Forum Discussion

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Pauline 26th Aug 2013 Activity Officer
As a long term activity officer in the industry I have been through the days when an AO was just a baby sitter.

I have watched the position grow over the years and worked side by side with all the staff I have worked with RN's, AIn's, Domestics & Cleaners even the dear old handyman & watched our position become an important role in the community, but never have I experienced the treatment that I have received in my latest facility.

The staff have no respect for the activity officers at all, nor do they wish to work with them in a brand new Dementia unit, they feel the unit should not be there and openly state on a daily basis that they have no time for the residents that live there.

I wish to point out to everyone that this is becoming common in many facilities as younger staff come into the workplace & bringing with it a bullying mentality within our industry that is getting out of control.

Please, Please can we turn back the clock a little and respect each other' position's as we are all working together to ensure our residents have the best quality of care we can give them.

I also enjoy 1-1 time feeding the residents, but as an activity officer I have a job to do and if I am working in the kitchen, completing nursing tasks, toileting, feeding, showering and serving meals, and cleaning up after them, where am I supposed to fit in the activities.

Just something for everyone to think about because this could become the future of an activity officer in many facilities and if I wanted to do this I would rather be paid for all of the above positions not just as an Activity Officer.

Also this situation has led me to resign from a job I have loved for many years due to the bullying and lack of respect and I fear the future's of the elderly residents who need us the most.

I am not going to leave the industry all together I would love to find another job with a facility & work with a real team who put their residents first.

Peter 27th Aug 2013 Certified Alzheimers and Dementia Coach
Hi Pauline. I'm so sad to hear this, but fear you are correct.. you are welcome to contact me as I might have something you might be interested in.
Peter. 0414265203.
patricia 27th Aug 2013 Recreational Activity Officer
I feel for you Pauline, you sound as though you are very dedicated to the RAO job. Unfortunately it is sad when the hours that are put in are not valued. I think nursing staff need training on how important Leisure and Lifestyle activites are, with a better understanding it can make their jobs a little easier.
dorothy 31st Aug 2013 diversional therapist
hi pauline
this is very sad , i bekieve all you devoted RAO's and AO"s need to upgrade your skills i have done my diploma and now am studying at uni behavioual and phycological symtems of dementia and it seems if you are on equal standing with EEN's and RN's you have a chance , we do really need a voice in this industry the Diversional Therapy association dosen't seem to do much for us , i am fortunate to work for a great organisation who has a manager who values DT's i suggest you go for many interviews and ask all these questions turn the interview around and interview the facility and make sure they are activity minded with support.
Margie Kennard, DTA Office Manager 18th Sep 2013
In response to Dorothy, on 31st August. Please remember DTA is a not-for-profit, proudly independent, member funded and run organisation. It is the professional association for the diversional therapy profession in Australia. The Board consists of 11 members from around Australia who at an estimate, put in a minimum of 8 hours per week on DTA matters voluntarily! Members are interested and concerned professionals who wish to support the hard work of moving the profession forward, notwithstanding the daily challenges we all face in the workplace.

The Board are members, like you and I, who are able to, and prepared, to put their time, sometimes pay for extra expenses personally and give up annual leave to attend meetings with NACA and AHPA, and man the DTA exhibit at others events.

If you want to help or make changes you can! Become a member and even get on the Board if you wish - you are welcome we need you!
Louise Absalom, Board President DTA 18th Sep 2013 Diversional Therapist
Response to Aug 31st Post by Dorothy.

Hello Dorothy, I am concerned about the comments you have made. As a peak national body, Diversional Therapy Australia provides national and international leadership, support and advice on key leisure and recreation issues. Diversional Therapy Australia supports its members by fostering excellence in professional practice.
Diversional Therapy Australia is committed to transparent governance, developing marketing opportunities, fostering international liaison, advancing a media voice, supporting its member base and promoting excellence in education designed to support the Diversional Therapy role.

This year the Board have been successful in applying for and gaining membership to Allied Health Professionals Australia. This allows DTA and its members to stand alongside allied health disciplines such as Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy etc., on a political and lobbying platform.

The Board of Diversional Therapy Australia are committed to providing national leadership; this is exemplified within the annual Diversional Therapy Australia conference, the employment of a National Education Coordinator whose role it is to plan workshops in each state at least on an annual basis, and in regional areas as, and when practicable. Diversional Therapy Australia is represented within the National Aged Care Alliance, and more specifically on the Gateway Advisory group. This National presence contributes to the commitment of the allied health role, inclusive of Diversional Therapy, to the national health perspective. This affiliation has, and continues to, support and drive the role of the allied health professional, inclusive of involvement in policy development at the Government level.

Diversional Therapy Australia has a strong relationship with the Diversional Therapy Association of Japan, and The Society of Diversional Therapists of New Zealand. This collaboration is inclusive of study tours, representation at respective conferences, and sharing of information through newsletters and social mediums.

Diversional Therapy Australia has Memorandums of Understanding with The Humour Foundation, the Diversional Therapy Association of Japan and the Migrant Resource Centre, Southern Tasmania. These documents guide practices such as study tours, education, research, liaison and support. Diversional Therapy Australia has collaborative relationships with organisations such as the Arts Health Institute, Alzheimer’s Australia, Charles Sturt University, University of Western Sydney, and Redleaf Training and Consultancy. Diversional Therapy Australia value the inclusive and supportive nature of these relationships.

Diversional Therapy Australia is committed to the advancement of Diversional Therapy and are also aware of the requirement for academic qualification to underpin the profession. Diversional Therapy Australia has close ties with, and continues to work with, universities in supporting those students undertaking the Degree, through recognition and financial supports.

The 2013 strategic plan for Diversional Therapy Australia is to develop ties with other universities in raising the profile of Diversional Therapy across Australia. The Board sees this as an integral part of the challenge of promoting and furthering skilled allied health professionals. On this point you are to be congratulated on taking the step to gaining your Degree.
dorothy 19th Sep 2013 diversional therapist
in response to louise and margie comment dated the 18th of September .
Thank you for your detailed information about the Diversional Therapy association , my comment was not mean't to offend and i opologise if it has ,but the bottom line here is that we are no longer in the funding tool since changing to ACFI neither is music therapy, aromatherapy, art therapy which are vital professionals in the well being and care of our residents. Also we are not in many cases taken seriously as professionals , some care managers do not understand the concept of diversional therapy and use these passioate people as baby sitters and so forth as you read time and time again in this blog . What is to be done , as we have Mr Abbott now as our prime minister and he has stated the accreditation process for aged care needs change , we should be lobbying strongly to get Diversional therapy and the other therapies back in the funding tool , Dt's would come back and join the association as it would once again be a mandatory requirment as it was under the RCS system .Then there would be those wonderful seminars and work shops that i used to love attending once again .
i understand the members of the board work tirelesly and i salute you all.
Jessica 28th Aug 2015 Volunteer and Nurse
I started in my journey with aged care as the 13 year old daughter of one of the nurses working in the aged care facility. I came in to play the flute for the residents. I have seen first hand how music therapy has effect over the years as I am now 25 years old and have been in aged care in some fashion or another all of that time.
I started with the flute, and then began to assist the AO/DT with other activities with the residents, including pet therapt. I loved it so much that in 2009 after a course in performing arts I applied for the AO/DT course. I was unsucessful as at the time I was told I needed a certificate in healthcare as this was prerequisite. As a result I ended up commencing cert 4 in nursing 2010 and have been working as a PCA since 2011 and EEN since 2012. I am still in aged care now and still loving it.
Not all young people are of this opinion and not all nurses are as skeptical of the results of the job that you do. On the flip side, as nurse I often am frustrated that the AO/DT doesn't no more in the way of activities as i frequently find that as an EEN I am not only attending to the nursing care needs, but also the therapy needs as well.
Another activity that I have assisted with the set up of is the use of sweet orange essential oil in an ultrasonic diffuser. Great results. At the moment using a 0.5-1% concentration. Can be a bit stronger, but as I have not yet completed my diploma of aromatherapy and also as there has been some resistance from staff it was felt that it was safer to start softly and then work the strength up.
Good luck and I hoe things work for you in your facility. I just wanted to comment and let you know that we are not all as awful as that. :)

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