Q1. Describe occupation as a concept.
There is no one agreed definition of occupation, however there are common themes amongst the different explanations of what occupation actually is, some of the common words within these definitions are things such as ‘individuals, doing, experience and personal’. Pierce (2001, p139) gives the definition that ‘’Occupation is a specific individuals personally constructed, none repeatable experience” while Gollege (1998a) cited in Turner (2000) described occupation as ‘’part of an individual’s lifestyle, performed in a manner that reflects an individuals personal style’’.
Occupation is sub divided into four categories, self care, productivity, leisure and restorative. Anything a person does will fall into one of these categories (McColl, 2004). All of these are equally important to maintain a healthy lifestyle; each of these are performed with the balance that meets the health and satisfaction of that one person.
The individual is then broken down into four areas. These four areas are as followed; the physical dimension: the musculoskeletal, psychological-emotional: feelings and thoughts, cognitive: perceptual and sensory aspects and socio-cultural dimension, things such as attitudes, beliefs, behaviour and roles, all of which are a result of an individual’s social setting and upbringing. Any one of these things could have an impact on the way an occupation would be executed. Taking sociocultural dimensions for example and the occupation of cooking a meal, there are many issues which affect the way this occupation is carried out, finances, roles within a family or a group and ethnicity (Nelson and Jepson-Thomas, 2003) The way a professional footballer would carry out this occupation would differ to the way of a single mother on a low income, this would have obvious financial factors which would affect the occupation, the type of food cooked, the location of the occupation.
There are also factors external to the individual which need to be taken into account, natural environments; rivers, countryside, mountains and weather. Built environments; roads, buildings, stairways and paths. There are also natural objects; animals, trees, rocks, grass and plants. Finally there are fabricated objects, things like cars, cloths, shoes, appliances, tools, and books. All of these things must be taken into account. Looking at the occupation of gardening, before this occupation would be carried out there is a number of things to consider; suitable clothing, is it the correct weather to be out in the garden? Has the individual got the tools needed to carry the occupation out? Also, lighting and time of day.
In conclusion, occupation can be anything a person does which has a number of objective and subjective factors to consider. Every occupation in how it is performed is unique to the individual at that point in time and can never be performed in that exact manor again (Pierce 2001).
Q2. Describe the unique contribution of occupational therapy as a profession.
Occupational Therapists work alongside a number of other health care professionals and at times these professions can overlap (Rogers, 2005). However, part of what makes Occupational Therapy unique is that their ‘’knowledge is based on the recognition of the importance of occupations within a particular environment to improve performance and the effects of disease and disability’’ (Rogers, 2005 p72). The importance of occupation is central to what occupational therapist do, believe and practise (Creek, 2008). The theory that occupation could aid good health was believed and practiced as far back as the 4th century BC (Peterson, 2008). Also Bruce & Borg (2001 cited in Rogers 2005, p.73) states that ‘’occupational therapists and scholars agree that a relative balance of occupational performance is an essential force influencing the human being’s state of wellbeing’’. An occupational therapist does not cure illness nor do they diagnose ailments but what they do is concentrate on what affects the disability or illness has on the patient and how this will affect the patients ability to perform occupations. Creek (2008) give the example that ‘’the occupational therapist will try and slow down the process of dementia by involving the client in a balanced programme of activities to maintain physical and cognitive functioning, rather than by tackling the disease itself.’’
Occupational Therapy is a client and occupation centred profession and the whole person approach is a crucial part of intervention. An occupational therapist looks at the person as a whole and the environment a person lives in. An occupational therapist takes into consideration all aspects of the patient, Physical and sociocultural dimensions, the patients surroundings, the social settings and the role within that social setting. The psychological affects a disease or disability also has on a client is extremely important. They look at how a patient functioned in the past, the present and what a patient strives to do in the future. It is all of these things which makes each patient different and it is the occupational therapist who recognises that every patient is an individual and no two patients are ever the same in what they do, want or feel.
Another factor which is unique to Occupational therapy is activity analysis. Creek (2008, p.37) states that ‘’core to occupational therapy is activity analysis, adaption, synthesis and application’’ Before a Occupational therapist can implement any intervention they must observe the client, taking the time to get to know the client and gaining a understanding of what that clients wants and feels they can achieve and also as important; whether that client has a realistic view on what he/she can accomplish. Watching the client perform everyday activities and analysing the client’s actions is sometimes the best way to determine which type of intervention to use.
Q3. Reflect upon your independent learning within this module.
Within this module we have covered and learnt about a wide variety of subjects, tools and technology. There have been many sections within this module which I have found extremely useful. Some of the things we have worked on have not only taught me how to be a more productive independent learner but have also taught me a lot about myself as a person, some of which are good and some are not so good but all of these things I can either draw from or work on improving.
The part within this module i have enjoyed the most was the lecture on the history of Occupational Therapy. I feel for me to totally understand something and be able to relate to it I have to have at least a basic understanding and knowledge of where it came from or how it was created. Having finished the lecture on the history of OT I had then continued to research it further and found it very interesting that although occupational therapy does not date back as far as the 4th century BC the idea of using occupation to aid good health goes back as far as the roman times. (Paterson, 2008) See appendix 1.
The journal club is also something which I found very helpful. Having been given the journal to read I was slightly overwhelmed by the terminology used within the journal, this was a real confidence knock for me. It wasn’t until our group had come together to share our thoughts it became apparent that I was not the only person with these same worries. Being able to talk these worries through with others I found a great help and put my mind at ease. (see appendix 2)
Another part which I found very interesting was the learning styles, having completed the Honey and Mumford learning styles questionnaire it had linked me with being a pragmatist. (see appendix 3) I feel this is an accurate interpretation on what kind of learner I am and also my outlook on life.
On a whole I have found the reading around the concept of occupation the most challenging part, reading around a subject I thought I knew where the fact was I knew very little about. Admitting to myself, let alone others that I was wrong is not something I do easily.
This module has been a real emotional rollercoaster for me, going from the excitement of learning new things to the dread of having to get my head around things such as referencing and citing. I have learnt that at times I need to take a step back and manage my time better in order to get the most from independent learning. I need to realise that no matter how much I think I may know about something the chances are I don’t know it all and need to be open to listen and learn further.
Krama, P. Hinojosa, J & Royeen, C.B. (2003) Perspectives in Human Occupation: Participation in Life. Baltimore USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Mccoll, A. et al. (2003) Theoretical Basis of Occupation Therapy. 2nd Edition. USA: SLACK incorporated.
Turner, A. Foster, M & Johnson, S.E. (2005) Occupational Therapy and Physical Dysfunction: Principles, Skills and Practise. 5th Edition. China: CHIRCHILL LIVINGSTONE.
Rogers, S.L. (2005) Portrait of Occupational Therapy, Journal of Interprofessional Care, Vol 19 (1) P70-79.
Creek, J & Van, H. (2008) Occupational Therapy and Mental Health. 4th Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone.
Crepeau, E.B. Cohn, E.S & Boyt Schell, B.A. (2003) Willard & Spackman’s Occupational Therapy. 10th Edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.