Making health equity a reality:
Don't hold your breath for health equity, OTs - hold the hands of those in need and make it happen!
That's the message from the profession's leaders to all occupational therapists as they launch Occupational Therapy Week 2021.
This year's theme, #OTsForEquity, set by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT), places people in need firmly at the top of the UK's OT agenda.
After all, which other professional on the healthcare frontline is better placed to investigate, identify, and address the myriads of daily activity challenges folks face?
Inequities in health are not inevitable or necessary; they are unjust and are the product of unfair social, economic and political arrangements.
It is hoped occupational therapy practitioners across the UK will back this week's #OTsForEquity campaign by helping to create a toolbox full of health equity support strategies.
The RCOT will also be calling on government and healthcare leaders for more funding and resources for OTs as part of a more comprehensive long-term strategy.
'As a profession, occupational therapists are on the frontline of health equity and are uniquely placed to understand and tackle the challenges people face,' the RCOT argues in its campaign launch.
"Occupational therapists see health inequalities every day, supporting and helping those most in need.
"This Occupational Therapy Week, let's shine the light on the role occupational therapists currently play in addressing health equity.
"And work together to collect your ideas and identify what support and tools you need to do even more in future."
The RCOT defines health equity as 'fair opportunity to live a long, healthy life.'
But it points out, 'systematic differences' in health between different groups has resulted in unequal distribution of healthcare between communities.
And the inequalities have been exposed all the more by the covid pandemic.
It adds, 'Inequities in health are not inevitable or necessary; they are unjust and are the product of unfair social, economic and political arrangements.
'Whilst, in theory, everyone in the UK has the same access to healthcare, in reality, the causes of ill health are very different depending on where you live, your socio-economic class and your ethnicity.'
To help promote the campaign's health equity aims, RCOT is hosting free online events throughout the week.
- Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot, Director of the University College London Institute of Health Equity, will be the guest speaker at the online launch event tonight.
- Afterwards, there will be a live Q&A session, chaired by RCOT Chair of Council, Professor Diane Cox, with a panel of OTs and other allied health professionals, including representatives of BAMEOT UK, AbleOT and LGBTQIA+OT UK.
- On Wednesday, November 3, Karin Orman, RCOT Assistant Director - Professional Practice, will host a #OTalk health equity special.
- And RCOT Chief Executive Steve Ford will be making health equity the burning issue of a Twitter Spaces conversation on Bonfire Night, November 5.
As well as supporting the online events, all OTs this week are being urged to share and suggest strategies for improving health equity - and call on their organisations to help too.
'Occupational therapists have a unique set of skills and are already ingrained in work in the three key routes out of poverty: education, housing and jobs,' RCOT says.
'Through working in these areas, occupational therapists can tackle the cause rather than the symptoms of health inequality.
'As the UK nations recover and rebuild from the pandemic, let's create a healthier, more resilient society.
'Occupational therapists have a duty and the skills to play a key role in making this happen.'
Current examples of OTs in health equity action can be found in:
- Mainstream UK schools where OTs work with vulnerable children
- London, where OTs are working with planners on disability housing designs
- Wales where OTs are running employment drop-in centres
Underpinning occupational therapy practice is the belief that the better a person's ability to carry out their occupations and what they enjoy doing in daily life, the happier and healthier they are.
The UK's Occupational Therapy Week follows World Occupational Therapy Day and the profession's Global Day of Service, both on October 27.
The theme of this year's World Occupational Therapy Day, hosted by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, was 'Belong. Be You'.
To support the day of service, practitioners and students volunteer professional time to help an individual or organisationon or around the date.
Find out more about the UK's Occupational Therapy Week 2021, helpful digital resources and how to join in here: RCOT: Occupational Therapy Week 2021
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