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Diversional therapists gather

Diversional therapists and recreation officers met at Carters Rest Home last week ahead of Diversional Therapists Awareness Week, from September 5 to 9. Standing, from left Pam Rogers (back) and Wendy Tope of Roseneath Lifecare, Carole Thom and Jane Hosking of Cornwall Rest Homes, Debbie Laird of Lansdowne Park, Sandy Wellington of Arbor House, and Emma Morris of Kandahar.

Seated, from left Faye Leveridge and Ruth Hooper of Carter Court, Barbara Caffell of Lyndale Care, Dianne Alexander of Aversham House Rest Home, Denise Gillam of Ultimate Care Lansdowne Court, and Ann Wilson of Ultimate Care Greytown. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

By Gerald Ford

A group of thirteen professionals met last week to celebrate ahead of Diversional Therapists Awareness Week.

These women work at various rest homes throughout Wairarapa looking after “leisure needs” of residents there – as well as running outreach programmes attended by people in the community.

Some were diversional therapists and others recreation officers, but all are members of the Wairarapa branch of

NZSDT – the New Zealand Society of Diversional Therapists.

In a prepared statement the team described their mission to improve the lives of those in their care through diversional therapy:

“Diversional Therapy is the leisure needs of clients, especially the elderly and disabled. Activities are designed to stimulate and enhance the spiritual, emotional, social, cognitive and psychological wellbeing of a large section of society…”

Therapy enables people “to maintain old skills and develop new skills that are important for quality of life”.

Maintaining social functioning in particular helps minimise the effects of disability, “enabling them to initiate control over their life and ensure continued involvement with the wider community”.

The workers meet monthly and are a source of support for each other, says diversional therapist Barbara Caffell of Lyndale Care.

“We feed off each other and support each other,” Mrs Caffell said.

“We work one or two of us to a rest home, and when we get together when can say what we want and know what each other means.”

Healthcare assistants and even management can be a little unsure of just what it is diversional therapists do, the women say.

“It can be a lonely job,” says Barbara.

The social contact is important for clients too.

“We take our residents out as much as we can,” Dianne Alexander of Ultimate Care Greytown said.

“(We go to) shows, we liaise with churches, we liaise with schools, places like Harlequin (theatre) send us information when they’ve got a show on.”

Older people in the community can find themselves isolated in their own homes – an isolation that can surprise them, especially after the loss of a spouse, Faye Leverage of Carter Court said.

Some rest homes, including Carter Court, have weekly recreation days that are open to these people as visitors.

“Suddenly we’ve opened up a whole new world for them,” Faye said.

“One of our people said ‘I wish I could come every day’.”


  1. When Mum was contemplating care we inquired all about the Diversional Therapy activities. As the population ages Diversional Therapy becomes a more crucial service and occupation in our community.

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