In February, Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month recognizes allied health care professionals who use leisure activities to promote the health, emotional well-being and to improve the quality of life of people living with a disability or who are chronically ill.
At Providence Transitional Care Centre (PTCC), Recreation Therapists are making a difference for patients by providing meaningful therapeutic recreation activities including social interactions, exercise programs, opportunities to share knowledge and opinions and to engage in creative processes and inspirational programming.
For 77-year-old Anna, being transferred to PTCC after a fall at home and short stay at Kingston General Hospital, was quite unnerving. Residing in an apartment building, Anna had access to a supportive community of peers and a variety of tools to be creative at home. She says having access to similar activities while in the hospital has drastically helped her recovery and healing journey.
“Getting together with others is so therapeutic for me. And thanks to Gabrielle, there’s something going on for us almost every day,” says Anna, whose nerves settled upon arrival.
Anna is referring to Gabrielle Noonan, a Recreation Therapist at PTCC. “We want to give our patients the opportunity to use leisure as a tool in their lives; whether through giving back to the community, spending time on their holistic wellness or using it as a positive and meaningful outlet for their time,” explains Gabrielle.
Working alongside Recreation Therapist Braelyn Vinkle, the duo is responsible for organizing activities for patients at the 60 bed transitional care centre. Anna is a regular participant no matter the activity. She has assisted in multiple clothing drives, cat toy making for the Kingston Humane Society, painting pumpkins, making jewelry, playing trivia and bingo and much more. Most recently, Anna helped create 75 homemade Valentines for Veterans Affairs Canada who distributed them to residents in long-term care homes around the country.
“I can’t imagine landing anywhere else. We are so looked after here. I’ve made many friends and Gabrielle keeps us busy with her workshops and things to do,” states Anna.
As Anna prepares to return home, it’s not goodbye. A wish she had when she first arrived at PTCC is becoming a reality, with additional provincial funding for the Providence Care Transitions Home Program. This pilot program aims to enhance a patient’s continuity of care through extending therapy services from hospital into the community.
The program creates a seamless and safe transition home and, therefore, enhances the patient and family experience and also reduces length of stay in hospital settings.
Healthcare professionals including Physiotherapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), PT/OT Assistants, Recreation Therapists and Behaviour Technologists will provide continuous holistic care from PTCC to the community. Services include pre-discharge home safety assessment, transitional home support and in-home care services.
One of the first times Anna connected with Gabrielle, she asked if a workshop could be organized for her tight-knit community after she returned home. Now, thanks to the new pilot, Gabrielle will continue providing recreation therapy activities for Anna to support her transition home.
“Going home is a huge step for me. I am excited and a little bit scared. It does comfort me to know that Gabrielle will be following me home,” shares Anna. “I am a firm believer in living for the day. Who knows what is going to happen, especially at my age,” she continues.
Best of luck, Anna, in your transition home and happy Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month to the many dedicated staff and volunteers at Providence Care who provide therapeutic activities each and every day.