The concept of occupational deprivation is not necessarily new in occupational therapy, but I do think it is one that continues to gain attention as the area of occupational justice continues to develop. Wilcock (2006) defined occupational deprivation as deprivation of occupational choice and diversity because of circumstances beyond the control of the individual or the community.
There are a variety of circumstances that may limit occupational choice such as socioeconomic factors. This may affect many clients with whom occupational therapists work, as it is also linked with disability status. Whereas it is important to consider occupational deprivation on the individual level, perhaps an area where OTs have a real opportunity to share their expertise is in the community.
In thinking about your community, are there instances or events that have the potential to result in occupational deprivation for those who may have difficulty accessing them to participate? For instance, in my city, there are a number of festivals and fiestas held. Some of the events are manageable, but others are very difficult for those with mobility impairments to attend. Since my mother uses a wheelchair, I know the first-hand experience of trying to access the parking situation, if our city bus system is providing transportation to the event (always a good option as it is completely accessible and negates the need to find accessible parking) the terrain on which the event will be held, and estimating the crowd size to determine how safe it will be to navigate. And all of this must occur BEFORE the event to determine if we will attend.
So it is easy to see why there are many community events that are not an option for someone with a mobility impairment to attend, or the planning to attend just becomes too overwhelming and it is easier just not to go. But these are the very in stances that result in occupational deprivation for many in our communities.
What instances of occupational deprivation do you see for your clients or for members of your community?
Wilcock, A. (2006). An Occupational Perspective of Health (2nd Ed.) Thoroughfare: Slack.