Exploring the practice of Slovenian occupational therapists who work with older people at their homes – a mixed-methods study
Background: In Slovenia, demographic data and government legislations suggest the move from the institutionalized to home care and the potential for home-based occupational therapy services exists. There is, however, no data about the provision of home-based occupational therapy services for older people. Aims: To explore the practice of Slovenian occupational therapists working with older people (65+ years) at their homes. Methods: Reviewing the literature, the questionnaire with three themes (External factors affecting practice, Service delivery and Future improvements of service delivery) was developed. It was distributed via email to 7 Slovenian occupational therapists working in the area. The unclear areas of practice from the questionnaire served as a basis for further questions. Semi-structured interviews with 4 participants were conducted. Results: Participants differed in the delivery of their services, but there were some commonalities: they were all a part of an interdisciplinary team, worked with people with different conditions, they all used occupational therapy models in their practice, set goals and used a variety of standardised assessments in their practice. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed 7 interconnected themes: Reasons for referrals, The importance of professional development, Promotion of occupational therapy services, Possible use of higher budget, Cooperation with occupational therapists, Decisions on the direction of practice and Issues within the health care system. Conclusion: Client-centred and occupation-based practice are two strong areas of practice as described by the participants. The practice could be improved with increased professional cooperation, professional development and better promotion. The implications for future cooperation with the national occupational therapy association are proposed as well as implications for education. Even though this study is quite a comprehensive overview of the practice, it is important to note its limitations, such as small sample or limited data analysis due to extensive study findings.