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Solange 6th Sep 2012

Posted on the Forum

According to our statistics, the most common job titles for members of our community are: Diversional Therapist, Recreation Therapist, Lifestyle Co-ordinator, Activities Officer.
However there are hundreds of other titles as well!

What are your thoughts on the wide range of job titles that cover the work we do as activity professionals?

This is a popular topic of conversation amongst our members and I have added some comments received previously to this thread. Please share your thoughts.
Michael L 19th Mar 2009
Always important for clients needs and interests to be taken into account when planning programs. I understand it is what the terminology is in Australia but I absolutely despise the term Diversional Therapy - it sounds as though you are wasting or filling time and diverting your client from something that is actually important; this term does our field and the perception of it no justice. Michael
Heather 20th Jul 2009
Michael, does activities co ordinator appeal to you? We sometimes use that term in NZ, rather than a D/T
Solange 21st Jul 2009
Yes, anything is better than Diversional Therapist. My problem with the title is that it does not describe what we do. Four out of five people that hear it ask:
What is that? What do you do? Activities coordinator is a very good title in my opinion.
jeannette 11th Sep 2009
here in western australia we are called occupational therapists assistants, which is a real mouthful, but on our badges it is ota
Solange Kindermann 9th Oct 2009
It is interesting that there is no national uniformity for the title, this is the first time I that I hear of OTA.
maria 28th Nov 2009
Hear in South Australia we are called Lifestyle Coordinators/Assistants.Maria
Heather 17th Jan 2010
We need to all get together Michael, and work on giving ourselves a new title, something that can be uniform. I will mention it at our next conference and get some feed back. (not until August)
So come on, lets get some ideas rolling in and then perhaps we can vote on it ( for fun)
Heather Bay of Plenty NZ
Christine 28th Jan 2010
Ive just applied for a position at our local MPS it was advertised as Diversional Therapist/Activities Officer perhaps if you hold a qualification its a DT or working towards or have experience you should be a AO :-)
Margaret 30th Jan 2010
I agree with Michael, why aren't we called Stimulators for the over 55's!!!
Noriko 23rd Apr 2010
I completed my diploma of community services (lifestyle and leisure) at the end of last year, and have worked as a Diversional Therapist in Dementia and Mental Health Unit in a nursing home in Melbourne. Now I have made up my mind to quit because what the management and Registered Nurses expect me is really diverting residents' attention from their needs - even from physical pain!
I am eligible to join Diversional Therapists Association of Australia, but I don't want to be called a Diversional Therapist again.
Maria 28th May 2010
I work at a facility in South West Western Australia and we are called Activities Assistant. We are a day centre that accomodates both social and dementia specific clients that are still living in the community, either on their own, with spouses or other family. There are two sides to the facility so that dementia clients socialise
together and the social club clients are on the other side.
Shirley 4th Mar 2012
Activity co-ordinator is not a title that fulfils the need that a qualified Diversional Therapist can provide we are so much more than someone that is co-ordinating activites. And i find being refered to as an activites person demeaning.
Solange 5th Mar 2012
Hi Shirley, I understand your point of view, but an 'activity-coordinator' could mean a person that you, the Recreation Therapist, delegated to lead and supervise the activities. That person does not necessarily develop, implement and evaluate the activities; that's the role of the RT among many others.
marita 8th Mar 2012
How does a leisure and health therapist sound?? Were I am employed we are referred to as lifestyle assistants.
Solange 8th Mar 2012
Hi Madeleine, a lot of people in the industry dislike the title of 'Diversional Therapist, you are not alone. My problem with it is that if someone ask you what sort of work you do and you say "I'm Diversional Therapist' 9 out of 10 times they will ask: "What? What does it mean?!
Madeleine 8th Mar 2012
Where I am we are called Recreational Activities Officers or RAO's. I just refer to myself as an Activites Officer. I have much higher qualifications but don't find it at all demeaning and would hate to be called a diversional therapist. I don't just coordinate activities but unless you do this type of job it is very hard to have an understanding of all the other things that are involved in the smooth running of Activities. I don't do any diversions but I do provide activities that enrich peoples lives.
Marina 17th Mar 2012
I work in a secure Dementia wing, and I'm proud of being a registered Diversional Therapist. It is so much more than just doing daily activities - it is about making the individual resident feel happy, safe and secure in their new environment. Diversions are used daily to help residents with their individual problems with showering , getting on with other residents etc. We try many things to turn their bad experiences to good ones. I
love my job very much.
Shirley 18th Mar 2012
Here here Marina well done.
Eloisef 2nd Sep 2013
Hi, sorry to intrude on the conversation but I'm interested in becoming a diversional therapist, the thought of the job sounds great. Would you recommend it as a fulfilling job? Highs and lows?
Pauline 3rd Sep 2013
Hi eloisie, you were not intruding on any conversation and feel free to say what is on your mind to any comments I may make.

The answer to your question is yes becoming a DT is a great job providing that is what the facility wants from you.

The current situation that is developing at the moment for all DTs that is not right, we are not classed as nurses nor do we have the insurance to cover us if we "god forsake us have an accident with a resident" as we cannot join the Nurses Union. Should a family decide to sue us, we need someone out there to come to our support as an industry and we have been left high and dry while the other departments in aged care have not.

All I am asking is that managers of a facility recognise this, I love the job and would like to return to it but there are not many jobs available for DT,s in the central coast area of NSW.

Please do not let my situation put you off the job as I repeat I have always loved the job and became Demetia Specific as a DT because of it.

I have also worked interstate in a facility that had good management and provided the activity with full support and carers that welcomed us on a daily basis and wanted to to do their side of the job and provide assistance when required.

I just got a bad deal this year with one facility closing down and another not working out due to them wanting too much done by the activity officer.

So please everyone out there look at the job descriptions that are out there when you apply for them and interview the facility when you get an interview not the other way around.

Being a DT is a wonderful career and very worthwhile if you are prepared to be there for everyone on a daily basis, I have been in it for 13 wonderful years and will recommend it anyone who asks me, but keep your eyes open and your wits about you as things are changing everyday and aged care is becoming a growing area amongst the staff in all areas for bullying and intimidation and if we keep this up no one will want to work in it anymore and what will happen to our wonderful elderly people in the future if this happens.

wendy 5th Sep 2013
I agree, the profession should be recognised as a profession, as is nursing which has a regulator, wage agreement and union, it is a very important part of the Accreditation and the ACF
The DT Association should be focusing its energy on lobbying government to have the profession recognised instead of putting people off by worrying about who should be allowed to have full membership to the DT Association ie only people with a uni degree. I for one will not go on to get a degree when the wage is so low and the job is not recognised as a profession. What do others say
Annie 6th Sep 2013
Wendy I couldn't agree with you more. I worked as Diploma qualified DT for 4 years in aged care and would have loved to stay and go further with qualifications. The only option was Associate Degree of Health Science (DT) or Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. But I quickly realized that no matter how much more education or further training I did, I would not be rewarded monetarily at work. I took a lot of extra courses; went to Seminars and researched heaps of USA and UK sites for free courses and ideas/resources - always above and beyond, but still remained on $19.01 an hour no matter how much more I brought to the job with that experience. It was never truly appreciated and I could never please everyone enough because there was just one DT (me) and 47 residents: and of course only 27.5 hours a week work. I also never joined the DT Association because I quickly saw there was absolutely no benefit to me at all! And why should I study a degree when it is absolutely not necessary in aged care and is not reflected in my wages? After 4 years, frustration took over and I studied nursing instead. At least it has an organized union and a public presence. I'm now working as an EEN in aged care and paid so much more than as DT it's ridiculous. Still rewarding but in a different way. I always praise our DTs at work for the great job they are doing knowing how difficult it is: and praise you all too. All the DTs certainly need a voice - good luck.
Sharon Gronow 6th Sep 2013
To be known as a Diversional Therapist these days you must have the Associate Degree in Diversional Therapy, and be registered. This will allow you to work with a variety of ages and in different settings. This is available through Charles Sturt Uni NSW (distance ed available). I have been an "activities officer" an OTA, a DiversionalTherapy Coordinator and a Lifestyle & Leisure Coordinator. Diversional Therapy sounds ok to me.
dorothy 7th Sep 2013
Hi annie
i applaude your enthusiasum for changing to EEN it is great as you have the understanding of diversional therapy and can mentor the AIn's into this thinking and get away from the task oriented thinking that i get frustrated with and i agree no matter how much you learn your monetry value does not increase but you know i get great satisfaction from making a difference in the lives of people with dementia seeing them excel in something not just particapate i am eventually going to go into teaching I also left aded care for 3 years and went and worked for a contract cleaning company as there site supervisor at a major outlet it was refreshing and diferent and a i learned a lot that now benefit s me back in aged care it dosent hurt when you are disalusioned to do that it helps you to see where you really want to be.

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