Three Universities (Lund University (LU), University of Southampton (UoS) and National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)) collaborated in a strategic partnership funded through Erasmus+ with the overarching aim of internationalising an occupational therapy curriculum delivered in all three partner institutions. In the final year a further three Universities; University of Vic (UoV), Spain, Riga Stradins University (RSU), Latvia and Bournemouth University (BU), UK, were invited to join the partnership.
The new and innovative methods and approaches to learning identified in this handbook are driven by the need to develop independent, intrinsically motivated learners and thinkers with a capacity for reflective and critical analysis of their own and other professionals’ practice. The learning approaches described aim to develop future health practitioners who have: 1) an appreciation of ethical and responsible practices in a challenging multicultural context; 2) an awareness of social, civic and environmental responsibilities in care and an appreciation of the value of diversity and 3) its relationship to innovation, quality and mutual respect.
Occupational therapy is a health profession with the primary goal of enabling people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Within occupational therapy engagement in meaningful activities and opportunities for participation in society is viewed as important for health and wellbeing. Interventions may be preventive and take place in the community or be used to inform policymakers and legislation to improve health and well-being on a population level. Occupational therapists use their expertise in collaborative practice with other professionals when working together with patients, families and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.
In all three countries occupational therapy is a relatively small professional group. The core philosophies, paradigms and models in occupational therapy differ but are informed by the medical and biopsychosocial models that dominate the healthcare sector. Increasingly occupational therapists find themselves working in diverse areas of practice requiring strong professional identity. The participating universities proposed that working together with small cohorts that share a common professional language, core philosophies and values might support the development of professional identity.
This EU funded project offered opportunities for students from up to 6 different universities to work and study together through two main learning opportunities – a physical exchange and a virtual learning environment.
This handbook offers insights into how the project was established, the aims of the project, core learning and teaching activities, discussion on the development of professional identity, how to sustain the project in the future and the management of budgets and agreements. Within the handbook the participating staff offer key learning points and a model for establishing international educational collaborative projects which will help to support similar educational initiatives.