Title

Poster Session - A community-based fieldwork exploring occupational justice: The student perspective

Location

Himmarshee Room & 8th Floor Balcony

Start Time

3-10-2015 11:45 AM

End Time

3-10-2015 1:00 PM

Abstract

Background and Rationale: This presentation will examine the theoretical constructs and relationships between occupation, justice, and a person-centered approach as perceived by occupational therapy students in a community-based fieldwork. The dynamic nature of the healthcare system and the recent decline in placements for fieldwork present unique challenges to student learning. To meet the demand for these challenges, students are increasingly being placed in community-based settings for completion of their required fieldwork. According to Scaffa (2001), community based practice includes a broad range of health-related services including prevention and health promotion. Community-based practice is further defined by considering location, elements of professional autonomy, or social justice (Gat & Ratzon, 2014, p. e47). Wilcock (1998) introduced the concept of occupational justice. This term was meant to reflect the belief that societies should provide opportunities for people to engage in meaningful occupations that allow them to develop their potential and participate in their communities (Braveman & Suarez-Balcazar, 2009, p.15). Community based fieldwork has been found to provide students with opportunities to explore different cultures and overcome stereotypical thinking concerning minority populations (Gat & Ratzon, 2014, p. e48). While the benefits of community-based fieldwork have received considerable attention, the students’ point of view has seldom been studied.

Statement of Intent: This paper discusses how students perceive their role as providers of occupation based activities in a subsidized housing complex for mixed populations including the elderly, immigrant population, and those transitioning from homelessness. The student experiences will be shared that support several theoretical assumptions from occupational science including:

  1. Participation in a range of occupations for health and social inclusion
  2. Diverse populations shall receive equal privileges in occupations.
  3. Empowering people to engage to their greatest potential as members of a community

Franklin Towers is public housing for the elderly and disadvantaged operated through the Portland Housing Authority (PHA). The mission of the PHA is to provide and expand affordable housing and services that improve quality of life, build community, enhance safety, and promote personal success for the people we serve. Currently the nursing students from the University of Southern Maine offer blood pressure and glucose screenings at this site each week. As part of a senior project, the nursing students completed an interest survey of the residents and discovered a need for an occupational therapy presence. This collaboration began in January of this year with twelve occupational therapy students. Because this was a new community-based site, the occupational therapy students entered with little insight into their role. What they learned from the residents was that they felt unsafe, isolated and had limited resources to do the things they wanted to do. Identifying the injustices, the occupational therapy students created resident specific weekly activities to build community through empowering participation, increasing awareness of resources and aiding with increased self-sufficiency.

Discussion/implications as related to occupational science: As the profession of occupational therapy expands into community based practice, it is important to prepare future practitioners for the responsibility of addressing social and occupational injustices that may exist. This paper will use the lens of occupational science to explore the opportunities that community-based experiences offer students as they prepare for the profession of occupational therapy.

References

Braveman, B., & Suarez-Balcazar, Y. (2009). Social justice and resource utilization in a community-based organization: A case illustration of the role of the occupational therapist. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 13–23.

Gat, S. & Ratzon, N. (2014). Comparison of occupational therapy students’ perceived skills after traditional and nontraditional fieldwork. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, e47-e54.

Scaffa, M. (2001). Occupational therapy in community-based practice settings. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis.

Townsend, E. & Wilcock, A. (2004). Occupational justice and client-centered practice: A dialogue in progress. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(2), 75-87.

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Oct 3rd, 11:45 AM Oct 3rd, 1:00 PM

Poster Session - A community-based fieldwork exploring occupational justice: The student perspective

Himmarshee Room & 8th Floor Balcony

Background and Rationale: This presentation will examine the theoretical constructs and relationships between occupation, justice, and a person-centered approach as perceived by occupational therapy students in a community-based fieldwork. The dynamic nature of the healthcare system and the recent decline in placements for fieldwork present unique challenges to student learning. To meet the demand for these challenges, students are increasingly being placed in community-based settings for completion of their required fieldwork. According to Scaffa (2001), community based practice includes a broad range of health-related services including prevention and health promotion. Community-based practice is further defined by considering location, elements of professional autonomy, or social justice (Gat & Ratzon, 2014, p. e47). Wilcock (1998) introduced the concept of occupational justice. This term was meant to reflect the belief that societies should provide opportunities for people to engage in meaningful occupations that allow them to develop their potential and participate in their communities (Braveman & Suarez-Balcazar, 2009, p.15). Community based fieldwork has been found to provide students with opportunities to explore different cultures and overcome stereotypical thinking concerning minority populations (Gat & Ratzon, 2014, p. e48). While the benefits of community-based fieldwork have received considerable attention, the students’ point of view has seldom been studied.

Statement of Intent: This paper discusses how students perceive their role as providers of occupation based activities in a subsidized housing complex for mixed populations including the elderly, immigrant population, and those transitioning from homelessness. The student experiences will be shared that support several theoretical assumptions from occupational science including:

  1. Participation in a range of occupations for health and social inclusion
  2. Diverse populations shall receive equal privileges in occupations.
  3. Empowering people to engage to their greatest potential as members of a community

Franklin Towers is public housing for the elderly and disadvantaged operated through the Portland Housing Authority (PHA). The mission of the PHA is to provide and expand affordable housing and services that improve quality of life, build community, enhance safety, and promote personal success for the people we serve. Currently the nursing students from the University of Southern Maine offer blood pressure and glucose screenings at this site each week. As part of a senior project, the nursing students completed an interest survey of the residents and discovered a need for an occupational therapy presence. This collaboration began in January of this year with twelve occupational therapy students. Because this was a new community-based site, the occupational therapy students entered with little insight into their role. What they learned from the residents was that they felt unsafe, isolated and had limited resources to do the things they wanted to do. Identifying the injustices, the occupational therapy students created resident specific weekly activities to build community through empowering participation, increasing awareness of resources and aiding with increased self-sufficiency.

Discussion/implications as related to occupational science: As the profession of occupational therapy expands into community based practice, it is important to prepare future practitioners for the responsibility of addressing social and occupational injustices that may exist. This paper will use the lens of occupational science to explore the opportunities that community-based experiences offer students as they prepare for the profession of occupational therapy.