D&I is the origin and core of occupational therapy
In recent years, D&I (Diversity & Inclusion) has been gaining attention in various industries, and its importance is being emphasized. “Diversity & Inclusion” refers to the concept of recognizing and embracing diversity, and while there are some slight differences among industries, this is a common thread. D&I-based education, research, and clinical practice are also being conducted in occupational therapy, and these efforts date back more than 100 years. The history of occupational therapy goes back to the United States in the 1920s, and the people involved in its creation were a diverse group of professionals that included architects, social workers, and nurses. In other words, diversity and inclusion were at the core of occupational therapy at the time of its creation.
Today, occupational therapists believe that people can become healthy through occupation, and they provide support for people to do the occupation (activities) they want to do in their daily lives. Even if the support is for something such as “using trains”, the trains are used differently depending on the people, the environment, and various combinations of the two, and the exact same type of support cannot be applied to all of them. To put it another way, an occupational therapist cannot provide support for a person’s work (activity) unless they understand D&I. This is the reason why D&I is the origin and core of occupational therapy.
The challenge of enhancing lifestyle support services in long-term care prevention
In my laboratory, we are trying to figure out what is needed to enhance lifestyle support services in long-term care prevention. Currently, lifestyle support services are available as a part of long-term care prevention efforts. These services provide support to elderly people who are finding it difficult to maintain their everyday lifestyles, through the cooperation of multiple professions, so that they can continue to maintain their lifestyles for a long time to come.
By looking at clinical research in Arakawa City, Tokyo, we are examining how occupational therapists can focus on people's work (activities) and what kind of support strategies they should use. Past research has indicated that even a very short period of involvement by occupational therapists can improve lifestyle issues for the elderly, and we are currently expanding the scope of our research. On the other hand, it is also true that there are still many unanswered questions, such as whether lifestyle support services contribute to extending healthy life expectancy, and what the optimal algorithm with other long-term care prevention services is. Moving forward, we will need to become more flexible than ever in our approach to D&I and incorporate the latest AI technologies.
Department of Occupational Therapy, Graduate School of Human Health Sciences
Completed doctoral program at the Graduate School of Human Health Sciences, Tokyo Metropolitan University. PhD (Occupational Therapy). In current role since 2016.