Occupational therapy in the recovery stage following a natural disaster

Michael Curtin, Tracey Parnell, Billie Newton, Alison Walker

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction/Rationale: The World Federation recommends occupational therapists be involved in all stages of disaster management. During the recovery stage, international guidelines endorse three categories of interventions to mitigate the long-term impact on health and wellbeing: (1) universal, (2) targeted, and (3) treatment.

Objective: The evaluation of Royal Far West (RFW) Bushfire Recovery Program (BRP) will be used to illustrate approaches occupational therapists use within each intervention category during the recovery stage of disaster management to support and facilitate occupational participation.

Method/Approach: To reduce the impact of natural disasters on children the RFW BRP was implemented at multiple preschools/schools impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires. As members of the multidisciplinary team, occupational therapists ran psychosocial children's groups, parent/teacher workshops, and telecare sessions for children.

Results/Practice Implications: The psychosocial groups (universal) enabled children to develop coping strategies to facilitate engagement in day-to-day activities. Parent/teacher workshops (universal/targeted) provided adults with strategies to support children. The occupational therapy telecare sessions (targeted/treatment) assisted children to develop strategies to manage identified occupational issues.

Conclusion: With a focus on occupational participation when delivering psychosocial groups, workshops for parents/teachers, and telecare sessions, occupational therapists assisted children to explore and participate in their daily activities and reduce the likelihood of long-term impact from the disaster. As natural disasters are predicted to increase in both frequency and intensity, occupational therapists' focus on engagement in meaningful routines and occupations during the recovery stage will contribute to decreasing the likelihood of long-term adverse impacts on health and wellbeing in response to these events.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023
EventOccupational Therapy Australia 30th National Conference and Exhibition 2023 - Cairns Convention Centre, Cairns, Australia
Duration: 21 Jun 202323 Jun 2023
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/14401630/2023/70/S1 (Proceedings)


ConferenceOccupational Therapy Australia 30th National Conference and Exhibition 2023
Abbreviated titleIgnite your passion
OtherOTA was excited to welcome delegates to Cairns Convention Centre for our 30th National Conference & Exhibition (OTAUS2023) on 21 - 23 June. The conference represents the pinnacle of Australian OT excellence, showcasing opportunities, innovations and strategies informed through research and practice that can shape future practices, policies and educational approaches to facilitate the growth of occupational wellbeing worldwide.
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