Reality vs. Facade – Issue #1

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Life Enrichment, Activation, Programs, and Recreation are the titles given to individuals in the Recreation field, specifically in Long-Term Care facilities. This can be very confusing for families searching for that special home to care for their loved ones.

First, let’s look at what this profession does in long-term care:The written words are to provide Social, Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and Intellectual programs for the Residents in the facility. We are the individuals who program to the needs, abilities, and challenges of our Residents. We think and do in ‘holistic’ terms. Some consider us the ‘cruise directors’ of the facility, the shiny happy people, and, the profession with the easiest job. But, we are much much more. We are the psychologists listening to all the issues a resident needs to verbalize (without recourse). We are the dieticians serving food and drink at our events, we are the p.s.w.’s on outings in the community, we (in some facilities) are the Class F licenced drivers, we are the personal trainers during our exercise programs, we are the teachers during our intellectual, reminiscence, and emotional programs. We are the entertainers, dancers, singers, and comedians, we are the documentarians… I think you may be understanding a little bit more about what we do…

Now let us look at the minimal Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term care requirement ratio of recreation staff to residents in facilities… 1:60 (yes that’s not a typo). 1 full time staff member to 60 Residents… I hope your thoughts are now going to that place of ‘what’??? Let me also tell you that the average salary is 18.50/hour. The majority of recreation staff have attended 2 years of college and some have 4 years of university behind them. But it must be noted that there are those in the field who were grandfathered in prior to the long-term care act revision of 2007. As the ‘boomers’ are approaching the ‘age of aquarius’ (ok so I just wanted to write that out), the Ministry is NOT up to speed for the proper ratio to program to individuals in long-term care. The facilities are now encountering younger Residents and more suffering from Dementia, specifically of the Alzheimer’s type. The current predicament?  When there is not enough staff, danger can occur to both residents and staff.

It is now time for the Life Enrichment, Activation, Programs, and Recreation profession take a stand. Our profession,  just like the nursing profession, is burning out. We must be our own advocates and make a few waves, rather than riding them, otherwise, it will be a bleak future for all.

Lastly… let’s begin by having ONE title for what we do… not 4…

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