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
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
* 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.