Occupational Therapists believe that we can improve our health and wellbeing by doing activities that hold particular value to us. Occupational Therapists call this ‘being engaged in meaningful occupation’.
There are two ways Occupational Therapists use engagement in meaningful occupation to help people improve their health and wellbeing.
- By using engagement in meaningful occupation as a tool to help people to become or stay healthy and happy;
- By increasing the number of meaningful occupations a person is engaged in.
A bit more about what makes occupations meaningful
An occupation is anything you do with your time. This can mean work, but it can also mean your hobbies, your relationships, or the tasks you need to complete each day like getting out of bed or making yourself lunch.
Meaningful occupations are those occupations that hold particular value to an individual. For some people it may be particularly important to be independent in their self-care routines, for others it may be being able to socialise with friends. We are motivated most by those occupations that are meaningful to us, which means we are more likely to make progress when meaningful occupations are used as a tool – you could think of this as therapy by stealth!
At FarmAbility, co-farmers are engaged in lots of different meaningful occupations, from horse care to egg grading, gardening to socialising, farm duties to eating lunch together. Each of these occupations at FarmAbility can also be used as a tool to develop skills and confidence that can transfer to other areas of co-farmers’ lives, enabling them to progress. For example, the fine motor skills that co-farmers develop from picking up eggs and putting them on the grading machine may help when picking change out of a purse to pay for a favourite CD. Or developing the resilience and confidence to persevere when a horse is being particularly stubborn about having his hooves cleaned out may help when faced with a challenging customer in a paid job.
We have learned that combining an occupational approach with the experiential learning, practical knowledge and skills of our Programme Leaders, offers the best chance for co-farmers to progress towards independence and their personal goals.