Occupational therapists should be involved in all stages of planning and preparation at local district and national level for disaster management as well as post-disaster.
Practitioners should be equally responsive to psychological and psychiatric conditions as they are to physical disorders. A special focus is needed on the early detection of severe psychological distress and psychiatric phenomena. Occupational therapists’ education prepares them to be a major contributor to this refocusing of attention. Intra-professional support is essential.
For vulnerable groups such as children, women and the elderly as well as individuals with previous disabilities and newly acquired conditions, meaningful occupation in daily personal and community activities can have therapeutic outcomes during disaster recovery. In all approaches to DP&R, gender roles must be sensitively addressed and strategies developed to enhance equality in opportunity and resource allocations.
WFOT notes a major task in disaster preparedness and response management for occupational therapists (and others working in health care) lies also in long term strategies in collaboration with key stakeholders. The potential benefits of the involvement of occupational therapists in disaster preparedness and response management are numerous and are related to immediate post disaster response as well as building longer term national capacity and self-reliance in disaster affected countries, and beyond.
Poster - Messages of Support Following the Chile Earthquake 2010