Introduction to Occupation-Based Community Development
Occupational therapy practice in community settings is not new. However, guidelines for such practice is evolving and should be articulated in order to promote its growth and facilitate its application. ObCD is a value-based form of occupational therapy practice with communities where doing is both the means and ends of actions that are aimed at bringing about changes in human connection and occupational engagement. ObCD involves long-term discursive processes where discourses and practices in and of everyday life are challenged. In the processes of facilitating ObCD, existing power relationships, structural inequalities, and entrenched mindsets are challenged. The ends are focused on actualizing more liberated forms of occupational engagement. Occupational therapists work as equal partners with community members. Particular emphasis is given to the occupations of marginalized or excluded groups in terms of what people do, what they want to do and what they could do in and with their lives. This practice is informed by an appreciation of how power and resources operate in particular contexts with and draws on the institutional impacts across service and policy sectors. Within this framework of occupation based community development practice, the definition of community adopted is that community refers to groups of people who share binding social bonds based on their histories, interests, locality, values or occupations. In keeping with community development (Ife, 2002), O-b CD involves:
- building peoples’ capabilities while challenging disadvantage
- increasing the power of structurally disadvantaged groups over their choices, chances, resources and institutions
- using policy and planning, social and political action and education
- the belief that the community should have their needs and rights met and that they should be involved in defining their needs
- eradicating occupational injustices and promoting human rights.