This house agrees…

Rebecca Gibbs's picture

What do the possibilities of sustainability and the reality of climate change mean for occupational therapy?  On the 21st November I had the privilege of spending the day with just some of the OTs who are enthusiastic about exploring these questions and future proofing OT services for patients. The first College of Occupational Therapy Sustainability Networking Session drew together OTs from a wide range of settings including mental health, children, social care, learning disabilities and those in education. It was a strikingly positive and stimulating day with sessions on the Sustainable Development Unit’s strategy led by Sonia Roschnik and a permaculture approach to OT from COT’s Genevieve Smyth.  A brighter future seemed more possible by the time we left for home. 


Here’s the consensus statement that participants developed and signed up to: 

Sustainability in occupational therapy engages with environmental, economic and social issues to address global health and wellbeing both now and in the future.

Occupational therapists have a particular duty that is rooted in exploring how occupations and activities of daily living impact upon the climate. Occupational therapists can re-evaluate practice models and expand clinical reasoning about occupational performance to include global issues, focusing on places, communities and society as well as individuals and their needs. This is supported by existing concepts, such as occupational ecology, occupational choice and occupational justice. 

Sustainable occupational therapy practice will:

  1. Continue to explore the social, economic, environmental and spiritual determinants of health as part of preventative healthcare approaches
  2. Continue to empower and enable people to take control of their own wellbeing and their impact on communities
  3. Eliminate wasteful activity
  4. Make use of low carbon alternatives

Occupational Therapists will share and promote knowledge and research in order to influence health and wellbeing and commissioning strategies in the future.

Occupational therapists can take a leading role in enabling a shift towards sustainable occupations, including sustainability in activity analysis, supporting public health agendas, utilising the therapeutic value of natural settings and nurturing support networks.  These are some examples that can improve care for people while reducing economic, social and environmental costs.


WFOT (2012)

COT Code of Ethics

SDU Strategy


What are your thoughts?

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