Introduction/Rationale: Occupational therapists have commonly used gardening as a form of engagement for clients with a range of disabilities including dementia, mental health and chronic disease. However, with increased workforce pressures within health services, the opportunity to use such occupation-based practices has been reduced. This paper will describe an innovative approach to developing inter-professional role-emerging student placements using a university-based community garden, and servicing multiple stakeholders. Aim: The aim of this project was to develop local placement capacity and to re-think ways of combining gardening and therapy to enhance the health and wellbeing of both individuals and the community. Approach: Occupational therapy staff collaborated with nutrition and dietetics and other disciplines within the university to develop an innovative student placement programme whereby students engaged with community based clients to address occupational needs and community integration. Practice implications: The garden has created new placements, and provided access to new health and well-being services within the local community. Students have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in a program that embraces ‘occupation’ as both a means and an end; and to develop skills that will prepare them to work in diverse future roles. Conclusion: The university garden has provided a vehicle for development of high quality, sustainable student placements in a multidisciplinary environment that provides important opportunities for students, the consumers and communities they work with.
26th Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) National Conference and Exhibition: Changes, Challenges, Choices, Melbourne, Australia 1-3 July 2015
Australian Occupational Therapy Journal / Vol. 62, Supplement 1, pp.35