school for blind children. One may argue that school is not the same as work but it really showed me how determined people may be when they are doing something they love. The children are in a good space and the environment has a positive influence on them. One teacher told me that these children actually think they are their parents which shows how deep their bond or communication goes. We had a chance to observe the cooking class and it was the most amazing experience ever. At first I was really worried about how am I going to communicate with the children but when I got there I realised it wasn’t so bad because the teachers were very accommodating and agreed to be translators which made the conversation go smoothly. The kids were very friendly. To them being deaf is not a curse. I was really inspired by them, they made sign language look very interesting and I left the place wanting to learn the language. Their disability doesn’t define who they are and how they live their lives. They are happy and they joke around just like normal people. They gave me a sign name which made me feel excited about working with them in the future The role of an OT in mental healthWhat is mental health?Some people can confuse mental health and mental health by thinking it’s the same thing which is something I also had a problem with. (Mental health slides, 2018). Mental health is the state of wellbeing in which a person has fully functional mental activities such as thinking. (Mental health slides, 2018). What is mental illness?Mental illness is a medical condition where a person’s mental capabilities are negatively affected disrupting their thinking feeling and daily functioning. (Mental health slides, 2018). The role of an OT in mental healthOccupational therapists use people’s occupations to prevent mental illness and to promote their mental health. (Mental health slides, 2018). They always aim to improve and enable people to participate in occupations that are meaningful to them. (Mental health slides, 2018).

They focus on the occupational dysfunction that mental illness causes and they try to minimise their effects to enable productive living. (Mental health slides, 2018). After learning about the different areas of practice I was really impressed because this shows that as an OT there are many job opportunities. My assumptions were proven wrong because all this time I thought that occupational therapists can only work in hospitals. I am anxious and exited at the same time. I want to be involved and explore every area of practice at the same time I am still learning what occupational therapy is really because before coming here I only had a brief idea of what it is. It makes me happy to know that I will not be limited in terms of where and who I work with. I was not happy learning that disabled people have their own classification of work because I feel this is discriminating towards them. It is disheartening to realise that they are not given the same opportunities as able bodies’ people even if they have the same mental and sometimes physical capabilities to do the same job. I believe they should not be judged before their capabilities are determined. It is unfair that they are never given any control or managerial work but instead they are often stuck in administrative work. (Ross, 2007). Key learnings I will be taking into practice. In reflection, I thought occupational therapy was all about resolving people’s issues or improving their medical conditions rather focusing on the actual person. I now realise that this was wrong of me and in future I will work towards addressing all environmental influences and factors that hinder or promote their occupational performance. Building on my knowledge and reflections I will make sure I show the appropriate level of sympathy towards my clients. Furthermore I will certainly ensure I don’t have any preconceptions about my clients and judge them before actually knowing them. I now know that I must all my clients in a different shed of light and I shall see beyond a person’s disability, injury or disease in order to ensure a dignified and productive treatment.

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