OTARF Grants 2021

Occupational Therapy Australia Research Foundation (OTARF) grant scheme aims to generate new research knowledge relevant to occupational therapy practice; and support the research capacity and career development of Australian occupational therapists. Research output is expected as a result of completing a project that is funded by this grant scheme.

The recipients for the 2021 OTARF DGR Grant was Lorrae Mynard and Dr Miia Rahja

Lorrae Mynard - PhD Candidate (Occupational Therapy) School of Primary and Allied Health Care Monash University

Occupational therapists can struggle with linking occupational therapy theory to practice, demonstrating an occupational focus and confidently articulating their therapeutic reasoning to the client and multi-disciplinary team. There is increasing discussion both in practice and the literature about occupational formulation, a theory-based approach for synthesising assessment information about a client to describe their occupational situation. Parkinson and Brooks (2021) detailed an approach for developing occupational formulations based on the Model of Human Occupation: first conducting a comprehensive occupation focused assessment, producing concise summaries, and constructing an occupational formulation (narrative to support decision-making) that reflects the client's occupational identity (subjective viewpoint), occupational competence (objective presentation), and key occupational issues. This leads to creating long-term occupational aims and measurable goals to guide treatment. Despite its strong theoretical underpinning and encouraging subjective outcomes, this approach has not been empirically tested. 

This participatory action research study aims to evaluate the impact of implementing occupational formulation within the occupational therapy practice process. The longitudinal, mixed methods evaluation includes surveys of therapists’ professional thinking and practice processes, records of community of practice reflection sessions, reflective surveys, audits of clinical documentation and final qualitative evaluations for therapists and clients (interviews/focus groups). Baseline measures and initial training are complete, with implementation being supported by a community of practice approach and ongoing action-reflection cycles.

Dr Miia Rahja  - Research Associate - Rehabilitation, Aged and Palliative Care at Flinders University

People in residential care report that access to meaningful activities and opportunities to feel useful contribute to quality of care. About half of residents in care facilities have dementia and improving their quality of life and provision of care is a national priority.

Reablement is a collaborative approach to care that works to maintain or improve a person’s functional ability and independence in a given setting. Evidence-based reablement programs for people with dementia exist, but they are rarely provided in residential aged care facilities.

This pilot project aims to adapt, test and translate an occupational therapist-delivered evidence-based reablement program, Care Of People with dementia in their Environments (COPE) to residential aged care facilities. It is the first step towards translating and implementing an evidence-based program, shown to be effective in the community, to residential aged care in Australia. The adapted program will be tested with people with dementia and their family carers in a residential aged care facility in South Australia. Mixed methods are used to measure outcomes related to quality of life and participation for people with dementia, their carers’ wellbeing, and to explore feasibility of including these programs in routine care.

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