Two knowledge speakers presented their research projects relating to occupation for older people.
First up, Corinne Hutt “The lived experience of engagement in occupations by older people”. A fascinating exploration of the role of occupation for those experiencing bereavement. Very much an under researched area but an issue facing many of our service users. Corinne spoke sensitively and insightfully about her research findings, that grief led her participants to “retreat to the familiar”, “take stock” and then “take themselves forward”. It was fascinating to consider the role of occupation within this, in particular applying the “continuing bonds” model (Klass, 1996). Corinne highlighted that people who go through an expected bereavement need to revise their occupational repertoire and how this takes time.
What resonated for me was Corinne’s notion of death changing relationships with the deceased, not ending them and that is my personal view too. Also the need for the bereaved to talk to people in their day to day life, so often the bereaved can be excluded due to the awkwardness of others, surely it’s time this stopped. Death and loss often remain taboos in British culture, but such common experiences need to be discussed and no-one should be excluded due to a bereavement.
Corinne talked about applying her work to other areas of loss and different types of bereavement, I think that would be great. For occupational therapists to lead the way in thinking about the role of occupation in bereavement as a healing factor, would be great. In discussing this talk with my colleague @natlouj we felt occupational therapists would have a lot to offer the recently bereaved in primary care services to prevent occupational revision becoming occupational deprivation.
Next up, Sam Whiting “Social groups – exploring occupational engagement in men”. Sam focussed her research on the impact of ageing on participation in occupation in men, very much an under researched population in comparison to older women. Sam’s focus groups led to her findings that for men, social groups related to “the four walls – combatting loneliness and social isolation”, “social interactions – the importance of camaraderie”, “reminiscence and the yesteryears” and “productivity”. Sam described how older men face so many barriers to occupational engagement, including shyness from joining groups but that they reported occupation as a powerful way to combat loneliness.
By Laura Di Bona @SheffOTCA