Tracey Dion on the mountain
Recreation therapist Tracey Dion, seen here pursuing one of her many leisure interests, says patients always comment on the energy, sense of humour and kindness volunteers bring. (Photo: Courtesy Tracey Dion)

Tracey Dion always has a smile on her face. That happy demeanour translates well in her role as a recreation therapist (RT) on the Geriatrics Unit at Toronto Rehab. It also makes for a great fit as the unit's Volunteer Supervisor, where she oversees such Therapeutic Recreation programs as Creative Arts and the Gardening/Games Group, the Pet Therapy program and the George Linton Music program, where the successful applicant provides a series of concerts for patients. 

Tracey recently sat down to discuss her profession and the patients and volunteers on her unit.

​National Volunteer Week
April 23 – 29, 2017

Everyone is invited to take some time to recognize the volunteers in UHN departments, clinics, units, waiting rooms and at information desks.

Q: What is Therapeutic Recreation?

A: It's a four-year university program that focuses on leisure and quality of life with clients. As a recreation therapist, I complete assessments to determine a person's goals, interests, barriers and accessibility needs. I then design treatment plans and implement programs in the hospital and community to meet the patient's goals of a successful return to their leisure lifestyle. Finally, I evaluate the intervention and the client's satisfaction and make recommendations for the most successful leisure involvement upon discharge.

My other role at Toronto Rehab is Practice Leader for Therapeutic Recreation. I am responsible for ensuring best practices are met and we uphold our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

National Volunteer Week is a time to recognize and celebrate UHN’s 2000-plus volunteers. (Video: UHN)
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Q: Talk about your unit and the patients you treat

A: I am a RT on the Geriatric Rehabilitation unit (6S) and in the Geriatric Day Hospital. I have been working at the hospital for 27 years.

The patients I work with are typically over 65 years old and have come to us with a variety of different changes in their health, which often means a change to their leisure involvement. For some patients leisure is something new to consider; for others the manner in which they can participate may be different than before.

That means my role involves providing leisure education, opportunities to try past or new activities, and support for continued involvement.

Q: What value do the volunteers bring to your unit?

A: The volunteers are a wonderful asset to the patients. They provide daily social support, Pet Therapy visits, assistance in the Creative Arts and Gardening/Games Programs and are very involved in special events and out trips. Without the volunteers, we wouldn't be able to reach out to as many people as we do in our group programs.

Q: What is the patient reaction to volunteers on your unit?

A: Volunteers are warmly welcomed. The patients always comment on the energy the volunteers bring, their sense of humour and kindness. Some days of the week are even known, not by the typical Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but by the name of the volunteer who will be coming in; "Snickers-day" is a favourite as this is the Pet Therapy day!

Q: Tell readers a little about you, your interests outside of Toronto Rehab

A: I love spending time with my dogs. I have a Doberman, named Betty, and a 140-pound Great Dane, named Bongo. I also enjoy knitting, reading, yoga, photography and baking.

As a real advocate for my profession, I have a great number of leisure interests…my only barrier is that I just don't have enough time to enjoy them all!

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