This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “Benefits & myths of employing OTs with seen & unseen impairments” and will be hosted by Lynsey McClean (@LynseyMcc_OT).
The views and perspectives of colleagues have a significant impact on occupational therapists with impairments and disabilities, particularly in relation to job satisfaction and success. As occupational therapists work with clients with impairments and disabilities it would be presumed that they would have positive attitudes towards fellow employees with impairments and disabilities. However, previous research has highlighted that this is not always the case, with reports of bullying, discrimination and negative or unsupportive attitudes, which can negatively impact upon occupational therapists, and other health care professionals (HCPs) with disabilities’ self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth (Velde, 2000; Bevan, 2014; Chacala et al., 2014).
Other studies have explored what staff perceive to be as issues with employing a person with an impairment or disability an as an occupational therapist or other HCP (Grainger, 2008; Aaberg, 2010; Wood and Marshall, 2010; Hibberd, 2011; Hargreaves et al., 2014).
Nonetheless, studies on managers of HCPs and qualitative studies which explored the experiences of occupational therapists and HCPs with impairments and disabilities have all challenged these assumptions and highlighted numerous unique benefits they offer (llingworth, 2005; Hernandez et al., 2008; Wood and Marshall, 2010; Neal-Boylan, 2012).
Some questions to consider…
- What do you think the potential benefits are of employing someone with an impairment or disability as an occupational therapist?
- Do you think there are potential issues of employing someone with an impairment or disability as an occupational therapist? If so what are they?
- Why do you think someone might not disclose their impairment or disability at work?
- How can you (or we) positively challenge and change colleagues’ negative attitudes towards fellow employees with an impairment or disability?
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