Working in a community recreation program: A study of consumer-staff perspectives

Maria S K Yuen, Ellie M. Fossey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Consumers working as service providers make unique contributions to the quality, accessibility, and responsiveness of mental health services. Relatively little research has explored these roles. This study used a naturalistic inquiry methodology to explore consumer-staff views of working in a program that assists people living with mental illness to access recreation. Three consumer-staff were interviewed about the rewards and challenges of their work. Qualitative analysis of participants' views identified eight themes: (i) wanting purposeful activity; (ii) the importance of work; (iii) rewards of helping others; (iv) re-establishing social networks; (v) gaining a sense of belonging; (vi) experiencing teamwork; (vii) challenges of working; and (viii) maintaining well-being. These findings suggest consumer-provider initiatives may create occupational opportunities and facilitate empowerment of consumers in provider roles. A team approach, clear roles, appropriate remuneration and support are central to achieving these benefits. Occupational therapists should advocate for, and support such initiatives that empower consumers in overcoming barriers to meaningful occupation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Consumer empowerment
  • Enabling occupation
  • Mental health services

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