Therapeutic Recreation (Gerontology)

Imagine a career where you can support the well-being of seniors through fun and rewarding activities! Older adults are the fastest growing age group in Canada, resulting in an urgent and growing need for professionals who can support and promote optimal health for this generation.

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    Delivery Method

    Delivery Method: Combined Delivery

  • Connector.Connector.


    Duration: 47 weeks, including a 7-week practicum

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    Starts: Twice per year (May and November)

Imagine a career where you can support the well-being of seniors through fun and rewarding activities! Older adults are the fastest growing age group in Canada, resulting in an urgent and growing need for professionals who can support and promote optimal health for this generation.

Therapeutic Recreation assistants promote concepts and leisure activities that promote health, increase self-esteem, increase enjoyment and life satisfaction and develop personal independence.

As a Therapeutic Recreation Assistant you will develop, facilitate, and measure programming and promote health through leisure education, client interventions, community development, partnership, physical activity and fall prevention.

Stenberg College is accredited by the BC government’s Ministry of Advanced Education through the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB).

PTIB is responsible for setting standards of quality and ensuring consumer protection. Stenberg College has also received the BC government’s Education Quality Assurance (EQA) designation which is BC’s brand or “seal” of quality post-secondary education for both public and private institutions.

All of our programs are developed in collaboration with industry to meet their needs which is why our graduates are so successful.

Over 92% of our graduates are employed in their field of study within 6 months of graduation.

Stenberg’s Therapeutic Recreation (Gerontology) program has an articulation agreement with TRU-OL. Graduates of the Stenberg program can continue their studies to achieve a Bachelors of Health Science (BSc) through TRU.
As a Therapeutic Recreation Assistant, you’ll find opportunities for employment in community & senior centres, residential settings (intermediate & long term care), assisted living housing units, adult day centres and rehabilitation centres.

Based on employment statistics gathered by Stenberg College, the wage range of Therapeutic Recreation Assistants is from $16.00 – $24.83 per hour to start.

Graduates from this diploma program may find employment in the following types of positions:

  • Therapeutic Recreation Assistant
  • Recreation Therapy Worker
  • Activity / Recreation Aide
  • Activity / Recreation Assistant
  • Rehab / Recreation Coordinator (with experience)
  • Activity Coordinator (with experience)
  • Lifestyles & Program Manager (with experience)
  • Completion of Grade 12 or 19 years of age or older
  • English 12 with a grade of C+ OR Technical Communications 12 with a grade of B+ or have ELET Test with option to take a Challenge Exam
  • Completion of Computer Proficiency Questionnaire
  • Passing Stenberg College entrance interview
  • Successful completion of a short written essay
  • Passing Verbal Test of English if English is a Second Language
  • Completion of a Criminal Record Consent Form under the Criminal Record Review Act
  • Please note: A valid driver’s license (or new driver status) is highly recommended. Graduates without a driver’s license may face limited employment opportunities and lower wages.

* Note: English requirements may be obtained by alternative means such as evidence of Post-Secondary studies at an equivalent level where English was the first language or completion of an acceptable English assessment equivalency test – TOEFL, IELTS, LPI or an ICES Evaluation.

Prior to Program Admission, Program Advisors will outline practice education requirements for the program. Upon enrollment, you will be informed of next steps and timelines. Non-compliance could result in program dismissal. Requirements for practice education placements include:

  • Acceptable Criminal Record Search under the Criminal Record Review Act
  • Proof of Immunity Status as required by industry
  • Acceptable Medical Examination Form completed by a physician

*Additional criteria may be required to fulfill industry guidelines; students will be informed in advance of any requirements that need to be fulfilled for placements.

Please click the course title below to scroll to the course description:

Orientation and Student Success Skills

This campus-based course will provide a comprehensive orientation to Stenberg College and the program of study. You come together as a group, meet faculty and staff and receive key program resources and information. You also review effective learning and study strategies, focusing on success skills based upon your own personal learning style. Life skills exercises are also integral to the course, teaching accountability, teamwork and self-awareness. You will be taught how to effectively navigate and learn within the program’s online learning platform (Moodle).

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Interpersonal Communication

You will learn theoretical and practical skills to promote effective communication with clients and co-workers in a therapeutic relationship. You will be encouraged to become more aware of the impact of your own communication choices and patterns. You will have the opportunity to develop and use communication techniques that demonstrate personal awareness, respect, and active listening skills. Communication theory, therapeutic communication, cross-cultural communication, and effective teamwork will all be covered.

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Human Anatomy and Physiology

This course is an introduction to common medical terminology and the body systems and sense organs. You will explore each system including: an overview of that system’s general function; system parts, their specific function and location; relationship with other systems; and common pathologies including signs and symptoms and prognosis of those pathologies. Health promotion strategies related to each system will also be discussed.

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Human Development across the Lifespan

Understanding human development is basic to therapeutic practice and is essential for all work with clients. Starting with child development, you gain an overview of early childhood studies before moving on through adolescence and into older adulthood. There will be an introduction to contemporary issues of the older adults examining work and retirement, and social relationships. Death and dying will also discussed within this course.

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Health Promotion: Managing Risk & Staying Healthy

You will also be introduced to the core concepts discussing the determinants of health, and the relationship between health and leisure. Methods to encourage and promote involvement in leisure activities will be explored. You will explore skills for managing risk, stress, and the life/work balance.

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Variations in Health: Focus on Aging

This course introduces you to the normal bodily changes associated with aging. You will explore common challenges to health in the older adult including strokes, heart attacks, dementia, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Creative and effective therapeutic recreation interventions for different conditions will be reviewed as well as the impact of social structures and attitudes. End of life care will also be discussed and cultural diversity in approaches will be considered.

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Foundations of Therapeutic Recreation

This course will introduce you to the skills and standards needed for success in this field. The concepts of recreation and leisure will be studied and their significance to the individual. You will also gain an overview of the National Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics within Canada (CTRA). Historic and current perspectives and industry practices will be examined as well as an overview of the different delivery settings. Inter-professional practice will be discussed as well as exploring the concepts of professionalism, accountability, and ethical practice.

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Professional Communications & Person-Centered Care

The first part of this course provides you with an opportunity to develop professional communication skills with the older adult, specifically when addressing sensory, language and cognitive deficits. You will explore relational practices such as how to establish trust, honour diversity, resolve workplace conflicts, and best manage agitated and/or aggressive individuals. Inter-disciplinary team work will be explored and developing services that work in partnership with other therapeutic services.
In the second part of this course, you focus on the concept of person-centered care, basic human needs, and using person-centered thinking to form therapeutic relationships, focusing on how they relate to persons with dementia and their support systems.

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Sociology of Aging

You will look at separating out common myths from the realities of aging. Taking a sociological viewpoint, you will explore the implications of an aging population on economy, health care, social programs, and public policy within our global and Canadian society. The relationship between leisure and aging will be examined including the concepts of health promotion, physical and mental wellness, normal ageing changes, continued independence, and exploration of community resources.

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Program Planning Processes in Therapeutic Recreation

Each stage of the design process will be examined as you learn the methods used for program design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Planning processes for special event planning and inclusive programming are discussed. You will gain an understanding of the assessment process, examining the different assessment tools used in the field by Recreation Therapists and how Therapeutic Recreation Assistants can support the assessment process. You learn how client assessments are used in developing and improving person-centered program designs. The use of therapeutic recreation programs and their benefits for promoting and enhancing quality of life will also be explored within this course. You will examine the opportunities available within long term facilities to incorporate recreation therapy and how to promote independence, creativity, and development of new skills within a safe and supportive environment.

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Recreation Leadership & Group Dynamics I

You will investigate your own ideas of effective leadership, through an exploration of leadership theory, techniques and self-analysis. The development of core leadership qualities such as decision making, problem solving, risk management, conflict resolution, and interpersonal communication are addressed. The concept and dynamics of groups are explored and you will complete an additional certification in volunteer management.

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Facilitation Techniques & Implementation of Therapeutic Recreation Interventions

You will begin this course by examining a variety of different program types and interventions used to facilitate therapeutic recreation services. There will be a focus on dementia care programming. You will gain fundamental knowledge and skills in a number of different facilitation techniques in order to support clients based on their individual needs. Motivation techniques will be discussed and the different types of community resources that can be accessed to help support a client. You will also look at the role therapeutic recreation plays for older adults going through rehabilitation.

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Dementia Care Programming

You will explore a variety of dementia types, common behaviours, and environmental stressors. Examining a variety of dementia care programs, you will evaluate methods of facilitation and focus on strategies for inclusion of families.

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Recreation Leadership & Group Dynamics II

Focusing on the principles of leadership, education, and quality service, you will examine the foundations of management of service delivery, developing your skills in marketing processes, group facilitation and public speaking.

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Consolidated Practice Experience

A seven-week final practicum concludes the program and facilitates the transition you from student to graduate. A designated mentor will a guide and encourage you to apply your knowledge, insight, and skills in a professional geriatric focused setting. You will be required to be available during the day, afternoon, evening, and weekends. At the conclusion of this experience, there will be a collaborative final debriefing. You will have the opportunity to reflect on and share your experiences as well as evaluate your overall educational experience so the program may be improved in relation to your feedback.

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Career Search Strategies

You learn to network effectively (online and in person), to search, and apply for jobs and to prepare targeted resumes and cover letters. You are also provided with coaching and individualized instructor feedback on your resume, cover letter, and interview skills.

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Please click the course title below to scroll to the course description.

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System

WHMIS provides information about materials in the workplace that can be hazardous, such as cleaning agents, compressed gases, and flammable materials. Becoming WHMIS certified will demonstrate the ability to identify hazardous materials and handle them properly.

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You will learn how to prepare food in a way that protects customers from injury or illness. Some of the topics covered are food-borne diseases, personal hygiene, and safe procedures for storing.

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Standard First Aid CPR Level HCP

You’ll receive Red Cross Standard First Aid Certification including Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Health Care Provider (HCP), and Automated External Defibrillation (AED). This industry standard certification is valid for three years.

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Provincial Violence Prevention

The Provincial Violence Prevention Training Curriculum will teach you to recognize and respond to violent situations and learn about different types of violence and strategies for dealing with the risks in a variety of health care contexts. The Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum has been developed by a team of experts from Worksafe BC, the Occupational Health & Safety Agency for healthcare in BC, as well as BC health authorities and healthcare unions. This training and certification is offered in collaboration with Fraser Health Authority.

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Volunteer Management Training

You will learn the integral components of a successful volunteer program including: recruitment, orientation & training, supervision & evaluation, and retention of volunteers. This training and certification is offered in collaboration with Volunteer Richmond.

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Serving It Right

Serving It Right is a mandatory course that educates licensees, managers, and servers about their legal responsibilities when serving alcohol, and provides effective techniques to prevent problems related to over-service.

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Body Mechanics & Back Safety

You will be educated in proper body movement to prevent and correct poor posture, reduce stress on ligaments, joints and tendons, and enhance physical capabilities. Proper body mechanics and back safety will enhance the longevity and success in the workplace and will help ensure that transfers and positioning are done in a manner that is safe and appropriate for everyone. Please note: While this training follows best practices, you may also be required to learn and follow workplace specific protocols.

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Gentle Persuasive Approaches

This one-day course is designed for interdisciplinary front-line staff who work directly with clients with dementia. Taking a person-centered approach, this course teaches you to fully understand responsive behaviours and how to identify triggers in order to be able to respond effectively and appropriately in a workplace setting. You will learn personal de-escalation techniques, respectful self-protection and gentle redirection techniques for when responsive behaviours do occur.

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Personal & Professional Development Skills Certificate

Responding carefully to the needs of today’s employers, a series of Personal and Professional Development Workshops have been integrated throughout the program to develop critical thinking and soft skills. Workshops include Giving and Receiving Feedback, Conflict Resolutions, Active Listening, Providing Quality Service and Building Rapport, Leadership, and Employability Skills.

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You could be eligible for Employment Insurance funding for education, government student loans, as well as other financing options; Stenberg’s Financial Aid Officer would be happy to provide further assistance.