How Diversional Therapists are helping improve our residents’ experiences

How Diversional Therapists are helping improve our residents' experiences

To help develop the leisure programs our residents enjoy, team leader positions were created to provide scope, vision and support. Diversional Therapists have been gradually employed at our Homes. These new positions allow for qualified personnel to oversee the management of our Leisure & Lifestyle teams.

Sitting down with Ashburn House Diversional Therapist – Rachel Askew – we discover the passion, experience and memories that have been developed since working at Ashburn House. We also learn what’s involved in becoming a Diversional Therapist.

Q: How long have you been at Ashburn House? and why did you choose to work here?

Rachel: I started at Ashburn House in mid-May of 2019. I had been in my previous
role for quite some time and was ready for a change. My interview with Donna, the Director of Consumer Care & Services, and Jacki, the Diversional Therapy Consultant gave me an excitement to come and work at Ashburn House as I could broaden my skills as a Diversional Therapist.

Q: What experience and education do you bring to your Diversional Therapist position?

Rachel: I studied a Bachelor of Health Science, double majoring in Therapeutic Recreation and Health Services Management. I’ve been to conferences focusing on leisure and dementia, many workshops and have recently presented my first guest lecture at Western Sydney University on ‘Leisure in Long Term Care Facilities’.
I also lead the Sydney Aged Care Interest Network Group, where leisure and lifestyle professionals meet up every month to share new ideas, discuss challenges and network.
I worked in my previous position for over five years.

Q: What is one of your fondest memories working at Ashburn House?

Rachel: One of the first bus outings I went on was to see the ‘Archibald, Wynne & Sulman Prizes’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Everyone had a wonderful time and could not wipe the smiles off their faces. Taking residents out into the community is one of my favourite things. Q: How did you become the NSW State Representative for the Diversional and Recreation Therapy Australia Board?
Rachel: I’ve been a member of Diversional & Recreation Therapy Australia since I was at University. I noticed there was a gap in networking opportunities for leisure and lifestyle professionals working in aged care, particularly in Sydney, so I created the Sydney Aged Care Interest Network Group. When a position became available on the Board, the members of the group encouraged me to apply and nominated me for the position.

Q: What are some of your future planned activities for Ashburn House residents?

Rachel: Bondi Beach is almost fully accessible. Going to the beach is something a lot of residents used to love doing in the holidays. Beach matting and wheelchairs were recent additions at Bondi Beach, so we’d love to go there, dip our feet in the water and get an ice cream.

Q: What goes into organising an event such as Grandparent’s Day?

Rachel: A lot of planning and list writing! When we partnered with Henley Long
Day Care Centre, we saw how much the residents love intergenerational activities. Grandparent’s Day is held each year in October so we thought we could make an event out of it.
We invited all the families and friends of residents and played old fashioned games such as jump rope, sack races, snakes & ladders, egg & spoon races and a scavenger hunt. We try to plan events in advance so we have plenty of time for planning, ordering and figuring out plan B’s.

Q: What are some the biggest advantages for having a Diversional Therapist in our homes?

Rachel: Part of becoming a Diversional Therapist is getting a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science as a foundation qualification. They generally have specialisations. In my case I have a specialisation in Therapeutic Recreation. We provide a high-level of knowledge and skill in the areas of leisure theory and leisure participation, behavioural and psychosocial approaches to care.
We also learn and have experience in events management and planning skills to be able to develop special events and celebrations that have purpose and meaning to the residents, such as Grandparent’s Day.

Q: What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Diversional Therapist?

Rachel: Go for it! It is one of the most rewarding and fun allied health professions out there. Every day is different and it keeps you on your toes!