Recreational Therapists’ Perceptions of the COVID-19 Impact on Older Adult Clients and Professional Practice – A Two-Part Study
Recreational therapists in Michigan and Pennsylvania were interviewed on their perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 on practice with older adults, including changes to their roles and responsibilities as well as the impact on older adults. Social distancing requirements, limitations on visitors and restrictions on groups transformed programming and practice, as well as negatively impacted older adults living in a variety of residential and community-based settings. This qualitative study included 14 recreational therapists. Related to practice, identified themes included the impact on programming, changing roles and responsibilities, how recreational therapists coped with adversity, and their considerations for future practice. Regarding impact on older adults, the resulting themes noted: 1) lack of socialization, 2) emotional and behavioral responses, 3) physical decline, and 4) cognitive decline. The challenges of working with clients living with cognitive impairments and barriers for older adults living in the community are discussed. Recommendations for practice and research to address the long-term effects of COVID-19 in recreational therapy with older adults are presented.
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