Importance of Meaningful Activities in the Road to Recovery

Within this month’s blog I would like to discuss the importance of meaningful activities in service users’ road to recovery both in physical and mental health services.

Through my experience in working within a vocational rehabilitation centre with adults with physical and mental health problems, it has opened my eyes into the importance of intervention being meaningful and appropriate to service users’ needs.  As Occupational Therapists, we are well trained in analysing activities and adapting activities/ tasks as required to meet individuals’ needs.  However do we always take into consideration what interests our service users have and if they are interested in the topic of activity within their intervention or do we carry out tasks within our intervention as this is the tasks previously carried out?

When service users have an interest and meaning behind doing an activity or task they appear more motivated in participating and they will put the time and effort into successfully completing the activity or task. Individuals with physical health problems tend to be more motivated within intervention than individuals with mental health problems.  However for adults with mental health problems, to engage them in successful intervention, meaningful activities are required in order to increase participation.

An example of this being within a medical ward and before discharge, an occupational therapy assessment is completed.  A kitchen assessment is generally completed to identify whether the service user is safe within the kitchen environment.  An example of a task the service user may be required to complete is to make a hot drink successfully.  The occupational therapist would be observing and assessing the service user in completing the task, identifying whether they are safe using electrical equipment and boiling water, observing the sequence used to complete the task and if the correct equipment, utensils and products are used.  For many individuals, this is a ‘basic’ and ‘normal’ task however if this is not a meaningful task to an individual, or if they do not regularly make a hot drink, is this an appropriate method of assessment?  Within the older generation, it was generally the females who worked within the kitchen environment while the males worked outside of the home environment.  Is this a meaningful activity for an elderly male to complete if he was never within a kitchen environment?   Is this a meaningful task?

Within the above example, various other assessments could be completed to identify safety and security for a service user returning home.  This is where it is important to gain good insight into service users normal routines and interests to gear their intervention around their interests and abilities.  As Occupational Therapists, we adopt a holistic and client centred approach to try and get a complete and accurate observation of a service users abilities and interests.

Do you feel your intervention is client centred and geared towards meaningful activities to aid the road to recovery for you service users? How do you adapt your intervention to ensure tasks are meaningful? Or are we struggling with time due to increasing workloads, which then influences our practice and ability to be fully client-centred?

I would like to hear from you experiences and how you meet the increasing demands of managing caseloads, adapting intervention to be client centred.

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