Interpretive description of recreational therapy within selected health care professions in South Africa
Clients participating in recreational therapy/therapeutic recreation (RT/TR)-related programmes stand to gain physical, emotional/psychological and social benefits. However, RT/TR as a profession in South Africa (SA) ended when “Remedial gymnastics and recreational therapy” was removed from the register of the SA Medical and Dental Council (now Health Professions Council of SA) in June 1978, resulting in a loss of recognition of the practice of RT/TR. There are currently three professions registered with the HPCSA – biokinetics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy – with definitions in their scopes of practice with similarities to the international definition of RT/TR. Despite the potential of leisure to have a positive influence on the SA population, whether the health professions in SA, in the absence of formal RT/TR, have used opportunities to provide RT/TR-based services, was unclear. Therefore, a research question was posed: “How can RT/TR-related training and services and be interpreted and described within selected healthcare professions in SA?” A qualitative research approach was used, with a qualitative interpretive descriptive design, using inductive and deductive content analysis, as well as thematic analysis of semi-structured telephonic interviews. The document: Certification Standards: Information for New Applicants 2018, published by the United States’ National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, was subjected to inductive content analysis to develop a control sheet of concepts, which was then used to complete a deductive analysis. The yearbooks of seven SA universities, each presenting qualifications in all three professions of biokinetics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, were analysed deductively. Thirty semi-structured telephonic interviews were conducted with biokineticists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists from across SA and data analysis resulted in the identification of three categories: 1) professional activities, 2) professional approach and 3) professional bodies, each with its own set of themes and sub-themes and one distinct standalone theme, RT/TR in SA. The study concluded that biokineticists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists are not trained or educated to provide RT/TR-related programmes and that similarities in their training to that of RT/TR is mostly in terms of the foundational knowledge required to work within the healthcare sector. Occupational therapists receive more RT/TR-related training than biokineticists and physiotherapists, and they also provide programmes with the most similarity to those of RT/TR. Although biokineticists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists provide functional interventions, their programmes are not RT/TR-orientated. Therefore, a clear gap exists that could be filled by RT/TR in SA, especially in terms of leisure education and recreation participation. The study not only contributes to the body of knowledge of RT/TR in SA, but provides information on gaps in the services of the currently available healthcare professions. Recommendations include short- and long-term operationalisation guidelines which can contribute to the development of RT/TR in the future. The study concludes with a proposed continuum that indicates which services are currently provided and where RT/TR can fit in within the current healthcare sector.
- Health Sciences