The Role of Occupational Therapy in Community Development to combat social isolation and loneliness

Kate Cowen*, Tracy Collins, Susan Carr, Gemma Wilson-Menzfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background:
Social participation activities, an important area of occupation, have been effective in reducing social isolation and loneliness. However, most attendees are women, warranting the need to explore older men’s social participation needs.

Methods:
Qualitative methods, including interviews and a collaborative workshop, were used to explore the research aim. Public involvement included establishing partnerships with six staff from four community organisations and twelve older men. The project was informed by a steering committee. The steering group offered insight into all aspects of the research except analysis, which was performed thematically.

Findings:
Intergenerational engagements and the appropriate environment to establish connections with their communities were highlighted as beneficial to men. However, there is a lack of appropriate local spaces to connect communities through social participation. This suggests the need for occupational therapists to diversify their roles, moving beyond the individual and into community development.

Conclusions:
Occupational therapists’ unique and varied skill set, including the understanding of the profound impact of the environment on occupational engagement and, thus, well-being would offer valuable contributions to community development roles, including the built environment to ensure all communities have places for connection where individuals of all ages can thrive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Early online date27 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2024

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