It has almost been a full year since the pandemic began and many long-term care (LTC) residents are living without therapeutic recreation programs.
According to Therapeutic Recreation Ontario, the program provides support for the social, emotional and mental health well-being for residents.
Rozalyn Werner-Arcé, the Executive Director of Therapeutic Recreation Ontario said therapeutic recreation professionals are often overlooked because their designation is not seen on the same level as personal-support workers.
Werner-Arcé said therapeutic recreation professionals have specialized skills that are crucial to the lives of long-term care residents.
"Ensuring the people's social, emotional and mental well being are being supported, so that might be through group programs, there might be an art program or playing cards or organizing community to groups to come. But it is all built on an individualized plan."
She also said more advocacy needs to be done for the government to understand how essential the program is in LTC homes.
"Advocating to governments, to local MPP's, to administrative long-term care and helping them understand the value that rec therapists bring to the long-term care system."
Werner-Arcé said there has been no funding from the Ford government even after announcing the long-term care system had an obligation to support quality lives for residents.
There also has been some frustrations among therapeutic recreation professionals who feel they are being ignored, despite having specialized skills.
Werner-Arcé said a survey conducted with therapeutic recreation professionals, explored the impact the pandemic had on their roles and the findings will be released in the coming weeks.
The organization is calling on the Ontario government to give its members the same recognition it has given to nurses and personal support workers.