News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), the global leadership body of the occupational therapy profession, convened its biennial Council Meeting in Bermuda from February 29 – March 3. The event, co-hosted by the Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association (BOTA) and WFOT, brought together approximately 80-100 international delegates, including key health, insurance, and education stakeholders.

The Council Meeting, a gathering occurring every two years in diverse global locations, serves as a platform for strategizing on the global positioning and development of the occupational therapy profession. This year’s meeting in Bermuda was held in collaboration with an Executive Management Team Meeting, providing an opportunity for in-depth discussions and governance planning for the WFOT.

The Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, acknowledged the need for increased recognition, stating, “Bermuda, with its small but dedicated workforce of around 35 practising occupational therapists, faced unique challenges in raising awareness about the profession among the public. Unfortunately, the profession is not well known or understood by the public; therefore, the benefits have not been fully explored.

“This unprecedented gathering facilitated crucial discussions on the challenges faced by the occupational therapy profession in Bermuda and paved the way for collaborative solutions.”

The BOTA, an associate member of WFOT since 1992, successfully submitted a proposal to host the Council Meeting, emphasizing the profession’s challenges in Bermuda, including a small workforce and limited community awareness. The event drew key stakeholders, including government officials, insurance representatives, and healthcare and education leaders, reflecting a collaborative effort to address the unique challenges faced by the occupational therapy profession on the island.

Photo with Minister Kim Wilson: Samantha Shann – World Federation of Occupational Therapists President, Akilah Lapsley-Dyer – Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association Secretary Eshe Coleman – Bermuda Health Council Programme Manager and Waletté Cross – Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association Chairperson

Attendees included:

Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association Chair, Waletté Cross

Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association Vice Chair and WFOT Delegate, Dr. Pashé Douglas-Sampson

Bermuda Occupational Therapy Association Recording Secretary, Akilah Lapsley-Dyer

World Federation of Occupational Therapy President, Samantha Shann

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Vice President, Margarita Gonzalez

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Vice President Finance, Tracey Patridge-Tricker

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Executive Director, Ritchard Legerd

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Programme Coordinator – Education, Tecla Mlambo

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Programme Coordinator – Practice Development, Andrew Freeman

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Programme Coordinator – Research ,Lynettte Mackenzie

Minister of Health, Kim Wilson

Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, Tinee Furbert

Argus Group Provider Relations Manager, Karima Stevens-Smith

Argus Group Vice President of Population Health Management, – Shakira Warner

Bermuda Health Council Programme Manager, Eshe Coleman

Bermuda College acting Vice President, Necheeka Trott

Bermuda College Director of Nursing and Allied Health, Kathy-Ann Swan

Department of Health Director, David Kendall

Department of Health Community Rehabilitation Services Coordinator, Teresa Woolridge

Bermuda Hospitals Board Vice President Clinical Operations, Chief of Staff Office, Sita Ingram

Bermuda Hospitals Board Clinical Director, Allied Health Services, Angela Gilbert 

Bermuda Hospitals Board – Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute Clinical Director Intellectual Disabilities  Programme, Morrisa Rogers

Bermuda Board of Occupational Therapy President, Nicole Blades

The Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, Tinée Furbert, welcomed the Delegates to Bermuda. Minister Furbert said: “As the Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, and an Occupational Therapist, I was delighted to welcome the Executive Team and Delegates of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists to Bermuda for their Council Meeting 2024. This unique opportunity to co-host the Executive and Council Meetings shows Bermuda’s commitment to advancing occupational therapy services for our most vulnerable and cherished population groups: our children, persons with disabilities, and our seniors. These discussions are crucial, and I look forward to the positive impact they will have on the future of occupational therapy in Bermuda.”

Dr Pashé J Douglas-Sampson, a Bermuda Occupational Therapist and one of the event organizers, expressed her joy at showcasing both the island and the remarkable profession.

“As an OT, sometimes I can give someone their first chance at something, and other times I can give someone another chance. I find that to be very special. In this moment, we can give our profession and professionals here the opportunity to highlight how unique and significant we are. This is our first step to something great.”

Looking ahead, BOTA will be developing a workforce strategy specifically tailored to address the unique needs of the Bermuda occupational therapy profession. Aligned with the WFOT Global Strategy for the Occupational Therapy Workforce, this strategy aims to inform human resource planning, development, and practice for the profession, ensuring a robust and supportive environment for occupational therapists in Bermuda.

Group Photo  (l to r): Tracey Partridge-Tricker, Sita Ingram, Angela Gilbert, Samantha Shann, David Kendall, Pashé Douglas-Sampson, Andre Freema, Margarita Gonzalez, Lynette Mackenzia, Min Tinée Furbert, Morissa Rogers and Tecla Mlambo