What matters for occupational therapy?

Updated Jan 20th 2021:

I was not elected as WFOT president. Yes, I am disappointed, but I am not sad.

I so much wanted to be part of the team to move WFOT forward. However I am glad that more than one person were willing to run for elections as president and other management positions. This is fundamental important for the federation, and gives the associations the opportunity to have a choice in a democratic election. I warmly congratulate the new WFOT management team chaired by the new WFOT president Samantha Shann. You need all the support and best wishes for moving occupational therapy forward.

I warmly thank those of you who believed in me, supported, nominated and voted for me. I am honored by the long list of associations that nominated me. This will always be remembered with a thankful smile.

I do believe that a more Nordic touch to the World Federation of Occupational Therapist (WFOT) is important. The Nordic associations have made great progress by being politically conscious, and in dialog with government and politicians.

Lastly, I want to thank our outgoing WFOT president, Marilyn Pattison You have done an incredible effort in more than 30 years for WFOT. You have been steady in storm, supportive when needed and funny to socialize with. I wish you all the best for the future.
Thank you!


I am nominated for the position of President of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT). I have accepted nomination from 22 member associations of the WFOT.

Thank you indeed for your nominations. I am humble, honored and motivated.

This is an honor and indeed inspiring. As I recently completed my term of office as the president of the Norwegian Occupational Therapy Association, I have time and energy for new challenges. If elected I am ready to serve as president for the WFOT. The election is January 19th 2021. 

Throughout the decades has WFOT made clear visions and statements on the Federation’s position regarding different issues. Many of those positions resonate very well with my aspirations for the profession. I will mention some areas that matter, where I would like to continue to make a difference. At the same time, I am aware that we have to be realistic about what is possible to do within our Federation and its resources.

Everybody matter

The international collective of occupational therapy practitioners, educators, researchers, regional and national associations are closely linked together. This has been of fundamental importance for the development of the profession and given us a foundation to serve citizens´ health, participation and inclusion in society. Our collaboration, networking and sharing culture is one of our professions most important assets. I believe in teamwork and to learn from each other. I will support development of ‘us’ and ‘we’ within the WFOT, the council and within the management team.

Participation and meaningful occupation matter 

The primary goal for occupational therapy is to enable people to participate and engage in occupations which they want, need and are expected to do. Expertise in occupation and participation is what the global population needs now, due to challenges related to demography, poverty, communicable and non-communicable diseases, substance abuse as well as inequities in social welfare, inclusion, economy and health. This year most of us have experienced disruption of our daily routines and meaningful occupations due to the pandemic. Occupational therapists have core competencies to meet these challenges as change agents. 

Human rights and inclusion matter

Occupational therapists are concerned with human rights in pursuing occupational justice for all. We promote occupational therapy to a broad spectrum of political, social, and economic marginalized groups. Occupational therapists are supporting the right for equality and inclusion. We are enabling engagement in meaningful, purposeful occupations, irrespective of medical diagnosis, social stigma or pre-justices. This points to our role in societies as being advocates for a broad group of citizens also those outside health and welfare services. 

Diversity and decolonialisation matter

The 2002 revision of the Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists (co-authored by myself and Professor Clare Hocking), made a clear shift by implementing a decolonising perspective by claiming the importance of local context when planning and delivering occupational therapy education. It is imperative to move our mission forward by learning from each other from all parts of the world. WFOT have diverse member organisations from different countries and a variety of cultures and backgrounds. This diversity is our strength and guides our future. 

Sustainability matters

WFOT are committed to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). WHOs initiative with Rehabilitation 2030, in which WFOT is involved, is part of achieving the SDG. Occupational therapists have a lot to offer for sustainable solutions and practices. We are promoters for empowerment and participation, preventative health care, rehabilitation, health promotion, and part of a lean and efficient service delivery.  We are modifying inclusive work environments to ensure participation and economic income; we are involved in planning age friendly societies and accessible schools and public arenas. Our role in balancing independence and interdependence is invaluable. We see resources both within the individual, groups and communities.

Technology matters

Technology opens up new opportunities for occupation and participation in all areas of life. This includes a variety of technology and digital solutions, for instance telehealth, computer gaming, smart houses and assistive technology. WFOT have established a range of websites, resources, World Occupational Therapy Day, virtual events and activities on social media. This has increased international communication, between WFOT and its members and facilitated the development of cost-effective, global professional networks.  

Partnership and dialogue matter 

It is important to establish strategic partnerships, where especially WFOTs involvement in WHO-projects are central. It is important to forge relationships with partners, and it is easier to reach our goals when collaborating with partners of common interest.

I see WFOT as a collective agent of change with the development of network between member associations and other relevant partners. 

End remarks

I am very aware that I am privileged by living in a well-resourced country. Still, I have learned through my international roles and networks, and through international visits. I have especially learned from brilliant occupational therapy colleagues from different corners of the world. And I must add; I do know the struggle of speaking and writing English as a second language. 

Collaboration within international organisations is more important than ever. I am ready to serve as WFOT president. I am ready to be partner for inclusion and participation.

Om Nils Erik Ness

Tidligere forbundsleder Norsk Ergoterapeutforbund, tidligere førstelektor NTNU, Ergoterapeut
Dette innlegget ble publisert i Uncategorized. Bokmerk permalenken.

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