The pandemic's impact on the Association and its members
The COVID-19 pandemic breakout came to Sweden in February which impacted the health care system very quickly. Since Occupational Therapists in Sweden are employed in all levels of care, all members have a changed work situation, but with great variation depending on work setting and where in the country they are located. Occupational Therapists were early on engaged in the acute care of patients with COVID – 19 but other changes that occurred impacted evaluations, home visits etc which were cancelled or postponed.
The corona pandemic has led to shortcomings in elderly care and community health care have been made more visible with more focus on rehabilitation issues. Likewise, political sensitivity to issues related to rehabilitation and municipal health care has been raised. The association has by November, published more than 20 debate articles related to the pandemic and its consequences.
In other actions of note, Ida Kåhlin, President of the Swedish Association of Occupational Therapists, participated in Swedish Radio providing advice for a functioning “corona everyday life” and in several podcast related to the pandemic. Also, the president had individual meetings with the Minister of Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren and several politicians in the Social Affairs Committee. Collaboration with patient- / user organizations and other professional associations (mostly with The Swedish Association of Physiotherapists) has also taken place. Many members of the Association around the country have been seen and heard on radio and television due to corona rehabilitation.
The Association's work - Union related issues
Initially, there was a lot of concern regarding changes in work situation and work safety which increased the need for union counselling. In order to meet this need, the association added information to the website about new issues/questions, especially work obligations and holiday accommodation. We sent out more frequent union related information to members, provided extra support to the local branches and signed agreement on short-term layoffs.
Today, elected representatives are also provided with support through webinars and online courses outside of the general union counselling.
The Association's work - Professional issues
In order to support Occupational Therapist in Sweden, the Association has collect material related to the profession on our website, offered weekly exchanges of experience (via Teams) for Occupational Therapists "active in regional development and university hospitals" and an open webinar on the theme "Occupational Therapy and COVID-19", on 10th of June. Profession related information is sent out more frequent to members as well as through more active use of social media. The member magazine “Arbetsterapeuten” has dedicated two editions as on COVID -19.
- We have produced the article “Seven advice for a functioning “corona everyday life” in cooperation with the Danish and Norwegian Associations of Occupational Therapists and the statement "The occupational therapist - a resource in the acute stage of the corona pandemic".
- We offer more spots on our online courses (continuous intake) and offer distance courses instead of physical courses.
- We have contributed to the National Board of Health and Welfare's knowledge support for rehabilitation which was published in May and now under revision.
- We have sent out a questionnaire to people that are responsible for rehabilitation focusing on how corona effects rehabilitations in the municipalities (in collaboration with PTs).
- We have produced two information handouts (see below) that are directed towards people experiencing fatigue after COVID-19. The handouts are a translated and edited document produced by the British Association of Occupational Therapists.
- In November, two new writings were launched (see below). The aim of the writings is to clarify the occupational therapist's competence and why occupational therapy is important in rehabilitation in connection with COVID-19 and are meant to be used as a tool for the occupational therapists in dialogue with employers, other professions and for their own work.