Post date: 
Thursday, 23 October 2014

Simon Labbett explains the importance of the new professional body for rehabs and it’s all about r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

At last, Rehabilitation Workers with Visually Impaired People now have a professional body. Rehabilitative work with people who are blind or partially sighted has been happening, in one guise of other, for decades. Some people did one job (helping people to get around safely), while others did other jobs such as keeping house.

But the defined job of the rehabilitation worker or officer is still young – 30 years compared to those of social workers or occupational therapists.

So, maybe, the fact that is has taken 30 years to found an organisation to represent our interests is not so surprising.

Whatever the timeframe, it’s been too long. And that delay has had serious consequences. Those of you reading this who have been in the field longer than my ten years have bemoaned the lack of representation for so long, you may be forgiven for thinking it wouldn’t happen. 

Why it matters

For those of you newer to the field, it’s worth stressing why a professional body matters.

I was going to list all the reasons why I believe in the power of a professional body, but I can sum all those reasons up in one work: respect. Respect comes in two parts. We need self-respect – the knowledge that we are a united body of skilled professionals whose training should mean something and is deeply valued by the people we serve. With self-respect, it follows that we can articulate what we do to people who don’t understand the trauma of sight loss. 

Secondly, we require respect of others – those organisations and bodies who need to understand the value of rehabilitation work; that it takes time is worth funding and is worth training for. A professional body is made of its paying members and so its members have a direct stake in making the profession relevant and respected. 

For those of you tempted to think “I’ll wait and see how it goes and maybe join a bit later”, please don’t think this way. I suspect that this thinking has been why it’s taken us so long to get this far. Collectively, this is probably our best shot at it. 

Visit Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network to find out what you can become a part of.