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One unexpected role in aged care is making a big difference

What is a diversional therapist and what role to they play in the aged care sector?

<p>While the care of people in aged care homes is paramount, diversional therapists help to improve the quality of life for residents through activities. [Source: Shuttershock]</p>

While the care of people in aged care homes is paramount, diversional therapists help to improve the quality of life for residents through activities. [Source: Shuttershock]

Key points

  • Aged care homes often have many employees to support the residents, including nurses and aged care assistants
  • Lesser known roles such as diversional therapists are making a difference in aged care homes
  • Diversional therapists may run sessions such as art therapy an activity that could reduce depression

 

In aged care and retirement homes, there are many roles filled by hard-working people to support older people in their day-to-day living. Some of the more well-known roles include aged care workers, enrolled nurses and registered nurses. However, some roles don’t get as much attention as they deserve. 

As healthcare workers focus more on an older person’s physical health, other people such as diversional therapists work to enhance older people’s lives in aged care homes mentally, spiritually, socially and physically. Another name for diversional therapy is ‘recreational therapy.’

Therapy sessions created by diversional therapists focus not just on activities to engage people and keep them occupied but on developing a range of hands-on and holistic programs and activities to help improve the social and emotional well-being of residents. This could include art classes, discussions about different topics, yoga, computer lessons or garden games.

The importance of such work can’t be underestimated. Researchers of one study in 2022 highlighted the value of group art therapy for older people in aged care homes, because participants were found to have reduced depressive symptoms and a greater sense of purpose, as well as improved mental cognition

Researchers in a different study also came to a similar conclusion as they suggested that participation in leisure activities does have a positive effect on brain health, physical ability and mental health

Some requirements must be met before someone can be classified as a diversional therapist. Staff must hold either a Certificate III with two years of experience in the role or a Certificate IV in Leisure and Health, according to the Australian Qualifications Framework. Conversely, someone may undertake a health science degree with a specialisation in leisure. Either way, diversional therapists receive appropriate training to support the recreational activities made available to residents at aged care facilities. 

With this training, a diversional therapist must do more than just simply select an activity. The task should be made accessible to residents who may require accommodations to participate. 

Roles that a diversional therapist may undertake on any given day include:

  • ensuring the activities are of interest to the residents; 
  • training and supervising other staff in the implementation of activities;
  • adapting programs to accommodate the range of skills, abilities and needs of the people participating;
  • understanding what resources are available and when this changes;
  • encouraging residents to engage in activities.

 

Diversional therapy can give so much more meaning and quality of life to a person with dementia, who may be unable to communicate due to their cognitive ability or dementia.

Older people with dementia need to be engaged in ways that are entertaining and fun, and diversional therapy provides that avenue to keep their minds active and busy.

 

What are some of your favourite activities to do in your aged care home? Let the team at Talking Aged Care know on social media!

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive new information about the aged care sector!

Related content:

Types of jobs in aged care

Duties and responsibilities

Aged Care Quality Standards explained

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