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National Recreation Association magazine "Recreation"
Hospital Capsules by Beatrice H. Hill
October 1956, Volume 49, page 403

The National Recreation Association is extremely interested in seeing the reaction to our brand new section at the International Recreation Congress, Recreation for the Ill and Handicapped.” Up to this year, the section has always been for “Hospital Recreation”; but, starting with this Congress, we hope to eliminate separate divisions of recreation for our hospitalized and our ill and handicapped population.

All the great advances being made in community non-institutional recreation are mainly for the healthy. If you think about the many thousands in this country, who are hospital outpatients or are homebound because of illness or handicap, you will find very little is being done for them.

I have been able to obtain a list of only twenty-eight states providing recreation services for the homebound. Personally, I hope the very near future will see community recreation leaders and philanthropic organizations starting very active centers for the ill and handicapped.* Since transportation poses the biggest problem for such a center, why not organize a corps of volunteer drivers? Also, every community, big city or small town, should not only have small centers for the ill and handicapped, but a trained volunteer service, under professional direction, to enlist, train, and schedule volunteer visitors for these shut-ins.

At the same time these volunteers are being recruited, trained and placed, another small group could be making a card index list of those who would benefit from visitors trained in recreation. These lists could be made with the help of many organizations dealing with the ill and handicapped, as well as from outpatient lists of neighboring hospitals.

We in recreation have tremendous responsibility not only to educate but to persuade nursing home operators to give their patients recreation, not just good food, good care, and a place to exist. Nursing homes owe their residents a chance to live happily in the home.

A question has perplexed me all summer: Is recreation a necessary function in the average small general, medical, and surgical hospital, where a ninety-seven per cent turnover in patients occurs ever five days? In New York City there are seven general, medical, and surgical hospitals with recreation programs, which find recreation an important contribution to the patients’ welfare, particularly in reducing anxiety either before or after surgery or during convalescence. On the other hand, I visited over two dozen small general hospitals in Pennsylvania this summer to find administrators felt that, as they barely broke even, they simply could not afford a recreation department. I could not disagree with them for, after all, first things do come first. And the first things in a hospital are doctors, nurses, food, and so on, down the line. On the other hand, I observed many patients, restless, bored, anxious, who certainly could have used some constructive diversion, particularly in the children’s wards.

Isn’t there some solution? If there is neither the salary or need for a full-time worker, couldn’t several hospitals in a hundred-mile area have one worker on a regular basis to visit all the hospitals, canvass the community for volunteers, and train them to run a recreation program in their hospitals? These volunteers could be trained and supervised in recreation matters by the worker, but their actual supervision could come as an active duty of any department already existing in the hospital.

I firmly believe that, if the recreation consultant could not have her salary paid by the combined efforts of a few hospitals, it could be paid through the community recreation program or as a worthy donation by a fraternal or civic organization.

Thoughts at Random

· I hope that more and more camps for the handicapped** will be organized.
· Did you know that internships are now available in some hospitals for people with a degree in recreation?
· Did you know that there are literally dozens of positions open for recreation people, particularly in Pennsylvania? ***
· What are your thoughts on music therapy? Should it be part of the recreation department or its own department in a hospital?

* See articles, “What Can be Done for the Homebound Child?” and “Help for the Homebound,” on pages 375 and 388 respectively.

** See “Boys and Girls Together – Handicapped and Able-Bodied,” Recreation, June 1955, pages 260-1.

*** See page 377.




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