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Marketing occupational therapy in a changing Australian community health sector


Delegates to Occupational Therapy Australia’s (OTA) National OT Aged Care Symposium have been told of the challenges associated with effectively marketing the work of occupational therapists.

Occupational therapist and lead author of the research Jennifer Culph said health consumers now have greater control over their funding, making it more important for occupational therapists to be able to market their services.

“The Australian community health sector is experiencing significant change, particularly with the move to Consumer Directed Care and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),” Ms Culph said.

“These reforms reflect the need for therapists to provide clear information to consumers about how occupational therapy can benefit them. This is especially important for occupational therapists working with people with dementia, as it is an area where the role of occupational therapy is not well understood”, she said.

As part of the study, qualitative data from 25 in-depth interviews was collected from occupational therapists and their managers. Stratified purposeful sampling was conducted to include different organisational contexts: government, non-government and private. Data analysis and coding is being conducted using the constructivist grounded theory approach.

“Our findings illustrate five themes: marketing verses selling, uncertainty about a new part of the occupational therapist role, fit with personal and organisational values, confidence in marketing skills, and support and training to increase these skills,” Ms Culph said.

“An increased focus on consumer choice and control has created a highly competitive marketplace where effective promotion is critical.

“We hope that these findings contribute to recommendations and strategies for future support and training for occupational therapists to better market their interventions,” Ms Culph said.

The research comes from the Care Of People with dementia in their Environments (COPE) project, funded by the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre. COPE is the implementation of a community reablement program for people with dementia and their carers. More information about the COPE program and future training for occupational therapists can be found at copeprogram.com.au.

More than 200 delegates have gathered at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre to discuss the work they do to enrich the lives of older Australians. Under the slogan “Respect, Relate, Renew”, the symposium offers delegates the opportunity to share evidence based information and to consider the changing aged care landscape, particularly the introduction of Consumer Directed Care and new service delivery models.

The symposium runs from 22 to 23 February.

Media Contact
Michael Barrett | Government, Media and Public Relations
0403 795 505

About Occupational Therapy Australia
Occupational Therapy Australia is the national professional association representing occupational therapy in Australia. We offer opportunities for our members to enhance best practice through professional development, support, and access to profession-specific information.

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