What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is the process of conveying a message that is intended to influence actions on behalf of others.
For occupational therapists, this relates to clients as well as other Albertans who may not be achieving their potential function in everyday activities that bring meaning and purpose to their lives.
Advocating for your Client
An occupational therapist can act as a voice for those who are actually affected by an issue but are unable to speak for themselves or have difficulty doing so. Advocating for a client can direct decision-making towards a solution.
On a ‘routine’ OT visit for equipment prescription for a veteran, an occupational therapist observed that the client appeared to require assistance for mental health issues. The OT immediately brought this to the attention of the case manager. In conversation with the case manager, the OT described the individualized assessment that could be conducted with both the client and his family and listed examples of the services that could be provided. It was agreed that the OT would submit a treatment plan, including cost of time required to provide services, to Veterans Affairs Canada for approval.
Advocating for Access to OT Services
Occupational therapists can make tremendous contributions to optimize a client’s participation in the occupations of everyday life. However, these benefits are often unknown or misunderstood by the public and others working within the health care system. As a result, people who could benefit from occupational therapy do not have access to OT services.
Reaching Out: Today’s Activist Occupational Therapy
Provocative stories of activist occupational therapists reaching out with those seeking something meaningful to do, engaging people in transforming real life by learning through doing and connecting systems from education and health to welfare, industry, transportation and justice. Watch video here.
- Lean in and carve out your role (before someone else does it).
- Show what you can do! Put your scope of practice on display!
- Be clear on whom you want to influence and what you want to change.
- Have a clearly defined ask.
- Do not ask decision makers to do something that is not in their power.