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Generic working eroding Occupational Therapy

Posted Nov 26 2008 12:13pm
In my previous position within a mental health assertive outreach team I was required to undertake the roles of occupational therapist and care co-ordinator. As the title suggests, care co-ordinators are compelled to oversee all aspects of a service user’s care, ranging from issues such as housing and benefits, to criminal and legal matters and illicit substance misuse.
The requirements of this role led me and a colleague to reflect on the generic work we were undertaking when acting as a care co-ordinator and how this was seemingly at odds with our role as occupational therapists. Whilst we could bring the philosophy of occupational therapy to care co-ordination, it certainly was not occupational therapy. For a more detailed discussion of occupational therapy and care co-ordination see our recently published article at

I understand that this generic way of working is not exclusive to mental health; it occurs in many other areas of occupational therapy practice. So why do managers and policymakers deem it an appropriate use of skills to oblige some occupational therapists to undertake generic working, in some cases on a vast scale? Some occupational therapists report to enjoy and value the variety of being able to work generically. But what could be more varied than occupational therapy? It is such a unique and diverse profession that has the potential to touch every area of human existence. The issue of generic working also raises the question of professional identity and to a broader degree the whole future of the profession. How is occupational therapy expected not only to survive, but thrive as a profession, when it is continually being eroded by generic working?
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