Question Nargis Health

The core principles of occupational therapy

Your understanding of the core principles (value base) of occupational therapy

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Answer Internal Staff

Occupational therapists (OTs) are accountable to certain standards in their professional practice: these standards are underpinned by certain values and principles about what occupational therapy should be. The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) published an updated Code of Ethics in 2015 which outlines the expectations for practitioners. These revolve around distinct categories: service provision, service user welfare and autonomy, professionalism, professional competence and lifelong learning and developing and using the profession’s evidence base (COT, 2015). An OT must practice within these standards or risk disciplinary action, or even dismissal. They are primarily concerned with being committed to excellent care and maintaining high standards in one’s personal practice and conduct. The central focus is on delivering person-centred practice, therefore ensuring the best possible outcomes for the service user. Person-centred practice places value on service-user autonomy, allowing service users to actively participate in the choices made about their care, at the same time as acknowledging one’s duty of care and upholding safeguarding responsibilities towards those who may be vulnerable. There are ethical considerations which should be actively meditated on by all practitioners, such as ensuring that informed consent is obtained from service users in all cases. Naturally, practitioners must also comply with all relevant legislation at all times. The code also stipulates certain expectations regarding professional behaviour in terms of personal conduct (both inside and outside of the work environment) and in terms of maintaining honesty and integrity as central practice values; it is also a requirement to report any fellow practitioner to a line manager or other relevant superior if there are reasonable grounds to assume that they are not practicing in accordance with these standards.


College of Occupational Therapists (2015). ‘Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct’. London: College of Occupational Therapists.