Pegasus skilled nursing care specialists in Thousand Oaks and elsewhere strive to improve the overall well-being of their patients. Their care encompasses emotional, mental, and physical health. That’s why understanding therapeutic recreation is important in your role as a home health care nurse.
Therapeutic recreation, also known as recreation therapy, is using leisure activities as treatment. It’s a science-based modality that improves your patient’s quality of life. They are able to develop or restore skills that increase their pleasure of being alive.
The therapy is more than going out and having fun, although there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead, the activities are planned to achieve specific goals. Everything is highly customized to fit each individual.
The goals of therapeutic recreation include maintaining, improving, or restoring cognition, mobility, or physical strength. Psychological health is also emphasized. It’s usually all part of a rehabilitation process.
An important aspect of therapeutic recreation is defining good health as more than not having an illness. It’s a way to resume enjoying life despite medical conditions. The therapy is beneficial to individuals of all ages, including those with:
- Developmental disorders
- Physical disabilities
- Psychiatric disorders
- Spinal cord injuries
- Substance abuse disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
It also helps individuals with their recovery from a stroke, hospitalization, or surgery.
Recreational Therapy Is Based On An Individual’s Interests
The therapy begins with discovering the individual’s interests. Therapeutic activities are then designed around those interests. In some instances, your patients develop new interests that help them live satisfying lives.
No two therapy plans are alike. That means almost any activity can be used to help individuals in their rehabilitation and recovery efforts. Examples include:
- Art, dance, drama, and music
- Board, video, and sports games
- Interacting with animals
- Storytelling or writing
Therapeutic recreation is successful because the health goals and therapy plan are based on what the person enjoys doing. That helps keep them motivated and willing to comply with the treatment.
In addition to meeting therapeutic goals, individuals often experience other benefits. Self-esteem and self-confidence are improved for many. Some are able to increase their social connections and bonding with others.
Sometimes your home health care patients don’t have a specific condition that requires rehabilitation or recovery. Some may believe that they are too old or too frail to participate in fun activities. Others need assistance in emerging from the pandemic lockdown.
You may have lonely patients who have outlived their friends. Some individuals are depressed. Others can’t put their finger on why they have lost all motivation and enjoyment of life.
Individuals Experience Multiple Areas Of Improvement
Your interview skills may be tested when trying to discover what therapeutic activities will benefit your patients. You might have to try more than one kind of recreational activity to improve their quality of life. The list of potential improvements is lengthy, but some examples are:
- Increased ability to:
- Express themselves creatively
- Manage stress
- Range of motion
- Hand-eye coordination
- Strength and flexibility
- Learned helplessness
- Need for pain medications
Therapeutic recreation benefits cognitively impaired individuals as well. You may need to talk to family members to learn what they enjoyed doing when they were well. With even limited activities, individuals with dementia can experience improvements that include:
- Ability to communicate
- Attention span
- Awareness of surroundings
- “Sundowning” and wandering
- Repetitive motions
Include the family caregivers in your healthcare assessment. Especially those who are full-time caregivers may have overlooked caring for themselves. You can arrange Pegasus respite care for them.
The break gives them an opportunity to engage in their own therapeutic recreational activity. Their stress is reduced, benefitting both them and their loved one.
Recreational Therapy Differs From Other Therapies
Your Pegasus team may include occupational and physical therapists. At times, one or both of those therapists may be involved in treating your patients. Although there is some overlap, their methods and goals differ from recreational therapy.
An occupational therapist helps individuals with the activities of daily living. Their patients may be relearning skills lost to disability or illness. They may suggest different ways of accomplishing tasks or changing the home environment to make tasks easier.
A physical therapist is primarily concerned with movement. They design exercises that increase mobility and lessen pain. They also strive to increase an individual’s strength as a way of preventing injuries.
As a busy home healthcare nurse, you can become vulnerable to burnout. Because you have compassion for those for whom you care, it’s easy to forego self-care.
Take the time to evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses. Then arrange appropriate therapeutic recreation activities for yourself. You, your patients, and your family will benefit.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our experts provide skilled nursing care in Thousand Oaks and our other locations. As a home healthcare nurse, your understanding of the importance of therapeutic recreation improves the quality of life of patients.