This Occupational Therapy Week, The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) are launching a new health equity campaign #OTsForEquity.

We spoke to Trinity Occupational Therapists, Jennifer and Beatriz, on what this means to them.

What is health equity?

Jennifer: Health equity means fair opportunity to live a long, healthy life. Inequities in health are unjust and are caused by unfair social, economic and political arrangements. They are not inevitable or necessary.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the increase in health inequalities across the UK. Health inequalities are systematic differences in health between different groups of people, that is, healthcare being unequally distributed between people and communities.

Beatriz: In theory, everyone in the UK has the same access to healthcare, in reality the causes of ill health are very different depending on where someone lives, their socio-economic class and their ethnicity. The pandemic has highlighted how poverty, deprivation, employment and housing are closely related to health and mortality. The recovery from the pandemic is an opportunity to create a healthier, more resilient society, working towards health equity and a fairer distribution of health. Occupational Therapists have a duty and the skills to play a key role in making this happen.

Why OT?

Jennifer: As a profession, Occupational Therapists are on the frontline of health equity and are uniquely placed to understand and tackle the challenges people face. Occupational Therapists see health inequalities every day, supporting and helping those most in need.

Occupational Therapists have a unique set of skills and are already ingrained in the work in the three key routes out of poverty: education, housing and jobs. Through working in these areas we can tackle the cause of health inequality, rather than the symptoms.

Beatriz: The solution needs to be centred on each person. Occupational Therapists’ holistic approach provides all-round personalised care. We don’t just look at physical health but at environmental, cultural, and social factors. These include working practices, leisure, and home adaptations. Underpinning occupational therapy practice is the belief that the better a person’s ability to carry out their occupations and what they enjoy doing in daily life, the happier and healthier they are.

Read the RCOT’s health equity report

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