February is Therapeutic Recreation Month!

by E.L, Placement Student

Therapeutic Recreation Month, held during the month of February, honours the healthcare professionals that use research and therapeutic processes to assist patients in achieving their goals and highest quality of life. (Yang, 2018) Recreational Therapy assists in maintaining each resident's sense of meaning and purpose and their capacity for happiness, relationality, self-determination, and autonomy. (Therapeutic Recreation Ontario) For older adults living in long-term care facilities, participating in recreational therapy improves mental and physical health. (Yang, Yijian, et al, 2018. p. 1) I initially believed that the term 'therapy' referred solely to the treatment of sports injuries; however, my research revealed that it encompasses a broader range of applications, including therapeutic processes for individuals residing in long-term care facilities.

Florence Nightingale is widely acknowledged as the pioneer of therapeutic recreation in the 1850s, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of individuals. The Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association established the principles of ethical codes and standards of practice in 1996. Recreational Therapy promotes mobility among older adults living in long-term care by implementing activities that include painting, music, dance, trivia games, puzzles, and pet therapy into their routine. Therapeutic Recreation Ontario’s blueprint shows that therapeutic recreation is essential in long-term homes. (Yang, 2018)

The Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 (FLTCA) was enacted to regulate Ontario's long-term care home sector, replacing the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (LTCHA), which was repealed on the same day. The FLTCA states that (3) “The licensee shall ensure that the plan of care covers all aspects of care, including medical, nursing, personal support, mental health, nutritional, dietary, recreational, social, palliative, restorative, religious and spiritual care.” 14 (1) “states that “every licensee of a long-term care home shall ensure that there is an organized program of recreational and social activities for the home to meet the interests of the residents.” (Law document, 2021)

Therapeutic Recreation professionals are trained to understand the mental, physical, psychological, spiritual, and social domains of residents with diverse needs and abilities. They work with long-term care residents to develop plans that support the resident’s strengths and needs to ensure their quality of life. (Therapeutic Recreation Ontario) The benefits of Therapeutic Recreation in Long-Term Care facilities include maintaining continuity through valued activities and learning new skills, reducing boredom, loneliness, and depression, and reducing anxiety through non-pharmacological interventions.

Before my research, I was unaware of Therapeutic Recreation Month. Despite limited information on its celebration, increased communication and advocacy among healthcare professionals can significantly promote recreational therapy in long-term care homes.


Law document English view. Ontario.ca. (2018, November 19). Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.Ontario.ca/laws/statute/21f39

Marcello, C. (2022, February 4). Recreational therapy month 2022. Humber River Hospital. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.hrh.ca/2022/02/08/recreational-therapy-month- 2022.

National Therapeutic Recreation Month. National Today. (2022, May 11). Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://nationaltoday.com/national-therapeutic-recreation-month/

Therapeutic Recreation Ontario: A blueprint to combat LTC residents’ helplessness, loneliness and boredom. TRO. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.trontario.org/about/tro-advocacy.html

Yang, Y., van Schooten, K. S., Symes, B., Sims-Gould, J., McKay, H., Leung, P.-M., Feldman, F., & Robinovitch, S. N. (2018, May). Recreation Therapy to Promote Mobility Among Older Adults in Long-Term Care. Ontario Long Term Care Association. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://oltca.com/OLTCA/

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