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.



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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.

An OT CPD Activity A Day – Preorder Your Creative CPD Journal Now

An OT CPD Activity A Day by Kirsty Stanley is a Creative CPD Journal for occupational therapists to use to: re-invigorate their Continuing Professional Development, try a range of creative methods of reflection, reconnect with the philosophy of our wonderful profession, imagine its future, and to explore their own occupational wellbeing.

The 366 activities included are not dated so they can be completed in any order, and started on any day of any year. If you do join me in using the journal in 2021 share your activities with everyone on social media using #OTCPD21.

From clinical reasoning to your favourite occupation, anti-racist practice to risk management, reflective art and poetry to basket weaving. There will be something in here to spark new insights in even the most experienced of OTs. You can see some example pages here:

Cover Image

Kirsty Stanley, via Occupation4Life Ltd, will be writing and designing this journal which will be shipped worldwide in December 2020. Books will be square coil bound 210x210cm with matte cover. Pages will be mostly black and white with some colour inserts.

The journal is priced at £20 (£25 inc UK P&P, £35 inc International P&P). Use my Paypal me link to pay the relevant amount. Accessible e-book version can also be made available for those who need it in a non printed format. Email me for details.

Preorders will close on 20th November 2020 after which you will be sent an email asking you to confirm your shipping address. I cannot guarantee a reprint or stock after this date. It will depend entirely on demand.

For combined shipping on multiple orders for teams contact me via for a quote. I’m based in Dorset so can deliver within the county for free.

Image of example pages
Example Pages

We Are OT

We Are OT Image

We Are OT

A brief history and personal accounts of diversity in the profession of Occupational Therapy within the UK (extended to include worldwide narratives).

An ebook commissioned and edited by Occ4Life Ltd exploring the experience of BAME, Disabled, LGBTQIA+ and Male OTs within training and work as OTs within the U.K. and elsewhere.

Send your interest in developing a personal account of training and working within the OT profession to

These can be in prose, poetry, fictionalised, comic, video or audio form and I am happy to work with you on editing a piece. With an ebook we can be interactive and cover different mediums of expression.

We are interested not only in your more challenging experiences but in also knowing about how your diversity has added strength to services and helped improve the service to your clients.

Contributing authors will not receive payment but will retain rights to their work for inclusion elsewhere if desired. Ebook will be sold for a fee with all profits going to setting up a small 2021 scholarship fund for Black student/s training in Britain (as this book has been particularly inspired by the #BlackLivesMatters movement) towards education and training. I will be taking no payment for my contribution as editor or contributor.

Deadline for expressions of interest are 30th September 2020 with initial pieces to be submitted and edited by the end of the first week of October 2020 (final deadlines). I will work with contributors on identifying an appropriate timeline for initial submission, editing feedback and amendments but final submission can be no later than 20th October 2020.

The ebook will launch and be available for purchase starting on #WorldOTDay on 27th October 2020 with additional promotion in U.K. OT Week in November.

Scholarship application process will open in January 2021 to support training from September 2021. Further details on the scholarship application process to follow.

How are you coping with lockdown?

How are you coping with lockdown?

Here are some things you might be thinking…

Why are some people managing better than me?

I thought I’d be happy with all this time on my hands?

I’ve got no excuses not to do x (that I’ve always wanted to do)… so why aren’t I?

I really miss x (random activity that you thought you didn’t like).

I’m feeling really tired!

I hope this is over soon, I can’t imagine what I’d do for 12 weeks!

I don’t know who I am now I’m not at work.

If this sounds like you then What Now?: Adapting to a New Life might be the group for you.

Did you know that – What we do makes us who we are!

During this time you can use this group in a number of ways.

▪️To take one activity that you miss, or are participating in in a different way, and explore the meaning it gives you by working through the group’s units.

▪️To then think about alternative activities that might give you a similar sense of meaning and that you can do whilst in lockdown.

▪️To learn to adapt to a new or different way of life.

▪️To more generally think about activities that are, or have been important to you, why they are important and the effect they have on you.

The group content is based on a workbook, called the “What Now?’ workbook developed by two occupational therapists.

©2012 Jackie Taylor & Vivienne Jones

Adapted into this online version 2020 by Jackie Taylor and Kirsty Stanley (also posted on my personal blog).

#TimetoTalk – Occupation Gives you Wings, Occupational Therapists can help you fly with them!

#TimetoTalk Logo - 2 birds by water bath

This year February 6th 2020 is #TimetoTalk day where we remind everyone that it’s ok to talk about Mental Health challenges, and appreciate that mental health is just as important as, and often intrinsically linked to, physical health.

On my personal blog I have spoken about this before but I think it’s also important to recognise that professionals can have challenges with their mental health too. And that you can work successfully with chronic mental health problems.

For one, I think my personal experience with depression certainly helps me empathise with others who are experiencing depressive symptoms linked to life issues, bereavement, a change in health, a new diagnosis or simply just because that’s how you feel.

For me, the main thing that keeps me going through these periods is maintaining my engagement in occupations (or activities) that are meaningful to me. But sometimes we can struggle to do this. That’s where an occupational therapist can come in. Sadly though thresholds for seeing occupational therapists within mental health services are quite high and often medication and talking therapies are the first port of call for people. Now, I have personally benefitted from both of these but I did feel that a slightly more practical approach in combination would have been helpful, and I did struggle to do this for myself even though I knew all the theory.

But these are the things that kept me going through my most recent period of depression.

1. Number one will come as no surprise if you know me. It was books and reading. But, during this last period of depression, I did find my concentration more limited and so I made more use of audiobooks than I ever had before. Adapting occupations, finding different ways to do them or switching to alternative occupations that give you the same experience is something an occupational therapist can help you do.

2. Number two was a completely new occupation to me. Part of my depression linked to my experience with fertility problems and I was mourning the loss of a mothering role. So I decided to foster (then adopt) two jack chis. Now whilst they aren’t a substitute for having children they definitely helped my recovery and in part filled that role. Prior to their arrival there were days that I spent entirely in bed. The dogs didn’t let me do that, and I’ve got the most exercise I have in a long taking them for regular walks. Occupational Therapists can help you fit new occupations into your daily routine, and even help with developing the skills to take on a new occupation in the first place.

Image of my two JackChis

3. Number three was activities with friends. Getting out of the house, socialising, talking to others about their lives, grabbing a coffee, seeing a musical, whatever it is you normally would do together.

It’s this last one that I want to talk about most today. The fact that, had I been seen off work doing some of these things that people would have felt I was “skiving”. And this is exactly why people struggle. Previously I would have cancelled all my plans outside of the house, and I would have felt worse for it. I needed to keep doing what I could do, without judgement. People didn’t see the behind the scenes, hours of crying, being unable to get dressed for days on end, barely eating. Having a trip booked was the thing that made me do these things. Being able to share these things on social media as I usually would (another meaningful occupation for me) were vital to living authentically.

And here is where I hope occupational therapists can have the most impact. Societally. By highlighting the importance of occupational engagement and balance to health and wellbeing. By helping employers and employees negotiate reasonable adjustments and phased returns to work that include time for exercise, socialising etc. To, like other countries, seriously consider a shortened working week, that has been shown to increase productivity and happiness. For it not to be seen as you are well enough for all of work or not well enough for any of it. The government want us to believe this is their goal to but the structures and cultures in workplaces are still not there to support it.

For me the decision to go independent was driven by the need for this flexibility. By understanding that early mornings are not the best time to get the best work out of me. I’m sure the independent route will come with its own challenges but hopefully understanding what I need and putting it in place won’t be one of them.

I am wary that I have focused on depression in this post, because that is my personal experience, but the same applies to people who experience anxiety, bipolar, personality disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders etc etc. We all need to live life to live life.

Check out these particular pages for services that I offer that I think are relevant to this post.

AHP Health and Work Report

Disability Awareness Training/Accessibility Assessment

Living Life With…

Wellbeing & Occupational Balance Coaching

Work Smarter

Remember Occupation gives you wings and occupational therapists are the ones who can help you fly with them!

Welcome to Occupation4Life Ltd – Independent Occupational Therapy and Writing Services with Kirsty Stanley

Occupation4Life Logo

Monday 3rd February 2020 sees me embark on a new business venture as a self-employed Independent occupational therapist and writer. I am combining passions and seeking to give myself variety and flexibility in my working life.

My name is Kirsty Stanley. I am an occupational therapist with over 20 years experience. I am a writer and voracious reader. I also have a number of health conditions that I believe give me the empathy to work in a more client-centred way.

To find out more about my ethos and the services I can provide please explore the menu links and don’t hesitate to contact me with your queries. I am based in Dorset so some services will be restricted by area although I am happy to consider travel or online or telephone consultations where appropriate – these may only be limited by time zones.

Please also give me a follow on my social media accounts (facebook and instagram – links can be found on the website menu) where I will be sharing more about my services as well as educating about occupation.

I will also blog here from time to time when I have anything relevant to say or to share service updates.