May 2020 :
Disability Award On 11/05/2020 the Institute Kosovar i Ergoterapisë were pleased to present the Instituti’s Disability Award to Down’s Syndrome Kosovo. This was special at this time because they were recognising the work and dedication to people with Down Syndrome during the time of the pandemic. To present the award Dr Jennifer Caldwell - Founder of the institute, Rina Hajdaraga - President and Arlinda Canolli – Coordinator met with Mrs Sebahate Beqiri, Executive Director of Down’s Syndrome Kosovo via SKYPE. Mrs Sebahate Beqiri was extremely happy to receive the Award and dedicated it to the staff of Down’s Syndrome Kosovo for their hard work over the past months.
CPD Workshops On 19th May 2020 the first workshop from the series "Therapeutic Assessments" was held via Google Meet. The workshop was led by Dr Jennifer Caldwell, where we were pleased to have 30 participants from Kosovo, Finland and Montenegro and diversity does not end up here, but also included different professions including Logopedi, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Ergotherapists and volunteers. Thank you very much to all participants of the workshop for their active participation and we look forward to welcoming them and others to future workshops, please watch Facebook for future dates.
INKET a professional group within Kosovo aims to give ergotherapists a sense of belonging, a sense of identity and unity of purpose. INKET aims to unify the efforts of ergotherapists making them stronger, more visible and more credible. INKET is a platform for developing strong, supportive, positive relationships among ergotherapists and between the profession of ergotherapy and other stakeholders such as Governments and other health care providers. World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) and Member Associations advocate for a well-educated, competent, well-regulated ergotherapy workforce aggregated in well-led and managed groups such as INKET. This will:
• Give visibility, credibility and attractiveness to the profession;
• Create pride of place and belonging
• Make the profession attractive to individuals
The benefits of joining a professional group are numerous. The specific benefits provided by groups may differ, but one that is generally the same across all professional groups is the ability to enhance credibility in the eyes of the consumer. Most groups provide their logo for members to use on stationery and, other media items. Due to the fact that professional groups will usually implement strict quality standards and codes of practice for membership, the recognised mark of a group may increase consumers' confidence.
Most professional groups provide various benefits for members, which may be included in the membership fee. These benefits can be numerous, and differ depending on the professional group. Some common benefits, provided by professional groups, are as follows:
Enhanced exposure to consumers
Technical advice and support
Access to industry schemes
Training courses and certification
Free subscriptions to association publications
Events, seminars and conferences
The Instituti’s objectives are to:
•promote good practice as an integral part of good care, by practice and example, teaching, writing and research, and by networking with other appropriate agencies
•encourage professional development, reflection and training by sponsoring relevant courses and meetings, both nationally and locally
•provide support and fellowship by organising an annual conference, promoting regional meetings and through the Instituti website
•act as a point of reference and advice for members
•provide professional advice to health care authorities, and relevant bodies and communities
Ergotherapy in Kosovo
In 2012, there was only one qualified ergotherapist in Kosovo (Ms Diana Ullrich), she had 15 years’ experience as a certified occupational therapist assistant in the United States of America and 16 years’ experience as an ergotherapist in Kosovo. Ms Ullrich is fluent in both written and spoken Albanian, this enabled her to understand the heart of the Kosovar people while gathering data from Kosovar ergotherapy clients, their families and other Kosovar agencies. She had run an occupational therapy clinic (The Agape Centre, Gjilane) for some 10 years.
Ergotherapy education in Kosovo
In 2012, when the BSc Ergotherapy program started at QEAP Heimerer now Kolegji Heimerer, Pristina Kosovo, there was only one qualified ergotherapist in the country working within a charity supported clinic in Gjilan. There was no training for ergotherapists, the profession was unknown and unrecognised within the country.
Kolegji Heimerer developed and started the BSc Ergotherapy program based on the experience of running several similar programs in Germany. The ergotherapy program in Kosovo was initially based on the Germany curriculum with cultural and societal adjustments being made for the country of Kosovo. The ergotherapist based in Gjilan was recruited by Kolegji-Heimerer in 2012 until they recruited an ergotherapy educationalist (with 25+ years of occupational therapy education) from UK to be Head of Programme in 2014, Dr Jennifer Caldwell, was Pro-Dean with responsibility for ergotherapy until 2017. The programme continues to develop under the direction of Margriet Jaspers.
History of Ergotherapy/Occupational therapy
It is believed that occupational therapy was used for treatment of patients with mental or emotional disorders long time back in 100 BCE. For the first time, a Greek physician named Asclepiades used therapeutic massages, exercises, baths, and music to heal stress and soothe their minds. Later, another Greek philosopher, Celsus used similar therapies like conversation, travel, and music with his patients.
In 18th century, two Europeans, Phillippe Pinel and Johann Christian Rell adopted this method and ameliorate the hospital system. During this era, they quitted metal chains and involved some relaxing activities and meticulous work in their procedure of treating such patients.
Occupational therapy emerged as a profession in 1917 in the United States of America when the National Society for Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now known as American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)) was established. It was officially named as Occupational Therapy in 1920. This association was found with the belief in remedial properties of human occupation. This therapy played a vital role in the treatment of patients suffering with AIDS, polio, tuberculosis, etc.
In the UK, occupational therapy grew exponentially after World War 1 as a result of the high number of casualties suffered by the fighting generation. After the war, these men were often unable to work or labour without the help of an occupational therapy programme to help rehabilitate them into working life and allow them to complete necessary tasks.
Although this was occupational therapy in practice, it was not called occupational therapy until Margaret Barr Fulton MBE became the first 'occupational therapist' to work on the UK in 1925. Working in Aberdeen, Fulton cultivated a strong reputation for the department and helped to develop the profession in the UK. Whilst successful in Scotland, it was Dr Elizabeth Casson who introduced occupational therapy to the UK after seeing it in practice in America, establishing a residential clinic in Bristol in 1929. Casson would found the first school of occupational therapy in the UK in her Bristol clinic in 1930 which would begin training occupational therapists in the UK based on American techniques.
This was further developed after the second world war where the same thing happened, although occupational therapists were also used in the war within military hospitals to help soldiers recover from their injuries enough to become effective as soldiers once again.
The field of Occupational Therapy kept growing. During the 1960's, as medicine became "specialized", so did occupational therapy. Occupational Therapists were also called upon and qualified to treat in the fields of pediatrics and developmental disabilities. And, with de-institutionalization came an even greater need to help mentally ill, physically infirmed, and developmentally challenged individuals become independent and productive members of society. It was Occupational Therapists that could easily fill this role, and the surge for competently educated therapists was on.
During the 1980's and 1990's, Occupational Therapy began to focus more on a person's quality of life, thus becoming more involved in education, prevention, screenings, and health maintenance. Goals of occupational therapy could now focus on prevention, quality, and maintaining independence.
Today, occupation is the main focus of the profession. It is certainly an ever-evolving and dynamically moving profession. You will find Occupational Therapists working in a variety of settings with several different age groups and disabilities. Anyone with a physical, emotional, or developmental deficit can be referred by his/her physician, school, or parent for any one of the following reasons: prematurity, birth defect, spina bifida, attention deficit disorder, developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, sensory dysfunction, autism, hyperactivity, down syndrome, amputation, stroke, arthritis, burns, head injury, dementia, diabetes, or cardiac conditions.
Occupational Therapy is a product of, and dependent on, a social environment that values the individual and believes that each person has the capacity to act on his/her own behalf to achieve a better state of health through occupation. Many challenges still need to be met... the future is now!