Sport For Confidence and Boccia England produce Guide for Occupational Therapy Practice

Social Enterprise, Sport For Confidence, has partnered with Boccia England, the National Governing Body for boccia, to produce an evidence-based guide, endorsed by The Royal College of Occupational Therapy, detailing how the sport of boccia can be used as an assessment and intervention tool for Occupational Therapy practice.

Physical Activity

It is a fact that people with a disability or other long-term conditions such as mental illness are much less likely than the general population to be physically active. Sport England’s 2016 ‘Active Lives Survey’ reported that more than 74 per cent of the general population was ‘active’ or ‘fairly active’. These figures decrease dramatically amongst disability groups. The survey found, 59 per cent of people with 2 impairments and 49 per cent of people with 3 or more impairments were inactive.

As a result, disability groups do not fully benefit from the many social, physical and mental benefits associated with an active lifestyle. It is therefore considered a priority that occupational therapists integrate sporting activities for their therapeutic potential and also for their role in enabling people with a range of health conditions to build a resilient habit of being more active.

Therapeutic Activity

In response to this, Boccia England has commissioned Sport For Confidence to produce a guide suggesting how the sport can be used, by Occupational Therapists, as a therapeutic activity for a wide range of client populations in a variety of ways.

Boccia is a target game which relies on skill, accuracy and tactics. Typically a team sport, boccia lends itself perfectly to a therapeutic group setting but boccia can also be used as an individual intervention.

Speaking about the Guide, Lyndsey Barrett, Senior Occupational Therapist and Founder at Sport For Confidence, says:

“Sport For Confidence already delivers 6 boccia sessions every week across 5 sporting venues, typically attracting more than 100 people with physical and mental issues both known and unknown to services.“The purpose of the guide is to equip Occupational Therapists and students with skills, knowledge and confidence to embed boccia into their professional practice. Ideally, these newly qualified Allied Health Professionals will seek out partnerships with sports coaches in mainstream sporting environments. Sport For Confidence is already evidencing a wide range of life changing outcomes amongst its service users, some of which are detailed in the guide and include: working with individuals with depression, developing social communication and interaction skills and improving hand function and upper body strength.”

Launch Event

To launch the guide, Sport For Confidence, Boccia England and The Royal College of Occupational Therapy are hosting an event on March 6 at the Basildon Sporting Village in Essex. Speaking about the event, Dan Bentley, gold medal boccia Paralympian, from Boccia England, says:

“We are really excited to become the first National Governing Body to officially bring together professionals from the sport and health sectors in this way to achieve mental, physical and social outcomes for people with a wide range of mental and physical impairments. Boccia is already proving successful as an assessment and intervention tool through the work Sport For Confidence has been delivering across Essex and the Guide makes it possible to enable more people to benefit.”

The event will provide final year Occupational Therapy students, National Governing Bodies, coaches and leisure operators with an opportunity to see boccia sessions taking place with some of Sport For Confidence regular service users and meet with representatives from all the organisations involved. Julia Skelton, Director of Operations at the Royal College of Occupational Therapy and Dan Bentley, will be addressing delegates and the event will conclude with a networking lunch.

Steve Mitchell, Director at Sport For Confidence, says:

“Having evidenced the positive impact of our Sport for Confidence programmes, we are confident that there are opportunities for many other NGBs and national organisations to develop a similar resource to be used on a sport specific basis when working with segments of society who are under-represented in traditional sport and physical activity settings. We would welcome an opportunity to talk to any representatives who are keen to explore opportunities.

“Sport For Confidence is already delivering programmes utilising trampolining, cricket, athletics, tennis (SERVES), swimming, cycling, football, dodgeball, netball, basketball, rugby and fencing, with others in development. Sport and physical activity provide fantastic opportunities for assessment and treatment, and when delivered in conjunction with health professionals can provide hugely powerful and sustainable opportunities for thought leading work delivering measurable social and public health impact at a local level.”