Work is good for one’s health and well-being. Work for people with disabilities should be encouraged because it is therapeutic and improves participation in the society, leading to better health outcomes. It develops interpersonal relationships and enhances life quality. Work is an aspiration for many people with intellectual disability. Within research literature, there appears to be a lack of research into the experience of occupational therapists in Ireland who refer adults with intellectual disabilities to supported employment services. The purpose of this paper was to explore the experience of Irish occupational therapists who refer adults with intellectual disabilities to supported employment services.
Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with four occupational therapists recruited through the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI). Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Themes that emerged were as follows: occupational therapy participants did not directly refer adults to supported employment but received referrals; occupational therapy roles included assessments, task analysis and development of client’s skills are major components of current practice; pragmatics involved factors that facilitate and challenge; and future roles.
This paper contributes to occupational therapy practice knowledge by providing a perspective on supported employment in Ireland. Occupational therapists should continue to work in the area of supported employment to support social inclusion and enable participation. Further research with occupational therapists working in this field is required to inform practice.