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Promoting occupational therapy interventions in the Australian community aged care sector.

Research paper by Jennifer J Culph, Lindy L Clemson, Justin J Scanlan, Yun-Hee YH Jeon, Kate K Laver

Indexed on: 09 Jan '21Published on: 09 Jan '21Published in: Australian Occupational Therapy Journal



Abstract

With the introduction of consumer-directed care in the Australian community aged care sector, there are more opportunities for occupational therapists to provide evidence-based services that meet consumer needs. There is also an increasing requirement for health professionals to promote their interventions to consumers. Particularly for the implementation of new programs within organisations. However, occupational therapists have historically neglected widely promoting the role of occupational therapy services for older people. This study examines the perceptions of occupational therapists and their managers in promoting their service; the Care of People in their Environment (COPE) Program. This study utilised a qualitative interpretative description; including 28 in-depth interviews. Purposeful sampling ensured a variety of occupational therapists from different health contexts. Thematic analysis captured key emergent themes related to promoting occupational therapy interventions and implementation. Many occupational therapists were apprehensive about promoting or selling their services and interventions. Greater levels of confidence in promoting the program were present when the program aligned with traditional models of service delivery and organisational processes. Occupational therapists described having limited opportunity to directly promote the program to consumers as community case managers were mostly the main contact at the organisation. There was limited consideration of promotion strategies and therefore limited enactment of strategies by organisations. Not-for-profit and non-government organisations recognise that the changed community aged care market provided new business opportunities. With changes in the Australian aged care system, occupational therapy has great opportunity to provide diverse, evidence-based interventions driven by the needs of consumers. Reframing the notion of 'selling', to empowering consumers to be more informed about their options, will allow occupational therapists to build confidence in their promotional skills. Promoting evidence-based programs will have positive outcomes for the visibility, professional identity and recognition of occupational therapy. © 2021 Occupational Therapy Australia.