Occupational therapy is a person-centred profession that utilizes human potential to enable and empower people who are impaired or at risk of impairment, to be able to engage in the occupations of daily life. Occupations are defined as everyday activities that people engage in to look after themselves, to enjoy life and to contribute to the social and economic structure of their communities. Occupational Therapists work collaboratively with people to enable them to participate in the occupations that give meaning and purpose to their lives.
Occupational therapy uses human occupation as a modality to promote health and well-being and to address problems that may arise as a result of illness, physical or psychological impairment and disability or adverse social conditions and which may negatively impact on a person’s ability to function independently. Occupational Therapists work with adults and children who experience developmental, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities or those at risk of developing these types of disabilities. The Discipline of Occupational therapy offers a four year undergraduate programme and post graduate degree programme. The educators have areas of specialization ( some are NRF rated and all staff having post graduate degrees ) related to the different areas of occupational therapy and their research focus areas.
The Occupational Therapy programme at UKZN has been endorsed by the World Federation Occupational Therapy (WFOT) and by the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA).
On completion of the undergraduate Occupational Therapy course, each student would have an understanding of the importance of human occupation in a person’s physical and mental development, functioning, personality to be able to understand the link between occupation and wellness/illness. Students will gain an understanding of the value of goal-directed activity and the unique contribution with Occupational Therapy makes to the total care of clients from diverse cultures and contexts in South Africa and the need for various levels of care required to meet the health and wellbeing requirements for a multi-faceted population.
The student would have an understanding of The Primary Health Care Approach, as well understanding how to promote social justice through facilitating clients’ engagement occupation and delivering and occupation-based community practice. Finally from a research perspective, the student should be able to seek and to provide scientific solutions to problems and challenges faced by our most vulnerable communities and respond to the socioeconomic and social determinants of health to positively influence health and wellness outcomes.
Our Masters programme consists of either a structured coursework and mini-thesis or full research, and our PhD programme consists of a full thesis.
The research focus on a wide variety of areas such as primary health care, community based research, peadiatrics, mental health and educational based research. The research aims to socially relevant and effect positive change in our South African context.