Celebrating Recreation and Diversional Therapy Week

February 15, 2024

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Celebrating Recreation and Diversional Therapy Week

This Recreation and Diversional Therapy Week, we want to shine a spotlight on all our dedicated and hardworking Recreational Therapists and Lifestyle Teams and say thank you for the incredible work and invaluable contributions they make to our communities.

We asked Monika Williams (photographed with her dog Bruno), one of our newest Recreational Therapists from Greystanes, for her insights into the profound impact Diversional and Recreational Therapy can make in aged care.

1.    What drew you to pursue a career in Recreational Therapy?

I'd tried a few different careers at university and decided that I wanted something that was rewarding, and that provided me with a range of opportunities at my fingertips! This is when I looked into studying Recreational Therapy and knew that this was what I would pursue and build a career in.

2.    What attracted you to work in residential care, and what's the best aspect of it?

When I first graduated from high school, I worked as a care worker in residential aged care. From my first week doing this, aged care became such a big passion of mine. When I started studying and learned that Recreational Therapists worked in the residential aged care space, I knew I had chosen the right career. The best aspect is that I'm lucky enough to work in these residents' homes and be a part of their everyday lives while helping them achieve their goals – I cannot think of anything more rewarding.
My favourite quote is: "Our residents do not live in our workplace; we work in their homes."

3.    What are some of the activities or programs you've implemented or would like to implement? 

I have so many ideas, and the list goes on! The first ones that come to mind are cooking classes, starting some vegetable pods in one of our back gardens, knitting groups, book club, intergenerational programs, music therapy, and art therapy. In saying this, though, it all comes down to what the residents want to do, and if they are happy, then so am I!

4.    Can you share a success story of a resident who has flourished through participation in Recreational Therapy activities?

I started a sketching class at one of my placements. The resident I was focusing on had a goal of increasing her participation in leisure activities after sadly being diagnosed with dementia. The minute she sat down, her drawing began to flourish; nothing was going to wipe the smile off her face. Once finished, she returned to her room, and we went around and showed the residents her drawing, and the compliments flowed! 
Her skill was truly incredible! I then implemented this activity weekly, and the resident was always involved, therefore reaching her goal! A kit was then also done up for her to be able to practice in her spare time, which boosted her overall well-being and mood, which was another big win!

5.    How do you support residents in feeling like active participants in shaping their day-to-day experiences?

It's all about getting involved and seeing the results for themselves on how much leisure participation shapes one's day-to-day experiences and enhances one's well-being. For some residents, adaptations may have to be made to the activities to gain this outcome. Sometimes, this may look like adapting equipment, making activities more physically accessible, or even changing group sizes so everyone feels comfortable and confident while participating in their chosen leisure activity!

6.    Are your friends surprised someone as young as you has decided to make a career in aged care?

I am not as young as I look! People often misjudge my age by about seven years! I am turning 27 this year! I suppose this is still young. 
 I think that the comments more came when I was just out of school in aged care, but all that I had to say back then was, "You will not understand unless you are here doing the work because this is the best environment I have ever worked in, and I wouldn't change it for the world!"

7.    This year's theme is 'Choice, Connection, Community', In what way do you incorporate these elements in your work? 

Leisure is always a choice. Once leisure does not become a choice, it is no longer leisure but a chore or a day-to-day task. I always encourage those to do what they want in terms of leisure and for them to keep in mind that what they do is for fun and to enhance their lives! 
Connection and community go hand in hand. With the activities at SCC, we have a lot of community connections, such as Bunnings and local schools and churches. 

8.    In your opinion, what role does Recreational Therapy play among elderly individuals?

Recreational Therapy enhances people's lives, gives individuals a sense of belonging and self-awareness, and gives them a safe environment to be themselves completely while reaching their goals one step at a time!
Recreational Therapy is a fantastic profession for older people and is super rewarding for us as well!

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