10 Steps to a Successful National OT Month
1. Know where you are headed
The goal of Occupational Therapy Month is to promote awareness of occupational therapy among the community at large - because this year's theme is so broad, you really can't go wrong! Your target audience could include parents, schools, or senior citizens as well as third-party payers who may include insurers, workers' compensation boards, employers, etc. Is there a particular threat or opportunity in your area that could be addressed through an OT Month strategy? Contact your provincial/territorial association for assistance or consider using information from the public resources section of this website, which has OT tips and information regarding people of ages.
2. Organize your OT Month Committee
The combined efforts of your committee members can make planning successful and interesting. Ask people to volunteer. It may be challenging to recruit people because everyone has such busy schedules, so you often need to approach them with a message of "more hands make lesser work for all." Don't forget to invite students, too. At your first meeting, schedule future meetings so that everyone can plan around these dates and times and make a commitment to attending. Then…brainstorm and plan away!The combined efforts of your committee members can make planning successful and interesting. Ask people to volunteer. With busy schedules, few people will come forward so you often need to approach them with a message of “many hands make less work for all”. Don’t forget to invite students too. At your first meeting schedule all the rest of the meetings, so that everyone can plan around these dates and times; then…brainstorm, brainstorm, and plan, plan, plan.
3. Who do you hope will learn something about occupational therapy? The answer is your target audience.
Choose an area or a group of people in your community that has a need for OT services or that you think knows little about the profession or has a limited viewpoint of it. OT Month is your chance to augment or change their perspective.
4. What do you want people to learn about occupational therapy?
This will depend on who you're targeting. Here a few examples:
In the workplace:
How occupational therapists help people to return to work via functional capacity evaluations, work-site analysis, employee education, ergonomic analyses, etc.
How occupational therapists can help employers to reduce stress on the job.
How occupational therapists can help students perform better in specific tasks like handwriting or with motor coordination.
How occupational therapists can work with teachers to reduce their stress and help them stay in the classroom.
In the home
How occupational therapis:ts can offer strategies to assist with specific activities, e.g. if someone has difficulty bathing, the OT can recommend equipment such as a bath bench or a powered bath lift.
How occupational therapists can provide advice on universal design, so people can build or modify their homes to suit their current and future needs.
5. Plan the how
You’ve determined WHAT you want to say, and to WHOM. Now consider HOW you can best accomplish this. Through activities or events? A media contact program? A direct mail campaign?
6. Plan the when and where
What is the best time of day/evening for your chosen activities/events? What are the best days of National OT Month for these? Where should you hold your events? At your workplace? Outside the workplace?
7. Your OT Month Committee is key
Once you've decided the what you want to teach, the who you want to learn, how you're going to do it, when and where... you are ready to put your plan into action. Make a list of what has to be done and when, and assign specific responsibilities to each OT Month committee member. Have regular committee meetings to make sure you are on schedule.
8. Who else can assist you?
Is there a public relations or communications officer in your workplace? If yes, ask your own experts how they might help make OT Month successful both in your workplace and outside. Questions can also be e-mailed to CAOT’s communications coordinator.
9. During National OT Month
Display your OT Month calendar and the September OT Now in your facility or outside to reach a new group of people. Use the OT fact sheets available on the CAOT web site. Include them in news releases to the media for background information, submit them to you facility's newsletter or give it out during presentations. You may wish to place the fact sheet information on your own letterhead. Make sure you include your own contact information: name, address, phone and fax numbers.
Take photos of activities, people, displays, etc. You can use them in your facility’s newsletter, or the local media might be interested in receiving one or two with a news release about your event. Be sure to get signed releases from any staff or clients.
10. After National OT Month
Have a wrap-up meeting with your OT Month committee as soon after the month as possible. You've worked hard and congratulations are in order! Remember to thank everyone who helped make the month such a success. A thank-you note is always appreciated and increases the chance these people will help again next year. Make notes about what worked, what didn't, what should stay the same or could be changed for next year. These notes will be very helpful for next year's committee. If you write things down while they're still fresh in your mind, planning National OT Month next year will be so much easier! Finally, keep a file of any media coverage: Save clippings from newspapers and ask radio and TV stations for copies of the recordings.
Can you afford it?
Sometimes the ideas are brilliant but require more money than you have to make them happen. Perhaps you can get companies or organizations to sponsor your ideas. Develop a list of ways to publicly acknowledge your sponsors. For example, you could thank them on your pamphlets or display signs at your events.
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