‘An exploration of changing occupational therapy roles in working with older people over the last 30 years’

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Leisle Ezekiel and Carol Mytton

Sport and Health Sciences, Oxford Brookes University

‘An exploration of changing occupational therapy roles in working with older people over the last 30 years’

(Introduced by: Prof John Hall, Centre for Health, Medicine and Society, and Health and Life Sciences)

[25min; 16 slides]


Paper presented to the International Research Symposium:

"Therapy and Empowerment – Coercion and Punishment:

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Labour and Occupational Therapy"

26–27 June 2013,  St Anne’s College, Oxford


Abstract: Despite considerable restructuring and relocation of health and social care, occupational therapy remains a minority profession. Occupational therapists continue to have to compromise their values and beliefs about occupational therapy practice with the realities of health and social care provision today.  This presents dilemmas in how therapists provide empowering person centred interventions.

Drawing on the work of several  practising occupational therapists and occupational therapy educators, the presentation will look at past occupational therapy practice and developments over the last 30 years.

The presentation will include the work of students participating in a MSc module called ‘Occupational Therapy: New Perspectives’.  Students have considered older people as occupational beings (with reference to emerging theories of occupational science) as well as exploring the impact of current theories, professional and policy drivers on contemporary practice.

This is contrasted with reflections on occupational therapy practice of 1980’s where there was an absence of specific occupational therapy theory. Occupational therapy in the UK predominantly followed a medical model and largely took place within institutions.

The presentation will map the changes in the expression of professional identity and values - but places this within the context of a politically driven system and resource constraints. We will focus particularly on the changes in relationship between the therapist and older person within the constantly shifting health and social care arena.



•Brown T (2013) Person-centred occupational practice:is it time for a change of terminology? BJOT 76 (5) p 207.

•COT (2011) Professional standards for occupational therapy practice. Online http://www.cot.co.uk/standards-ethics/professional-standards-occupational-therapy-practiceAccessed on 29.05.13

•Helm M (1987) Occupational Therapy with the elderly. Edinburgh: Churchill & Livingstone

•MacDonald EM(1976) Occupational Therapy in rehabilitation. (4th edition).  London: Bailliere Tindall.

•Mosey AC (1981)  Occupational Therapy: configuration of a profession. New York: Raven.

•Rivett G (1998) From the cradle to the grave: 50 years of the NHS.  London: Kings Fund

•Sakellariou D, Pollard N (2008) Three sites of conflict and cooperation: class, gender and sexuality. In N Pollard (et al) (eds) A political practice of occupational therapy. Churchill & Livingstone.

•Turner A (2011) The Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture 2011: Occupational therapy – a profession in adolescence? BJOT 74(7), 314-322.

With thanks to MSc occupational therapy students for their contribution.



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