New Researcher: Annie Carrier - At the interface

How our actions can influence the professional practice environment and vice -versa

While working as a CLSC occupational therapist, Annie Carrier wondered what rights the users of services had in regard to waiting lists. This question led her to enquire about the home services access criteria and the impact that they have on the clinical reasoning of a health care professional, that is to say the cognitive process which guides him in his choice of intervention.

Then one question led to another, and eventually she completed two master's degrees (one in health law and policy and another one in clinical sciences), a doctorate in clinical sciences, a 3rd cycle diploma for the graduate education pedagogy microprogram, and a postdoctorate on the effective manner of influencing organizational decision-makers and policies (systemic knowledge transfer).

Influences

Now a researcher at the CdRV (Autonomisation Research Axis) and a professor with the rehabilitation school of the faculty of medicine and health sciences at the Université de Sherbrooke, she continues to have an interest in the interfaces between contexts and individuals. Her expertise focuses on the influence of institutional components (e.g.: laws, regulations, administrative procedures, and the rules and methods for organizing services and labour) in the delivery of frontline interventions to the elderly.

"The labour context of a worker will influence his choices in the elements he will assess and on which he will intervene," she said. "For example, if a professional only has 10 minutes in which to perform a series of tasks in the home, he risks missing secondary tasks which might fall into his area of expertise and meet some significant needs for the elder. Instead the worker will focus on the key action which addresses the request that he was initially given. By doing so, he reduces the scope of his intervention to meet the requirement associated with the volume of services that he needs to provide to the detriment of the needs of the individual."

Optimizing performance

After closely examining the dynamic unique to occupational therapists, Dr. Annie Carrier will extend her research to other workers, including social workers and physicians.

Her research programming within a context of major institutional changes is important. "What happens to elderly persons who have needs to which we have not responded?" asks the researcher. "We talk a lot about accessibility and service volume. Don't we risk offering services only at a surface level? Do those services meet the 'real' needs of the elderly? "

Transforming her environment

Prof. Carrier is also interested in the capacity of individuals to act as agents of change to modify the institutional context in which they evolve. "My programming contributes to the identification of contextual components to improve (axis 1) and actions which can bring about change (axis 2). For example, I can assist a group of individuals who wish to adapt the service offer such that they better meet the needs of the elderly," she said.

The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists awarded her the 2017 CAOT-QC Outstanding Occupational Therapist of the Year Award for her work.

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