An exploration of communication between clients and professionals in the design of home adaptations

Authors: Nord, Catharina; Eakin, Pamela; Astley, Phil; Atkinson, Andrew R

Source: The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, Volume 72, Number 5, May 2009 , pp. 197-204(8)

Publisher: College of Occupational Therapists

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This study explored communications between the people involved in the design of home adaptations, including clients and carers, occupational therapists, surveyors and builders. The aims were to explore (i) what constituted good communication in this context and (ii) how communication occurred. One London borough was selected as a case study. All participants lived or worked within the borough and had been involved in the adaptation process. Nineteen individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with six clients, four occupational therapists, six grant surveyors and three builders.

The findings suggest that the professionals constituted a 'community of practice' (Wenger 1998) within which communication was good. The professionals used plan drawings to support communication between them. However, the study found that client involvement in the design was limited and that plan drawings were not effective tools in communication with them. The clients relied on the occupational therapist to represent their interests in the design process. Occupational therapists' communication with clients on the design of adaptations may be enhanced by the development and use of more sophisticated visualisation tools to replace the plan drawings. This would enable clients to become more engaged in the adaptations process.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2012 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 1.096.

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