A recently developed service delivery model, called Partnering for Change, encourages collaboration between occupational therapists, educators and families, and aims to improve children’s participation across school, home and community settings. Partnering for Change has been successful in facilitating equitable access to services and eliminating wait lists; however, it could have a more significant impact through improved capacity-building with families. The purpose of this study is to describe the factors that therapists view as influencing the development of family–therapist relationships in Partnering for Change, and to explore their ideas to improve relationship-building.
Focus groups were completed with 15 occupational therapists who provided Partnering for Change school-based services. Qualitative description methodology and directed content analysis were utilized.
Several factors were identified that influenced the development of family–therapist relationships including competing demands; consistency and availability; awareness, readiness and commitment; relationships with schools and educators; and sociodemographic characteristics. Increasing in-person interactions and awareness of occupational therapy services were suggested to improve relationship-building.
Therapists should consider innovative ways of overcoming competing demands, utilizing relationships with schools and educators, and participating in mentorship and communities of practice to address the current barriers of family–therapist relationships, and create better opportunities for collaboration.