AOTI Statement on COVID-19
Occupational Therapy and the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the lives, health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities throughout Ireland. We understand that members are seeking guidance and clarification on how they can safely and effectively deliver Occupational Therapy services at this challenging time. In response to this we have developed the COVID-19 section of our website, where we have gathered a wide range of resources from reputable sources covering key areas such as:
- CORU updates
- Critical care
- Mental health/psychosocial
- Clinical topics
- Online learning
The Occupational Therapy profession has a critical role to play in helping people respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our unique occupational focus can be central to identifying new and creative solutions in response to this unprecedented and challenging situation. Occupational therapists are ideally placed to respond to the many impacts of the pandemic on our clients and the general population including mental health and psychosocial impacts.
Occupation is our core professional construct and focus. When we use the word occupation, we are referring to the everyday activities that people do as individuals, in families and with communities to bring meaning and purpose to their life. Occupations include things people need to, want to and are expected to do. Our role is to help people address the disruption to their occupation caused by illness, injury, disability or challenging life events.
People all over Ireland are experiencing disruption to their occupations because of the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The inability to engage in valued everyday activities like spending time with family and friends, going to school or college and going for a night out is widespread. The loss of role through unemployment or being furloughed has been thrust upon many citizens. The new restrictions, stresses and fears caused by the pandemic has impacted on many people’s mental health and sense of wellbeing. Our role at this time can be to help people address the disruptions to their occupations caused by COVID-19.
Occupational therapists are experts at helping people find new ways of doing things at challenging times. Our profession is very well placed to be part of the problem solving that is now needed to find new and safe ways of working while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Our core knowledge and skills of enablement, collaboration, adaptation, assessment and problem solving are uniquely suited to this time of change and will serve us well in navigating the new Ireland and health service landscape. We can use these core skills to influence change and creatively develop new ways of working for our profession.
For those who were in receipt of Occupational Therapy services prior to the pandemic, their therapy has been greatly disrupted with many people’s service having been withdrawn or severely curtailed due to the requirements for social distancing and a focus on emergency services. Therefore, timely Occupational Therapy intervention delivered through telehealth and other safe means can mitigate against more long-term effects and resulting future demand on services.
We would like to draw your attention to the following national and international resources which capture some of the key emerging information needs among our members at this time:
Acute Care Decision Guide (AOTA)
In This Together: ideas and activities for people of all ages (Irish Government)
Supporting the Irish Occupational Therapy Profession
We have received numerous queries from members, particularly those in private practice, seeking clarity on when they can return to work and in what phase of the government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business this can take place in. While AOTI is unable to advise a specific service or practitioner on when they can reopen, we recognise that members are seeking assistance with making such decisions. We have therefore decided to establish the Working Group on Return to Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic, in partnership with the AOTI Private Practice Advisory Group. This group will develop guidance for members to assist decision-making on return to work and resumption of Occupational Therapy service provision, with a particular emphasis on private practice. The working group will complete its work in the shortest possible timeframe given the urgency of the matter for AOTI members. Members will be advised as soon as the guidance is available.
As the COVID-19 section of our website has been developed to provide access to reliable information and resources, and to help all Occupational Therapy practitioners, educators and students navigate through this uncertain time, AOTI has lifted member-only access to this section. To support AOTI’s efforts and to access the full range of member benefits, we ask non-members to consider becoming a member of AOTI today.
Our priority is to continue to keep members informed as the situation evolves. Check in regularly to the COVID-19 section for the latest updates. If you have any questions, comments or resources to share with us, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
AOTI Board of Directors and Management Team