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Core Values or Core Skills ?........... You decide

Posted Jan 22 2009 5:13pm

Here is a post that is long overdue - I have been meaning to share these thoughts with you before now - I guess I am finding it hard to "verbalise" my thoughts but then I decided that I would just write them down and offer them for discussion and debate.
It stems from a session I was running with our third year undergraduate students, preparing them to go off to their role-emerging placements before Xmas. The session was discussing how one might offer explanation of what OT is and what an OT might offer the new team to a potentially brand new audience. Of course this seems to be an everlasting debate and one that has proved difficult for as long as I've been an OT (25 years) and before that too.
Anyway, I was offering the idea of using our core skills to define ourselves by and to identify those things that make us unique and asking students to offer their understanding of our core skills. Many were suggesting such things as client-centred, holistic, collaborative, groupwork etc and I jumped in with the view that these are not core as they could be said to be practiced by many other health and social care professions and offered my own understanding of core skills being the use of graded activity as a therapeutic tool, activity analysis , focus on occupational performance etc.
The wind was quickly taken out of my sails when a student pointed out that COT, in their briefing of 2006 (Definitions and Core Skills for OT) identify core skills as " expert knowledge and abilities shared by all OTs" and uses Creek's ( 2003- OT as a complex intervention ) definition that states that our core skills are built around occupation and activity but then lists collaboration, assessment, enablement. problem solving and groupwork as part of these. Teach me to keep upto date with my reading I thought. However, I have since reflected on this and I do have some concerns that maybe, in order to end this debate we need to identify what is meant by "core" does it mean unique to a profession, or does it mean core as in the fundamental values of a profession? These may seem similar and possibly a pedantic exercise, but I believe that they are different and cause confusion when establishing the unique contribution and value that an occupational therapist can bring to a client and/or an organisation (see current discussions on our blog for another post discussing similar issues).
Maybe we need to talk about Core Values and Core Skills - I'd be interested to hear your views on this - please feel free to press the comment button and add to the discussion.

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