Therapeutic Recreation Consultation Needs
by Gary M. Robb Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Office of Recreation and Park Resources, University of Illinois
(Editors note: Complete results of the study can be obtained from the author. Send requests to ORPR, 312 Armory Building, Champaign 61820)
In order to determine the need and desire for public service consultation in the Therapeutic field, a survey questionnaire was developed and mailed to over 300 administrators/directors of various recreation and/or rehabilitation agencies throughout the State of Illinois. Table I reveals the study sample by agency type and percentage of questionnaire returns. A total of 209 usable questionnaires or 69 percent of the sample were returned.
Results of the study are far too extensive to include in this report (the complete report is available upon request); however, some general statements and conclusions can easily be drawn from the questionnaire returns.
A. Expressed Interest in Therapeutic Recreation Consultation Services
Study respondents were asked if they would be interested in the ORPR Therapeutic Recreation Specialist assisting them with any of the following:
Development and/or conduct of seminars, Information dissemination (e.g. information on standards for service, legislation, program ideas, new products, educational opportunity, etc., via newsletter, circular, etc.), Program initiation/development, Program evaluation, Public relations and/or fund raising ideas, Surveys, Other.
The response for assistance requests was overwhelming. Proportionate to sample size for each agency type, the data shows that state and federal rehabilitation agencies generated the greatest number of consultation requests, followed by park districts/municipal recreation departments and nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
B. Perceived Importance of the ORPR Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Responsibilities
The study participants were asked to rate the importance of eleven types of activities that were identified as possible responsibilities of the ORPR Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. They were to rate each item thusly: very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not at all important.
The eleven types of activities listed were briefly:
1) Conduct of workshops, training programs, 2) Conduct of program evaluation, 3) Monitoring and input into legislation, 4) Assistance with new program development, 5) Standards monitoring, 6) Standards revision and upgrading, 7) Information dissemination, 8) Liaison with allied health disciplines, 9) Advocacy, 10) Surveys, investigations,
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research and 11) Resource and area/facility development assistance.
The data reveals that as a group the respondents felt that program development, consultation on resource and facility development and conducting workshops and training programs were the greatest responsibilities for the ORPR Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Conducting surveys and research investigations were rated least important.
Many conclusions can be drawn as a result of this study, the most striking being the amount of interest that the study itself generated and the overwhelming need for therapeutic recreation consultation within the State of Illinois as demonstrated by the number of assistance requests received. More specifically, the results indicate that:
1) The delivery of therapeutic recreation services is still relatively new, and agencies are primarily concerned with procuring new ideas and advice as to how to most effectively deal with program development and staff training.
2) Agencies are primarily concerned with direct service consultation, e.g. program development, information dissemination, etc., as opposed to consultation of a broader nature that may not have as many direct and immediate pay offs, e.g. liaision, standards, monitoring, etc.
3) Agencies, in general, are not ready to subject their programs to outside evaluations/surveys that might reflect on the quality of their programs, HOWEVER agencies with established recreation programs were more inclined to request assistance of an investigative nature, i.e. program evaluation, conduct of surveys, research, than were those whose programs have been operative for a relatively brief period.
The results of this study seem to attest to the continuing and rapid development of service delivery for special populations within the State of Illinois and to the interest that those involved in recreational programming for these groups have in improving the quality of services with the assistance of outside consultation.
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