Why is Recreation So Important? ~ NSRPH Week 2010


Recreation is an essential service for Health and Wellness.

Functional Intervention: to maintain and/or improve functional abilities, enhance well-being and facilitate independence.
Leisure education: to teach or enhance recreation skills and attitudes that can be used throughout life.
Recreation Participation: to promote health and growth

Recreation services and leisure experiences help people with physical, cognitive, social or emotional limitations make the most of their lives.

Recreation Is…

  • Empowering
  • Dynamic
  • Treatment, Education & Purposeful Recreation
  • Fun
  • For People with Unique Leisure Needs
  • About Quality of Life
  • Facilitating Leisure Lifestyles
  • Practiced by Recreation Professionals
  • About Mind, Body, and Spirit
  • Important to Know About

"Recreation is the foundation of care, and every event, encounter, or exchange with an individual is an activity."

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel..." - anonymous

"The word recreation really is a very beautiful word. It is defined in the dictionary as the process of giving new life to something, of refreshing something, or restoring something. This something, of course, is the whole person." - Hans Geba




Benefits of Therapeutic Recreation

Through participation in Therapeutic Recreational Activities, Residents and Patients in health-care facilities may experience the following:

Improved Cognitive Skills

Improved Physical Skills

Ability to follow simple directions
Improved communication
Improved interpersonal skills
Decision making opportunities
Improved attention span
Heightened sensory awareness
Heightened environmental awareness
Improved ability to make needs known
Improved memory skills
Improved self-expression

Improved fine/gross motor skills
Increased endurance
Increased mobility and range of motion
Improved hand/eye coordination
Improved ADL skills/body awareness
Increased strength and flexibility
Improved sleep patterns
Improved skin integrity
Improved appetite
Decreased incontinence
Decreased use of pain medications

Improved Emotional Well-Being

Decrease in Behavioural Problems

Increased socialization
Increased motivation
Opportunity for creative expression
Increased self-esteem
Increased confidence
Decreased depression
Decreased boredom
Utilization of stress management skills
Decreased Learned Helplessness

Sundown Syndrome
Repetitive motions
Yelling and screaming
Abusive behaviour
Use of physical restraints
Use of chemical restraints




As a Family Member,
how can I help meet the recreation needs of my Loved One?

  1. Visit and talk with them.
  2. Stroll in or outdoors.
  3. Sit with them in the garden area.
  4. Read to them.
  5. Bring magazines and other reading material to them if appropriate.
  6. Provide yarn and encourage them if they are able to crochet.
  7. Play cards/checkers with those who can.
  8. Help them put a puzzle together.
  9. Bring pictures and non-valuable momentos for their room.
  10. Make a photo album of family pictures and reminisce using it (let activity staff know it is in their drawer so we can utilize it on visits as well)
  11. Make a scrapbook or photo album of magazine pictures of their past interests, food likes, etc. Use that for reminiscing also.
  12. Make videos/cassettes, especially of family events or from out-of-town family. Recreation staff can take a VCR/DVD player to their room for viewing/listening.
  13. Encourage them to attend and participate in facility group activities. A large wall calendar of activities is located in the main lounge. Family members may also join/escort their loved one at any time.
  14. Write letters/cards for them. Provide stationary & stamps if they are able to write themselves.
  15. Read the newspaper to them and discuss headlines, Dear Abby, etc.
  16. Bring flowers and plants if they like those.
  17. Decorate the room for holidays.
  18. Host a family party/event at the facility so your loved one can join in. The OT/Quiet rooms are available for your use with advance notice.



Purpose of Therapeutic Recreation and Activities

  1. To promote and enhance quality of life
  2. To offer activities that are meaningful to each resident
  3. To enhance or maintain cognitive abilities
  4. To enhance or maintain physical abilities
  5. To promote emotional and psychosocial well-being
  6. To provide opportunity for socialization
  7. To offer opportunity for creative expression
  8. To offer opportunity for decision making, choice, and responsibility
  9. To offer opportunity for religious or spiritual expression
  10. To offer solace and relaxation
  11. To provide opportunity for fun, pleasure, and enjoyment
  12. To offer opportunity to share common interests, cultures, and experiences
  13. To promote independence and decreased learned helplessness
  14. To provide opportunity to learn new skills, adapt old skills, and enjoy new leisure experiences



Top Ten Reasons
for Residents to Attend Recreation Programs

  1. Recreation assists in improving social skills.
  2. Recreation assists in increasing communication skills.
  3. Recreation assists in increasing passive and active range of motion.
  4. Recreation assists in decreasing stress and agitation.
  5. Recreation assists in decreasing the amount of falls for certain residents.
  6. Recreation assists in decreasing the amount of medications for certain residents.
  7. Recreation assists in decreasing signs and symptoms of depression.
  8. Recreation assists in decreasing confusion and inappropriate behaviors.
  9. Recreation assists in increasing self-ambulation.
  10. Increased recreation decreases the amount of supervision needed on the units for nursing.



Recreation: More Than Just Bingo

Recreation: The Other Best Medicine
Therapeutic Recreation: Re-Creating, Mind, Body and Spirit

  • Host a breakfast, luncheon, or dinner for the Recreation Department
  • Bring Recreation Staff out for a meal
  • Have a surprise party
  • Have a Guess Who Baby Picture Contest
  • Have a Who’s Who in the Recreation Dept. Contest
  • Have a Department Heads Facilitate Recreation Day
  • Have a “Best Theme Event Contest". Invite staff, residents, and family to offer ideas for theme events. The contestants must give ideas for decorations, food, costumes/apparel, music, etc. Winner receives a prize and the chance to plan/facilitate the event.

  • Have residents vote and give awards or certificates for various categories such as:
    • Most Creative Recreation Professional
    • Most Energetic Recreation Professional
    • Most Compassionate Recreation Professional
    • Recreation Professional Who Smiles the Most
    • Funniest Recreation Professional

Many long-term care staff, family members, visitors, and even residents, lack a thorough knowledge of the importance and benefits of programs in a health-care environment. Therefore it is extremely important for the Recreation Department to market, promote, and educate others. Hosting an annual “Recreation Fair” is a great way to promote the Recreation Department, and boost staff morale, teamwork, and have fun.

  • Commit to hosting the Recreation Fair each year during NSRPH Week.
  • Months in advance, set up a Recreation Fair committee. The committee should be made up of Recreation personnel and anyone else that may wish to assist such as Volunteers, Residents, Marketing Department, etc.
  • Begin advertising at least a month prior. Advertising may include the facility or corporate newsletter, flyers, posters, send emails, etc. Make sure that all management is aware of the upcoming fair.
  • Discuss the possibility of it becoming a Mandatory In-service for all facility staff. Host the event in the largest room available. The more space, the better.
  • Create a variety of booths such as: Physical Games and Exercise, Sensory Stimulation, Music, Cognitive Activities, Creative Activities, Adapting Activities, Committees, Leisure Education, etc. Be sure to have an “Interdisciplinary Approach to Quality of Life” booth that demonstrates the CMS Activity Guidance to Surveyors. “
  • Each booth may have printed materials, a storyboard explaining the purpose, benefits, etc., sample equipment, and a game or contest.
  • Have a “Who’s Who” in the Recreation Department Contest.
  • Hand out raffle tickets for each contest, game or activity to those who participate. Have a variety raffle prizes such as mugs, t-shirts, pens, etc.
  • Make sure that all participants sign in at the door. Download FREE Sign in Sheet
  • Schedule the event to include as many shifts as possible such as 10:00am-5:00pm. You should even do a smaller one for the 11pm-7am shift if it becomes a mandatory facility in-service.
  • Various storyboard materials.




Physical Games and Exercise

Basketball, Bowling, Toss games (create a physical impairment such as blindfolding the participant)

Display a  variety of adapted physical games such as toss games, basketball, bowling, golf, etc, and exercise equipment such as scarves, ribbons, therabands, parachute, etc.


Karaoke Contest or Name That Tune

Karaoke Machine, sample music

Cognitive Activities

Trivia Contest, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune

Display a variety of trivia books, discussion materials, word games, etc.

Creative Activities

Craft project, gardening project, etc

Display various craft supplies and adapted equipment

Parlour Games

Bingo, Horseracing, Black Jack

Display various bingo cards, adapted chips, card shuffler, and large print playing cards. Pokeno, Horseracing, etc.

Sensory Stimulation

Give a hand massage, have participants guess various aromas

Display multi-sensory equipment such as bubble towers, projectors, light sprays, aroma therapy, various tactile equipment, etc. Flaghouse provides a free SNOEZELEN CD that can be played.

Leisure Education

Play Leisure Bingo, have participants fill out a self-leisure assessment

Have variety of Leisure education materials such as a list of all the activities the Activity Department offers and the benefits of the activities or create an “Introduction to the Activity Department” Manual” that describes the role of the Activity Department and the various programs offered.



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