A proposal for change is under way for Occupational Therapists SMHS which has the effect of disestablishing the recently created service and changing the Occupational Therapists (OTs) into Case Managers. Submissions were due one week after the announcement and NUPE responded on Wednesday 6 April. While staff accept the need for change to respond to the earthquake, the proposal seems to be far too far reaching in its impact on OTs. There is a fear that a hidden agenda is at work here and that the current OT professional role and contribution to clinical care will be delivered for less money by a non-regulated level 3 NZQA worker (as per CREST proposal) inside an NGO provider.
NUPE propose an alternative to completely alienating OT professionals and losing much needed capabilities from Canterbury Health sector. We are proposing that the CDHB offer the opportunity to second OTs by choice to a Case management function delivered by OTs for a period of 6-12 months.
This would provide an opportunity for accurately assessing what is needed and how best to deliver it under the new Community based care model. This would also allow these OT staff who have worked very hard over the past six months taking on new learning and skills post the last change process, to feel positive not alienated about the contribution expected of them in responding to the earthquake. Any concerns about being asked to work outside of their scope of practice or having insufficient time to retain their occupational therapy specific skills by accepting a case management role could be dealt with in this seconded period.
This proposal would meet the need of CDHB to have limited resources located in area of most need but with the option for fine tuning and developing as the actual mental health needs of the Canterbury population present themselves. It also allows for an appropriate period for OTs and other professionals to develop case management skills as part of their professional capabilities.