Introductory blog from CSH's newest Occupational Therapy Sustainability Volunteer

Anna Michell's picture

Hello everyone, my name Anna Michell and I have become the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s (CSH) newest Occupational Therapy Sustainability Volunteer. My role with CSH will be to write up case studies about current sustainable Occupational Therapy practice and help with the development of the involvement of Occupational Therapists in the NHS Forest Project.

My first degree was in Zoology and I have always been interested in how ecological systems work and their sustainability. Within my career I have worked as both a gardener, and more recently with children through my own childcare business. It was as a childcare practitioner that I became very interested in the therapeutic use of green space interventions.

I enjoyed using the outdoors as a learning tool and negotiated a growing bed within Oxgrow (Oxford Edible Garden Community) which I took the children to on a regular basis. From an Occupational Therapy perspective, I became particularly interested on the impact of green space on a child’s physiological and psychological health and wellbeing. I also liked how you could grade and adapt activities to the individual child’s needs. This interest led me to undertake a second degree in Occupational Therapy with Oxford Brookes University.

In my final degree year, I requested a role-emerging placement with the charity FarmAbility where sustainable healthcare meets sustainable farming. FarmAbility enables co-farmers (adults with autism and/or learning disabilities) to participate in green space interventions using land farmed by FAI (a company who look at sustainable sourcing solutions for the food supply chain).  Whilst the impact of farming on the environment and its contribution to climate change is commonly cited in the media, it is important to remember that we too as clinicians have an obligation to reduce carbon emissions.

The NHS’s carbon reduction strategy seeks to match the Climate Change Act which binds the UK to an 80% reduction in carbon emission by 2050. As Occupational Therapists we can seek to contribute to this through lean service delivery and preferential use of treatments that have a lower environmental impact (Mortimer 2010). We are already in a strong position to champion sustainability through our models of practice as they take into consideration the impact of the environment and social and economic factors on our client’s occupations.

The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) in a position statement “requires Occupational Therapists to work with individuals and communities to create a society in which all people pursue personal occupational objectives in a sustainable manner” (WFOT 2012). I would really like to hear from you if you would like to contribute to a case study about how you are currently using sustainable practice as an Occupational Therapist.

Since qualifying I spent 5 months working for CAMHS, before going on maternity leave. Whilst on leave I realised that whilst I enjoy working with children, my really interest lies in the interface between green space interventions and health and wellbeing. It was through this realisation that I came across the work of CSH. Over the next 6 months I am really looking forward to help develop how Occupational Therapists can become more involved with the NHS Forest Project and would really like to hear from you if you would like to be involved too, so please do get in touch.

 

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