Recreational therapist jobs are usually found in hospitals or other health care facilities. Professionals with these jobs may have a variety of different tasks, though the main purpose of the job is to improve a patient's quality of life. Recreational therapists may create games, teach classes, or offer social activities for patients to enjoy. Providing a diverse range of activities helps patients find something to enjoy while allowing them to practice a variety of skills and have richer lives, whether they temporary or permanent conditions.
Many recreational therapist jobs are found in geriatric care. Older patients who have suffered an injury or illness may have long-term health concerns that can greatly diminish their quality of life by decreasing mobility and the capacity for self-sufficiency. Recreational therapists who work with elderly patients often provide entertainment and activities that help patients continue to use their bodies and minds as much as possible. These activities can also promote social interaction, helping patients build friendships and improve their outlook on life.
Hospitals may also have recreational therapist jobs. Patients with both chronic and acute conditions can benefit from this type of therapy, especially if they will be remaining in the hospital for a long period of time. Children's wards or children's hospitals may make use of recreational therapist jobs that help children play and focus on positive experiences rather than the stressful and often frightening experience of being hospitalized. Adults who need to remain in the hospital for an extended stay can also benefit from the help of a recreational therapist.
Some recreational therapist jobs focus on patient rehabilitation. Patients who have had trauma to the brain or who have lost function in a part of their body can use the help of a recreational therapist. These jobs may require therapists to create activities that help patients practice skills they will need in order to be more self-sufficient. Unlike traditional occupational or physical therapy, the activities designed by recreational therapists will often be in the form of some sort of game that makes practicing skills enjoyable.
Other recreational therapist jobs may focus more on improving a patient's quality of life. Therapists often organize physical activities, such as dance or fitness classes, artistic activities, such as painting or crafting, or social activities such as games or acting classes. The goals of each of these activities are often diverse and can include improving social relationships, practicing skills, and giving patients a way to focus on having fun instead of on being sick.