Consideration of the environment is integral to occupational therapy models and interventions, yet if we are not addressing the issue of climate change and the probable impacts on service users and ourselves, are we being truly holistic?
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists, College of Occupational Therapists and Swedish Association of Occupational Therapists have all produced papers exploring sustainable OT practice. The COT code of ethics encourages OTs to 'expand our clinical reasoning about occupational performance to include sustainable development', and service users can benefit from this incorporation of a sustainable healthful approach to practice.
Common occupations already explored by OTs with service users such as gardening, cooking, craft and exercise could all be viewed through a ‘sustainable lens’ and are known to promote psycho-emotional well being, often resulting in ‘peak’ or ‘flow’ experiences. The co-benefits to service users are likely to include better health awareness, cost savings and improved quality of life. A brief overview of sustainable occupational therapy practice is given in this consensus statement from a networking day at the COT.
OT Susnet started life in 2009 when Tamara Rayment, an occupational therapist who had seen what we were doing to create a community of people and practice in Green Nephrology, approached us with the determination to do the same in OT. Tamara worked with us entirely on a voluntary basis and helped the Green Occupational Therapy network to grow to over 250 people. Ben Whittaker joined her later that year and together they wrote papers, presented at conferences and created an energetic network.
Ben is now the lead on this specialty and works for CSH one day a week alongside his job as a mental health occupational therapist. The Occupational Therapy Sustainable Practice Network (OT Susnet) now numbers over 600 and is inspiring international accolades as well as local action. Ben is exploring the clinical reasoning underpinning sustainable OT practice*, as well as linking in with the College of Occupational Therapists, the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and research collaborators.
We would like to thank Tamara very much for her impetus to start the group and enthusiasm in developing it in the early years.
To read articles relating to sustainable occupational therapy and other areas of sustainable clinical practice please visit our publications page.
* Whittaker B (2012) Sustainable Global Wellbeing: a proposed expansion of the occupational therapy paradigm. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 75(9) 436-439