Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Labour VS Work (Extra Post)

Why is there a need for an occupational service?

According to Arendt, (1958),
"Labour is the activity which corresponds to the biological process of the human body, whose spontaneous growth, metabolism, and eventual decay are bound to the vital necessities produced and fed into the life process by labour. The human condition of labour is life itself".
In contrast Arendt, (1958), defines work as,
"The activity which corresponds to the unnaturalness of human existence"

Reflecting on these quotes I believe cooking dinner is definitely an everyday necessity and process of labour otherwise we would not survive for long (I know I wouldn't!). The food we process by labour is consumed basically straight away and has no enduring quality unless there are left overs! However, as I have stated in a previous blog, my cooking has components of work in it as it can be a choice and is something I enjoy doing that allows me to be a responsible human being and helpful family member.

On Thursday night it was my night to make dinner, I didn't exactly feel excited to cook as I was tired from the week, however this had to be done. I had put the corn beef in the slow cooker during the day so all I needed to do was prepare vegetables to go with it. I was planning to go to the gym so I was aware of my time constraint. I decided to do my favourite vegetables, kumara, pumpkin, carrots and broccoli. I had to make sure I prepared enough as we had a guest coming over for dinner.

This brings up the question, why is there a need for this occupational service? Well I cook for different reasons (sometimes labour, sometimes work) however, in this case it was a labour role. Maslow's Hierachy of Needs shows the basic fundamentals for survival including water, food, shelter, and surviving illness which all need to be met for one to survive and have a balanced life.

Comments I have posted on other students blogs:

References I have used throughout my six blog postings:

Arendt, H. (1958). The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Baer, R. (Ed.). (2006). Mindfulness Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and Applications. United States of America: Elsevier Inc.

Creek, J., & Lawson-Porter, A. (Eds.). (2007). Contemporary Issues in Occupational Therapy. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Christiansen, C. & Townsend, E. (2004). Introduction to Occupation: The Art and Science of Living. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.

Hagedorn, R. (2000). Tools for Practice in Occupational Therapy: A Structured Approach to Core Skills and Processes. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone
Visser, (1986). Much Depends on Dinner. New York: Grove Press

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Practical Considerations

According to Christiansen & Townsend (2004), practical considerations influence how we engage in our activities or occupations. It is the supply of objects or tools necessary to effectively perform and engage in our occupations.

In light of this quote I can see that the fit between my activity of cooking and the influences practical considerations have on cooking are a considerable factor. This afternoon I decided to make a bacon and egg pie for dinner, simple and delicious. I was trying to get my ingredients together and find the filo pastry in the freezer however this simple task turned out to be not so simple. My four family members were all in the kitchen rummaging around making their own food for their afternoon tea, making it extremely difficult to prepare my bacon and egg pie. The practical consideration within this was the size of our kitchen. There was not enough room for us all to be in there and this influenced my cooking and attitude toward my cooking. We all tried to stick to a part of the kitchen each and pass each other utensils we each needed to allow for a relaxed kitchen experience. We were running low on baking dishes and cutlery as they had not been cleaned from the night before. This was a practical consideration I did not like the look of and was not surprised about. Dishes in our house are one thing everybody puts off until it ultimately needs to be done. Once I had washed up and put the pie in the oven I was able to clean up the mess I had made while preparing it. Thank god for dishwashers!


Christiansen, C. & Townsend, E. (2004). Introduction to Occupation: The Art and Science of Living. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.


"Ambience describes the feeling created by a particular nature of an activity when it is being done for itself".
(Butler, personal communication, 2011).

The fit between ambience and the environment for me, is the atmosphere and impression in the kitchen and how the mood in that specific environment affects how I feel while cooking.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and all I felt like doing was cooking a delicious meal to match the weather. My family and I were planning to have a barbeque outside because of the nice weather. I felt a peaceful and stress free atmosphere when I walked into the kitchen/lounge area and once I saw that the bench was clear, my mood lifted immediately and I started preparing dinner. Some relaxing New Zealand music was playing in the background and this created an ambient atmosphere for me to work my magic. The atmosphere is important when cooking as it not only effects how I cook but how the food tastes too! I am not one to have an interest in Feng Shui however, I believe a factor that influences our engagement in occupations is that if we want to enjoy our cooking experience it seems as though it is necessary we feel positive and comfortable in our environment! As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, depending on the influences and convenience of cooking dinner, labour is the framework I identified cooking to be. However, in this case it was so enjoyable it really only felt like work!

Affordances cont.

Here is a poem that is demonstrating connections between areas of my cooking:
This is the house called home,
This is the kitchen in the house called home,
This is the draw that holds the cutlery in the kitchen, that is in the house called home,
This is the dirty knife in the draw, that holds the cutlery in the kitchen, that is in the house called home,
This is the chicken that was cut with the knife, that is in the draw, that holds the cutlery in the kitchen, in the house called home,
This is the meal that was made with the chicken, that was cut with the knife, that is in the draw that holds the cutlery in the kitchen, in the house called home.

Ethically, there are always good and bad parts of cooking dinner such as eating (good) and cleaning up (bad) which i am sure everyone agrees with me on! Sometimes it can feel like a job and sometimes it can feel relaxing and invigorating. Cleaning, paying for the ingredients, finding out you have got the wrong ingredients, and cutting some foods for example, onions can feel like a burden however the joys of eating and preparing something everybody enjoys over rides this making most cooking experiences enjoyable for me!

Memories are one component of my cooking that are really evident. One memory that really stands out for me in relation to cooking is a certain spoon in our cutlery draw. When we had our pet cat we had a special spoon for her cat food which we would never eat from just in case! Whenever I come across this spoon or someone picks it out accidently it reminds me of our cat which brings back good memories! Another memory is smells in the kitchen. There is a lamb and vegetable salad I make every now and then which has rosemary and other spices on it, whenever I smell these it reminds me of this meal and where I first made it!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


According to Hagedorn, (2000), Affordance is 'anything which the environment can offer the individual which is pertinent to the role challenge and can facilitate role competence'.

In light of this quote, I believe affordance is an important component of ergonomics in the way that it links a specific activity (cooking) with another activity, allowing us to make connections to factors such as spirituality, ethics, communication and memories that all play a part in my specific activity. From my personal experience of cooking I have identified that there is definitely a partnership between my family and I, and also a caring component as we have to be organised and think about the times everyone will be at home. There is also respect shown as I understand the importance of relaxing after a hard day of work and having dinner cooked for you. Moral sense is also an important factor, I do this by making sure I turn off the oven, washing dishes after cooking and washing my hands before touching any food.

Communication within the kitchen is a non-verbal sense of communication however if a family member is in the kitchen with me there is a verbal relationship. The primary relationship involved in the activity is parent / child and in some ways tutor / learner as if I am making a meal that is new to me I often ask my parents questions which allows me to learn from them.
There is definitely a spiritual side to my cooking, when I am organised and relaxed I can enjoy preparing, making and experimenting with new meals and take in the environment around me. Visser, (1986) quotes an interesting point; "as soon as we can count on a food supply (and so take food for granted), not a moment sooner, we start to civilise ourselves". I feel a strong connection to this quote as I believe in our society today food is something we take for granted and it is nice to stop, think and realise how special our food really is. I gain inspiration through magazines, recipe books and my mother as I love to learn to cook some meals that she makes especially her lemon cake and ouzo salad yum!



Hagedorn, R. (2000). Tools for Practice in Occupational Therapy: A Structured Approach to Core Skills and Processes. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone

Visser, (1986). Much Depends on Dinner. New York: Grove Press

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


This is my second blog for the semester focusing on the activity of cooking. It will be based around ergonomics. Enjoy :)

Pheasant (1986) defines ergonomics as "the scientific study of human beings in relation to their working environments". The main factors around ergonomics are the interrelationships of person, environment and the activities the person participates in. As occupational therapists we are often called upon to make decisions about whether the competence of an individual has shifted in regard to their preferred and habitual activities.

In relation to my activity of cooking, I can make links to ergonomics as it influences the way I cook and view cooking. I have been continuing to try new recipes and put more effort into my meals. I do try to make meals that everybody in my family enjoys eating however we are all busy people and get home at different hours of the afternoon. We all make an effort to accommodate for this to make sure everybody gets dinner. When we have just been shopping and have fresh vegetables and delicious food to prepare I tend to have more time and am more adventurous when I cook. It really does depend on what is bought at the supermarket and what seasonal foods are cheap to what is made for dinner. It is common in our household that if there is little options or the day has dragged on, a quick easy meal is the best choice. Personally I feel that cooking is labour but has components of work linked within it as it is something I have to do to feed my family. However, I enjoy having that role/responsibility and it doesn't always feel like a chore as I get great satisfaction out of making a nice meal! According to Creek & Lawson-Porter (2007), "work requires self-investment, skill, craft and personal judgement. Work is purposeful and meaningful". It can also create community for me and my family as we help each other out with chopping the vegetables or whatever the task may be which is a time we can ask how each other's day went.


Creek, J., & Lawson-Porter, A. (Eds.). (2007). Contemporary Issues in Occupational Therapy. Chichester. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Hagedorn (2000). Tools for Practice in Occupational Therapy: A Structured Approach to Core Skills and Processes. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone

Thursday, 8 September 2011

PIO 2: Mindfulness

Activity: Cooking
In PIO 2 the main occupational activity I will be focusing on is cooking dinner. The purpose of this post is to introduce and share my previous experiences of cooking, being mindful while cooking and how cooking relates to occupational therapy. I will touch on how cooking can be used in occupational therapy and examples of how cooking can be hindered for my own personal cooking experiences. According to Baer, (2006), "mindfulness enriches the experience of the moment and brings new, accurate information about yourself and the world to life"

Preparing and cooking dinner is something I have recently started having more input into. Previously I have prepared and cooked basic meals such as pasta, salads etc however I am now starting to experiment with more complex meals/dishes. Since coming back from Wellington for my course placement I have gained more independence in cooking as I was cooking most nights and having to think ahead for the day. I am interested in learning how to make more recipies and I have made a starting point by buying a recipie book and I am writing recipies I like and collecting cut outs and recipies from magazines and newspapers.

Cooking dinner can be enjoyable but can also sometimes feel like a chore. When I have succeeded in making a dinner meal I feel proud of my achievements and it is a nice way of helping out around the home. Cooking can also be relaxing especially when it is a nice evening and you are preparing a barbeque or outdoor meal.

How cooking can be used in occupational therapy
As preparing and cooking dinner for one or ones family is a huge part of daily occupation, to lose this ability can be a huge personal loss. Meaningful occupation is the main focus in occupational therapy, when a client needs to work on their motor and processing skills, cooking mindfully and focusing on making a meal can be a helpful and meaningful intervention technique for improving these skills. Cooking can also be a therapeutic intervention for clients and can work as a way of relaxing or improving confidence in getting back into their meaningful occupation.

Cooking mindfully (expanding your thoughts around a specific activity) could be hindered by time constraints, availability of food, distractions such as children, short attention span, visitors etc. If I have decided to make a meal with meat in it I will get it out of the freezer to let it thaw for the day however, I sometimes either do not have time or forget to do this so I will compensate and make a meal that doesn't require any preparation.


Baer, R. (Ed.). (2006). Mindfulness Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and Applications. United States of America: Elsevier Inc.