Metropolitan College has been running in collaboration with Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh the validated programme BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy since 2013. The programme is a 4-year programme that includes modules of service learning and practice placements, in which students offer their services through voluntary work at organisations that provide protection and services to displaced people, people with disabilities, non-profit organisations or community services that offer any kind of guidance to homeless people or abandoned children with the support of QMU. Furthermore, we have modules linking the basic themes of occupational science to social issues or the UN goals of sustainability and students are asked to undertake an issue and analyse the different perspectives of that in terms of social justice & occupational justice. Students have organized group activities at refugee camps in the Attica District, tours with the homeless around the centre of Athens, etc.
In terms of research and development, the academics of the department undertook the translation and adaptation of the LGBT+ Awareness and Good Practice Guidelines for Occupational Therapists (2019). In terms of practice placements, it was the first occupational therapy programme in Greece to offer practice placement allocation to refugee camps in 2018 and a relevant article was published in the OT News magazine of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists ( https://www.mitropolitiko.edu.gr/en/news/2609-student-s-article-on-her-project-with-refugees-published-by-british-science-magazine/ ). The Occupational Therapy Department and the Research Institute of Occupational Science & Rehabilitation of Metropolitan College with the support of OMU and the World Federation of Occupational Therapists organized the 6th Occupational Therapy Symposium in 2021, with the theme “Occupation & Sustainable development: a multidisciplinary approach in education and practice in health professionals”, which highlighted topics that concern every modern health professional, attracting a large number of students and specialists. The speakers from the fields of Occupational Therapy, and other Health Sciences spoke at the 6th Symposium, giving the interdisciplinary perspective of Sustainable Development and Circular Economy and its connection with health, modern practice and education in the area of health professions.
The impact that this collaboration has had on students, staff, stakeholders and community is of great value. Regarding stakeholders and service users (displaced people, unaccompanied children), a series of meaningful activities were presented to them, giving the opportunity for equal participation in leisure activities that would promote their well-being. (UN SDG #3 & #10).
Students are able to explore and develop new skills in role-emerging sites, understand the impact of inequalities in relation to occupation and occupational therapy. Their engagement with non-clinical populations has helped them understand the impact of poverty and social injustice on health and well-being (UN SDG #1, #3 & #10).
Academics were able to engage in the issue of gender equality that is emerging in the recent research and development of occupational therapy. The translated/adopted guidelines were submitted to the National Association of Occupational Therapists in Greece and the document is offered for free to all colleague members of the association. (UN SDG #5).
The engagement of colleagues and students in the preparation of the Symposium, which was dedicated to Sustainability in a multi-disciplinary approach, has helped them and the attendees to understand the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in terms of global health and how these issues should be immediately incorporated in all aspects of education and practice for all health professionals. (UN SDG #3).