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Occupational Therapy in Social Services: a Missed Opportunity?

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The College of Occupational Therapists' recent document, A Strategy for Modernising Occupational Therapy Services in Local Health and Social Care Communities - a Consultation (COT 2002), has provoked debate within the profession on the future delivery of occupational therapy services across health and social care. This seems an appropriate time to reflect on events of 30 years ago when, following the initial separation of health and social services, the profession was faced with the dilemma as to where occupational therapists should be located. This paper looks at the events and issues influencing the profession's decisions then, using a grounded theory approach and drawing on literature and documentation.

At that time, discussions raised concerns about the division of skills, adherence to the ethical code and the status within the profession of occupational therapists working in local authorities. The profession's immaturity, lack of autonomy and medical orientation were key factors in influencing its response, which focused on drawing all occupational therapists into the health service. Despite lengthy discussions and consultations, the profession could not influence events and some local authority occupational therapists automatically became part of the newly set-up social services departments. Analysis reveals a possible missed opportunity to establish a firm foundation for occupational therapy in social services, the consequences of which are still evident today.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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