Professional standards for occupational therapy practice
These professional standards for occupational therapy practice are produced by the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) for and on behalf of the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT), the national professional body and trade union for occupational therapists throughout the United Kingdom
'Occupational therapists view people as occupational beings. People are intrinsically active and creative, needing to engage in a balanced range of activities in their daily lives in order to maintain health and wellbeing. People shape, and are shaped by, their experiences and interactions with their environments. They create identity and meaning through what they do and have the capacity to transform themselves through premeditated and autonomous action.
'The purpose of occupational therapy is to enable people to fulfil, or to work towards fulfilling, their potential as occupational beings. Occupational therapists promote function, quality of life and the realisation of potential in people who are experiencing occupational deprivation, imbalance or alienation. They believe that activity can be an effective medium for remediating dysfunction, facilitating adaptation and recreating identity.' (College of Occupational Therapists 2009a, page 1)
This explanation of occupational therapy draws together the beliefs and values of the profession, which make up its unique approach to service users. These standards intentionally promote the profession’s occupational perspective of humans and their well-being. The language used recognises the essential role of occupation in human life and the link between mind and body; that lack of occupation can result in poor health and dysfunction, and that occupation can be used to facilitate the restoration of health and function (Kielhofner 1992, summarised by Molineux 2004, section 1.2).
A key role of the College of Occupational Therapists is to promote good and safe occupational therapy practice. It does this by providing information, guidance and advice. These standards describe a level of practice that BAOT expects its members to abide by, and believe all occupational therapists should follow. Although primarily for occupational therapy personnel working in practice settings, they are applicable, with some interpretation, to others who have an occupational therapy background but now use their skills in different areas of work, for example, in education or consultancy; also those in a generic setting or in a role with a generic title. Maintaining these standards will ensure that practitioners meet the requirements to remain registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC).
These standards are an information resource and an audit tool, which will help you develop and maintain high quality, current practice
When you audit your practice or your service against these standards, you will be demonstrating to yourself and to others the degree to which you and/or your service meet these requirements and the level of quality that you provide. The standards may also be used as an aid to discussions in the workplace, whether with your colleagues, with your line manager or those you supervise. They may also be used as a basis for dialogue and negotiation with commissioners and in other business settings. You can apply the standards to demonstrate the value and uniqueness of your professional contribution.
These standards should be read in conjunction with the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct:
Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (COT 2010a).
The information and detail of these standards, and their audit format, enables poor practice to be identified objectively
They can be used to highlight what the practitioner needs to do in order to meet both the professional and HPC requirements, perhaps as part of supervisory, disciplinary or capability procedures.
The Health Professions Council (HPC) has overall responsibility for ensuring that all relevant health professionals meet certain given standards in order to be registered to practise in the United Kingdom
If a formal complaint is made about an occupational therapist, the Health Professions Council (HPC) will take account of whether their own standards (HPC 2007, HPC 2008) have been met, and will also take account of any guidance or codes of practice produced by professional membership bodies (HPC 2008, page 15). See also the information given in section 1 Accountability.
In any civil or criminal proceedings these standards will be admissible as evidence
They may be used as a measure of reasonable and/or acceptable practice. For instance, it may be more difficult to put up a defence against allegations of negligence if these standards have not been followed. Similarly, it would be difficult to substantiate a claim of unfair dismissal before an employment tribunal if an employer could establish a persistent failure to meet these standards.
The format of these standards
These standards have been generated from a number of different sources, primarily the Health Professions Council's Standards of proficiency: occupational therapists (HPC 2007) and their Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (HPC 2008). Other standards, values and research from across the UK have also provided material. Each set of standards has a list of the key relevant source material, formatted as hyperlinks. There may be some situations in your practice that are not incorporated in these standards as they do not appear in the source material. You are advised to contact COT if you need specific advice.
Each section starts with some explanatory information, accompanied by an audit form containing the standards and criteria. Most areas will be relevant to everyone, but there are a few statements and criteria that may not be applicable to your area and/or level of practice or your locality. You can select those that are relevant to you. Your organisation or service may have other local standards that you wish to incorporate. The forms allow you to add these. The online format allows you to use and adapt the forms to your needs. At certain points lists of relevant key legislation can be accessed. Signposts and links to further College resources have been added within the text.
Throughout these standards the term ‘practitioner’ has been used to identify you as the active individual, whether you are in practice or an alternative area of work. The term 'service user' has been used for those to whom you provide intervention or a service. The work that you do for and with your service users has been termed 'care' and/or 'intervention'.