The Lives of #BAME OTs in 2020 explored via CMOP-E – Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement

I was invited by @LecturerMish to follow @DLafayette411‘s example and conceptualise BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic – UK Term) lives through an OT Model. Now being unable to stick to one tweet and not go overboard I’ve written this.

CMOP-E – Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement

This model describes the relationship and influences between these elements (Spirituality, Person, Occupation and Environment) which enables occupational performance. That is the ability of a person to perform occupations and daily engagements.

Analysis

Spirituality

Entered the profession to make a difference. Core identity as a member of a BAME community, family and the OT Profession. May feel incongruity with core values and beliefs and current situation.

Person

Cognitive – Mind can’t switch off, memories of past injustice mix with current situation. Need space to process. Emotional reasoning does not equal illogical reasoning.

Physical – Added concern about the increased physical health risk of covid to BAME populations. Bombarded by sensory images of racism.

Affective – Tired and worn down, frustrated and angry, upset by being asked to relive past trauma. May also be energised by the momentum for change. Additional anxiety created by pandemic.

Occupation

Self-Care – Possibly neglected or may not be being prioritised. Need to focus on mental health and safety.

Leisure – I would imagine fairly limited especially in terms of enjoyment. Constantly engaging in debate, reading news/social media. Favoured occupations may be sidelined.

Productivity – If still working the form of this will have changed placing extra demands on the person to work in different ways. Engagement in activism as a productive co-occupation.

Environment

Physical – Lockdown has removed access to certain parts of society where people may have sought support. May feel like there is no sanctuary as home has become where everything takes place.

Institutional (includes Economic, Legal, Political) Possibly feeling unheard by professional and regulatory bodies and workplaces. Wanting to affect change but having little power to do so within current structure. Finance may be difficult at the current time meaning less able to act on needs. Political environment is a mess compounded by Brexit – feels unsupportive. People also appear to be conflating politics with human rights. #BLM movement driving impetus for change.

Cultural – Conflicting cultures. Family, ethnicity, professional. May struggle with the professional or overarching British cultural attitude of stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on. Focus is on connecting more to culture around ethnicity at present – that’s where attention is needed. Family may or may not support this depending on familial make-up – do family members share BAME backgrounds and understand concern?

Social – Usual support groups not as accessible, experiencing tone policing online from those who aren’t used to discussing racism. Seeking social support from allies to take on some of the load. Co-workers may not ‘get it’ especially where you are the lone OT from a BAME background.

In this model the environment is recognised as an underused resource and one that we need to capitalise on.

Not included in the model but I’d add in the Historical environment here too. This isn’t about what has just happened. It’s about all the things that have come before, all the personal microagressions, all the injustices. They aren’t blaming others for the past environment but it still impacts massively on the present and needs acknowledgement (and yes even if you/they weren’t alive when it all happened).

Synthesis and action

Spirituality

Reaffirm core belief of self and validation of the person as a their member of their BAME heritage. Help articulation of goals and desires for this period.

Person

Support strategies to manage stress and switch off. Prioritise sleep, nutrition etc. Person needs to be healthy to be most effective. Examine reasoning and explore thoughts and feelings. Risk assessment re physical well-being in workplaces. Recognise that everyone is individual. Some BAME OTs may not want to/feel able to engage at the moment and that is their right.

Occupation

Refocus on self care and restorative leisure occupations. Recognise that energy will need to be spent differently during this time though. Respect that activism is a valid occupation – explore different forms of activism. Possibly reduce demands of some occupational areas to compensate at this time, eg. Housework. That’s always the first thing to go with me at least!

Environment

Locate a safe space, a place or time where can just be themselves.

Find a social support network of like minded individuals to bounce ideas off and share the load. Include white allies to support this.

Challenge structural and institutional inequalities and demand change. Allies need to do this too. Professional body/workplace could take more responsibility for leading change allowing BAME OTs to contribute as able without feeling burdened.

As a white OT I have aimed to use the model to empathise with the lived experience of my BAME colleagues. Any mistakes are entirely my own. Do feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with anything I’ve written. I will listen.