The Study of Occupation Practice (SOOP) module has developed connections with numerous community partners across the years. These partners work with and for people with disabilities or people who are socially disadvantaged. As future healthcare professionals it is essential that occupational therapy students learn to develop relationships with people generally and also with those who are vulnerable or in some way disadvantaged.
Students are presented with a choice of community settings (e.g. settings with children, adults or older adults; with people with physical, intellectual or mental health disabilities); once assigned to a community partner students are required to facilitate occupational engagement and performance for two hours per week across two 12 week semesters with an individual who is connected to this community partner and who has agreed to work with the student.
Examples of the facilitation of occupational engagement within this module are:
bringing and 80 year old nun, who lived in a three storey apartment and was housebound, to church;
facilitating a pool-group for homeless men who had mental health difficulties – the men played pool better than the students but would not have attended the group without the student input;
teaching an older adult living in residential care how to use Skype to keep in touch with relatives.
Facilitation of a meaningful occupation (activity that holds meaning to the person) is an essential element of the module – the nature of the actual occupation/activity is not important, but students’ understanding of occupations’ health-giving components is later assessed.