The WFOT Focus day was held at Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago. Focus day is more informal than the Council meeting and provides an opportunity for member countries to contribute to the direction of WFOT in the future and share ideas to change priorities into actions.
The University is supporting WFOT by providing a venue for our Focus day and Council meeting. Buses collected delegates from hotels and brought us out to the Campus. The views of the mountains from the campus are spectacular. It is a very picturesque setting and a lovely campus. The Focus day was held in a large auditorium but as the weather was so lovley we did our group work outside. For small group work we were divided into 4 groups by continent; so I am part of the European member associations group.
We started with introductions from the WFOT Executive Management Team and with a few presentations. This included a presentation of the results of the Human Resources project which has been led by Ritchard Ledyard a Program Co-ordinator on the Exacutive Management Team - Ritchard had had his flights to Santiago cancelled twice owing to the volcanic ash clouds so he wasnt able to join us in the mroning to present his results and finally made it to the university at lunchtime. All the members of the Executive Management Team have now made it to Santiago, but the EMT meeting had to be conducted via Skype all last week. The Human Resources project is a very important peice of work which collates data from member associations including numbers of occupational therapists in each country, which countries have a registration system for occupationa therapists (i.e. in the UK we have to be registered with the Health Professions Council), the number of education programmes and of these which education programmes are WFOT approved, how many occupational therapy students are currently training in each country, and where there are shortages in occupational therapists in different fields of practice.
In our first group discussion in the morning we shared current trends and issues from our countries and how these are impacting and may infleunce and impact occupational therapy services and practice. There were a lot of common themes shared within the Europe group. The needs of an increasing ageing population and a drive towards more health prevention and promotion focus within health service were common themes. The need for occupational therapists to make clear business cases for services and be able to cost our services and articulate the evidence on which they are based also was highlighted. We heard about changing health care systems in a number of countries and how these are impacting on occupational therapy. In some cases this has led to more recognition of the value of occupational and we heard of a few countries where new education programmes are being set up and more occupational therapists trained - which was very encouraging.
In the afternoon we reviewed the current WFOT mission, vision, objectives and priorties in light of our earlier discussion on trends and issues and started the process of considering what the next WFOT strategy (from 2012) should contain.
It was a very interesting and stimulating day and provided an opportunity for me to be introduced to a lot of the delegates from other countries and, in particular to start to get to know other delegates from Europe.