RECREATION SPECIALIST/THERAPIST ROLE
- Conduct a specialised recreation assessment and written report of individual client’s recreational and leisure interests, needs, skills and potential abilities
- Provide client and family with information on appropriate individual and group recreation and leisure options considering individual’s ability
- Work with families to support client and family recreation and leisure options
- If appropriate work with client and pre-accident friends to support them to stay involved with the client and provide natural support network
- Link in with mainstream community based services or sporting groups or specialised groups for people with disabilities
- Assess and review the support needed to enable a client to participate in chosen community based recreation/leisure activities including individual and shared care
- Train support workers to provide on-going support to client as directed by Recreation Specialist
- Assess client’s needs to become as independent as possible in chosen recreation and leisure pursuits
- Enhancing peer support networks
- Enhancing social networks
“Research shows that therapeutic recreation makes a positive contribution to one’s overall health and well-being. In addition to providing avenues for exercise and self-expression, therapeutic recreation also provides the opportunity for individuals to interact, take risks, develop self-esteem, establish life roles, and learn new skills in a safe, structured, non-threatening environment.” (Skyland Trail 2004, p1)
We focus on assessing individual needs and goals and endeavour to develop a recreation/social program, which will be on-going, sustainable and will modify to meet the client’s changing needs. We also have a strong belief that clients should participate in activities as independently as possible.
Clients are assessed and supported to pursue their interests with appropriate support. Ideally, if possible, this support is established through the community. This may be through linking the client with a volunteer from a mainstream community based club, providing initial support to the client and then monitoring participation, providing education to club members regarding the client’s needs to successfully participate. It is acknowledged that often there is a need for paid support to enable our clients to reach their goals which we assist in setting up.
OUR KNOWLEDGE & EXPERIENCE
- Extensive knowledge and experience in community-based recreation, active pursuits and sport for people with disabilities
- Excellent relationships with mainstream and specialised community-based recreation and sport providers developed over many years
- Creative and innovative approaches increasing recreation and leisure options for our clients
- Complex holiday planning
- Many years of experience working with complex individuals and families
- Years of innovative development of new Recreation Programs e.g. involved in the initial development of many groups for people with disabilities, including programs for people with acquired brain injuries, target shooting for people disabilities, water skiing, karate, fishing etc.
- On-going strong community partnerships to develop new recreation options. e.g. scuba diving for people with disabilities, rideability (horse riding) programs, snow skiing/snowboarding with DWA
We have expertise with people with a range of disabilities including:
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Orthopaedic Injuries
- Chronic Pain
- Brachial Plexus Injuries
- Congenital disabilities
We work with clients who are funded by:
- Work Cover
- NDIS (self or plan managed)
- Senior Masters Office
- Private Funding
EXAMPLES OF OUR WORK
INDIVIDUAL ASSESSMENT & SUPPORT
Often people with disabilities don’t have the experience, understanding or confidence to be able to choose activities easily, therefore we assess the individuals needs and interests and support them to explore and trial identified activities so they can make informed choices about activities based on real-life experience.
We have found that although many organisations, communities and clubs generally welcome people with disabilities, inclusion often doesn’t happen easily because the person with a disability needs support to get involved. It is difficult for anyone to join a new group, particularly a person who might experience anxiety and doesn’t have the self-confidence, experience, or social skills (or challenging behaviour) to successfully become a member of an organisation, community and/or club. We work with the individual and relevant parties to assess the client’s needs in that environment and address the person’s individual needs and challenges to ensure the best chance of successful inclusion.
We also assess the support needs within that group, i.e. chosen individual members, volunteer support, paid support (ongoing or possibly for trial period and reduced if possible).
A few examples:
- Organised for individuals to join their local lawn bowls club, some using specially designed bowling arm
- Organised for individuals to join competitive wheelchair sports such as wheelchair basketball, rugby, football and softball
- Introduced an individual to wheelchair tennis, he now plays competitively at a high level
- Organised for individuals to join competitive powered wheelchair sports such as powered wheelchair hockey, rugby and football
- Organised and trained volunteers (music students from local university) to spend time with man who was a violin teacher prior to an accident. He isn’t able to cope with a large orchestra so the only time he is happy is when he is playing the violin with the students
- Assisted in planning and setting up a specific karate group for people with an acquired brain injury
- Assisted in planning and creating a specific target shooting group for people with disabilities
- Supported individuals to join in local men’s sheds, this involved attending trials and identifying and sourcing suitable projects that they can do safely and to their skill level. Also spent time liaising with and providing appropriate information to relevant people at the men’s shed about the individuals support needs and behaviour.
- Organised an individual to join a specialised athletics program which led to them to competing in the Paralympics
- Organised for a number of individuals to explore and trial cycling and obtain funding for specialised cycles such as hand cycles and recumbent trikes, to cycle with friends and family, some also joining cycling clubs and undertaking charity rides.
- Organised for an individual with vision impairment to trial and obtain a tandem bike, she and her husband ride every weekend and even cycled when on a trip to Europe.
- Supported a number of individuals (including a mouth painter) to join mainstream art classes.
- Supported many individuals to plan and organise individual holidays (with and without support) to destinations of their choice (worldwide). Assist in exploring accessible accommodation needs, accessible activity/tourist attractions, appropriate travel options (e.g. flights and transfers), creating a budget and liaison with funding bodies, financial administrators, accommodation and travel providers etc.
- Supported many individuals to identify, plan and organise group holiday options both mainstream and disability specific.
SETTING UP ATTENDANT CARE PROGRAMS, TRAINING AND MONITORING OF ATTENDANT CARE PROGRAMS FOR COMMUNITY ACCESS, RECREATION AND LEISURE
Often there are attendant care programs set up for people with disabilities to support them to access the community. It is important that these programs are properly assessed and set up well to really meet the individuals needs without limiting their independence. We work with the individual, family, funding body, therapy treating team members and attendant care agency to assess programs to ensure it is effectively supporting the individual to enjoy a better quality of life through participation in quality recreation options of their choice.
A lot of our work involves assessing, managing and reviewing these programs to ensure the attendant care agency and individual support workers on the program are aware of their role, boundaries and receive training in relation to the individual’s recreation and community access goals.
The Process is:
- When we have conducted the specialised assessment, have built rapport with the individual and have together made a plan for their recreation/community access program, we work with agencies to select support worker/s with specific skills to support the client
- We provide training and written material if necessary regarding the individual and the program and the support workers role in the program
- We help set-up, structure and document weekly programs taking into account all other daily activities, management of fatigue, family issues etc.
- If necessary we work with the individual and therapy treating team to develop a system to ensure the individual is able to choose their own activities, e.g. using visual aides, providing limited choice etc.
- We endeavour to address logistical issues that impact on the program including behaviour, access, travel, finances etc.
- We train the support worker not to “take over”, enabling the individual to develop their own relationship with members of the group, only intervening if necessary.
In some cases it is appropriate that people with disabilities trial group and/or day programs specifically for people with disabilities. There are a range of options, it is important that the group is assessed as suitable for the person, meeting social and recreational needs/goals. We work closely with the group providers in relation to our client’s needs and interests.
LINKING PEOPLE TOGETHER
We recognise that quality social interaction is important for everyone, we all choose who we socialise with and so we try and match people together who function at a similar social level and have similar interests. Everyone forms friendships based on interests and personality.
We work with people and assess all aspects of a holiday, to enable them to go on the holiday of their choice within their budget and with appropriate support. This might involve going away with 1:1 support, joining group mainstream and disability specific holidays with support if needed, also some with shared support. We have meaningful relationships with many providers of organised trips specifically for people with disabilities, which suit some but not all individuals.
A few examples:
- Organised for an individual with an acquired brain injury to go on a mainstream ‘Central Australia’ tour with their support worker. Enabled him to pursue his love of ‘the outback’ and socialise/make friendships with others with similar interest etc.
- Organised for a group of men who had an interest in golf to go on “blokes golf trip” with shared support. There have been many of these trips as the men all want to keep returning. We have an arrangement with the golf club for unlimited free golf, they also go fishing and whatever else they choose to do. We select the support workers carefully to ensure they have the skills and experience to make these holidays very successful.
- Organised a group ‘social’ holiday. This is a new holiday concept in response to participants wanting to be involved in a social holiday but not have to spend lots of time with a group of people who they may or may not know, as in a ‘group’ holiday. All participants attend with their own support worker/s so they can chose to join in group activities or choose to spend some time on their own. Everyone is encouraged to do what provide options for socialising.
- Organise a yearly Leisure Balance ‘snow ski/board’ camp for interested and suitable participants in conjunction with Disabled Wintersports Australia (DWA).
- Organise for individuals to go on appropriate cruises every year.
- Organised for a client to return home to Vietnam with a support worker to visit family.
- Organised for children with a disability to participate in a mainstream camp
- Organised for children to attend camps for children with disabilities.
We often assess and support our clients to trial and participate in volunteer work, with or without support. For many people who are unable to work, they can feel really valued and respected by participating as a volunteer. Often, if required they have a paid support worker with them.
- Volunteer speaking for a variety of organisations where the individual shares their story and accounts of their disability/accident to education programs, community and school groups
- Volunteer to become role models and provide peer to peer support to others
- A number of our clients volunteer at Aged Care facilities, roles include providing companionship for aged care residents and being involved in the aged care recreation and lifestyle programs, i.e. calling bingo, painting, Wii Fit games etc.
- One client sings and performs to residents at a local nursing home
- One client volunteers at a cat shelter assisting in caring for the cats and seeking community donations
- We have supported a number of clients to volunteer at local Op Shops, some with support, others over time have been able to work without support
- One man is a volunteer with the local football club as a runner
We have a strong belief that, as families are such an important part of the person’s life, it is important that they can “have fun” together as well as care for the client. Sometimes this is challenging and daunting so they require some support.
- We run “Family and Friends” dinners, which is a chance for people so socialise, meet others with disabilities, family members also socialise with others who understand some of the issues they deal with daily. Friendships have developed from these evenings.