What does a recreation professional do?
A recreation professional creates and leads meaningful activities and programs for residents to keep them engaged, active, and give meaning in their lives. They work together to understand the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual needs and strengths of residents.
Recreation professionals keep a safe and comfortable atmosphere in LTC homes and build friendships with residents. They uncover what brings residents joy and purpose and look for ways to meet their goals.
This page is part of our Careers in Long-Term Care Initiative.
Various clips used in this video were filmed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infection control practices (such as wearing a mask) may be shown.
What skills will I use?
- Interpersonal communication
- Teamwork and collaboration
How do I become a recreation professional in LTC?
Many LTC homes prefer or even require you to have a diploma or degree in recreation and leisure studies or therapeutic recreation. These programs take between two to four years. If you already have a degree, a postgraduate certificate in recreation and leisure studies or therapeutic recreation may only take one-to-two years.
Recreation is a focused field so there are a few types of roles you can play in LTC homes as a recreation professional. You need education and practical experience (through internships, or practicums from your college or university program) no matter which role you start with. Recreation professionals can move into recreation management or leadership roles in LTC homes.
Recreation aides help organize and lead recreation programs for residents. This may include physical, cognitive, social and emotional care activities. Recreation aides work alongside recreation therapists and are part of a team that coordinates with volunteers, family and other team members to keep fun and community in LTC homes.
A recreation therapist (RT) plans, organizes, and leads recreation programs for residents. They use physical, cognitive, social and spiritual activities to engage residents in fun and meaningful activities, provide purpose and promote independence. The RT is responsible for planning programs, assessments, interventions, and evaluations. They use computerized record systems to track resident’s progress towards their goals.
Director of Recreation or Life Enrichment
Directors of recreation lead the recreation team in an LTC home. In addition to the tasks of recreation therapist, directors may also handle volunteer coordination, growing community connections, planning external recreation events, and managing the recreation department budget.