Document Type (Journals)
Involving people with disabilities in the education of occupational therapy students is important for improving knowledge, skills, and attitudes that promote client-centered practice. At Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, community mentors with disabilities are involved in an occupational therapy course designed to enhance student understanding and empathy for the lived experience of disability. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the course required adjustment to adhere to health and safety precautions. We explored the perspectives of community mentors with disabilities who participated in the course during the pandemic to better understand how pandemic-related restrictions affected the mentoring experience, their relationships with students, and educational quality. Findings revealed that all participants considered their mentor role to be beneficial and positive, regardless of the chosen method of interaction (i.e., in-person or via digital technology). However, mentors with prior experience in this role identified differences in the relational aspects of the experience. Some mentors who had established mentoring patterns pre-pandemic quickly shifted into pre-COVID routines, despite the inherent risk, seemingly based on an internalized image of what the role should entail. Other mentors indicated acceptance of the altered patterns, and noted benefits associated with the use of technology. The findings confirm that ensuring mentor autonomy, providing training to mentors, and continuing to promote the benefits of such a course are crucial to support their role in shaping future occupational therapy practice.
Julia Jansen-van Vuuren, PhD is an Occupational Therapist and completed her PhD in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. Her research focuses on family quality of life for families of children with disabilities in low-income contexts.
Nicole Bobbette, Ph.D. is an Occupational Therapist and Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University in Canada. Her research interests focus on supporting the health and well-being of adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, as well as family and paid care-partners.
Rosemary Lysaght, Ph.D. is an Occupational Therapist and Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University in Canada. Her research interests include workplace inclusion of people with disabilities, and innovations in health sciences education.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Jansen-van Vuuren, J., Bobbette, N., & Lysaght, R. (2022). Exploring the Perspectives of Community Mentors in Occupational Therapy Education. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6 (4). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2022.060405
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