Author: Chow, Shelley Merril
Title: Developing a framework for sustainable occupational therapy private practice : an exploratory study
Advisors: Cheng, Andy (RS)
Degree: DHSc
Year: 2023
Subject: Occupational therapy -- Practice
Occupational therapy services -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
Pages: 249 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: With an increasing number of private practices in occupational therapy being launched in Hong Kong, it is timely to define what constitutes private practice in occupational therapy, as there is no single specific model, framework or any guidelines for such, apart from the Code of Practice for Registered Occupational Therapists (1998 – with Amendments to the Code of Practice dated 17/7/2017) of the Occupational Therapists Board, Hong Kong. While general therapy models such as those outlined by occupational therapy theorists (Kielhofner 2009), are appropriate and can translate to private therapy services, more specific frameworks for private practice do not yet exist.
There is also a need to consider investigating best practice approaches to establishing and sustaining such private occupational therapy services, and sharing these with the occupational therapy profession, with the aim of developing a framework for professional private practice development. There have been private practices which were not sustainable over the long term, and the possible reasons for this could be postulated to further inform the framework being developed.
There is very little literature available on the topic of developing a sustainable private occupational therapy practice, and most papers and studies published to date are based on related allied health care professions such as physiotherapy, and may cover aspects of practice such as staff attrition or retention, and job or client satisfaction.
Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop a framework for sustainable occupational therapy private practice, specifically in Hong Kong with six objectives: 1. to obtain therapists, clients and stakeholders’ views of the current state of private practice in occupational therapy; 2. to define what constitutes private practice in the context of occupational therapy in Hong Kong; 3. to investigate the types of private practice in occupational therapy which are currently in operation in Hong Kong as there is a wide variety, and not all have independent practitioners; investigate aspects of occupational therapy private practice which impact the development of services and sustainability of the practice, including financial, ethical and professional considerations; 5. to identify areas for potential further opportunities where private occupational therapy services can develop; and 6. to develop a model for setting up an occupational therapy private practice, which can guide future occupational therapy practitioners towards success in a private practice in Hong Kong. Content analysis, in-depth interviews and questionnaires, and Delphi method-based surveys were used in this study.
The results of this study showed that there were statistically significant differences between private occupational therapy practitioners who need to fight for sustainability and those aspects of: 1. Working in paediatrics (p=0.026), 2. Financial rewards (p=0.016), and 3. Other reasons (p=0.039) were the motivators to work in the private sector respectively. Other important factors with statistical significance were: 4. Being paid for services in a timely manner (p=0.029), 5. Consistent ethical treatment practices (p=0.031), 6. A clear future direction in private practice (p<0.001), 7. Finding investors/partners (p=0.036), 8. Having a solid base of broad experience as a therapist (p=0.034), 9. Attendance at social/professional events for networking purposes (p=0.009), and 10. Paying recurrent monthly expenses (p=0.048), all of which were scaffolding that is needed to create a successful private occupational therapy practice in Hong Kong.
There was no statistical significance between private occupational therapy practitioners who need to fight for sustainability and several aspects as follows: 1. The commitment to give back (p=0.385), 2. Future direction in private practice – inter-connection with other disciplines (p=0.051) – (this aspect was of barely no significant statistical significance), 3. Attracting client referrals (p=0.054).
These findings revealed that private practitioners face the same challenges to success as those of any entrepreneurial venture. They need to be prepared for economic or political changes which may affect their business operations, such that their practices are sustainable over the long term and their stakeholders, including clients, employees and suppliers, can have confidence in the stable continuity of the practice. A business plan, a vision of what the therapist wants the practice to be, market research, analysis of any competition, the setting of financial goals, creation of a marketing plan, getting feedback and acting on it etc. are all parts of successful business development (Grodzki 2000, Clay 2000), hence these varied aspects were taken into consideration.
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Access: restricted access

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