Claudiana - Landesfachhochschule für Gesundheitsberufe Occupational Therapy - What does it offer today and what will it offer in the future?
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Occup. therapy: definition/ description
The clients of occupational therapy
The core work of occupational therapy
The core competencies of the therapist
What occupational therapy can offer
Project Organisation

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» A.I.T.O.
Associazione Italiana per Terapisti occupazionale

Deutscher Verband der Ergotherapeuten e.V.

» Ergotherapie Austria
Bundesverband der ErgotherapeutInnen Österreichs

ErgotherapeutInnen-Verband Schweiz Association Suisse des Ergoterapeutes Associazione Svizzera degli Ergoterapisti

Occupational therapy across all the German-speaking countries is faced with similar challenges in the context of policies relating to health care and to the vocation itself. Professionals in this field are very much feeling the effects of the economic and structural changes taking place in the health and social care systems: financial resources becoming ever scarcer, the shift towards community-based practice, demographic developments such as the growing proportion of elderly people among the population and the foreseeable increase in the time spent in working life, the rise in chronic illnesses as well as the growing numbers of migrants are all placing new demands on society. Health promotion and primary prevention are inescapably gaining ever more in importance, including in occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy work in the German-speaking area has so far focussed on acute treatment/rehabilitation, and on secondary and tertiary prevention. Occupational therapy also has the relevant knowledge and skills however, to play a significant role in health promotion and primary prevention.

Including health promotion and primary prevention in what occupational therapy has to offer will benefit not only the people needing help, but the health and social care systems too. Services to provide occupational therapy ought therefore to be set up in the health promotion and primary prevention sectors of the German-speaking countries and should become an integral part of their health and social systems.

The professional associations of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and representatives from South Tyrol set up a cross-border scheme of cooperation in 2004 which has seen them exploring the potential for development of what occupational therapy can offer. In order to provide a professional and forward-looking response to the societal changes and the shape of things to come, they initiated a joint project designed to further develop occupational therapy in the German-speaking countries.

The so-called "DACHS Project" was launched in December 2005 under the title "Occupational Therapy 2010 - further development of the profession and of training in the field of occupational therapy, particularly regarding health promotion and prevention in view of the labour market and employability". It was funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), with the project applicant being "Claudiana", the Provincial College for Health-Care Professions in Bolzano. "DACHS" is the acronym used for the whole project and is formed from the names of the regions involved: Deutschland (Germany), Austria, Schweiz (Switzerland) and Südtirol (South Tyrol).

This booklet is the core of the entire project. It provides an up-to-date and forward-looking overview of what occupational therapy has to offer in the German-speaking area - core work, core competencies, and current moves and advances, such as future-oriented help and treatment structured according to target groups.

This overview is designed to give policy-makers, service providers in the health and social care sectors, those responsible for teaching and training, and occupational therapists themselves, an understanding of the diversity and the potential of the profession. It also sets out the future prospects for occupational therapy with regard to the important contribution it can make in health promotion and primary prevention.

This booklet brings to fruition one step of a vision to see a truly achievable, extended range of help and treatment.

In addition to the German original, there is also this English translation of the booklet and an Italian translation as well, so that the debate on the further development of the job profile can be encouraged in other countries too.

As women make up the majority of the people belonging to the profession, this text uses 'she' throughout when referring to occupational therapists. Otherwise, both the masculine and the feminine form may be used for other health professionals and clients.