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JOY PENNICK

Practicum: May 2015

Community Transition Program


I completed my five-week Practicum with the Addictions and Mental Health
Community Transition Program (CTP), under the supervision of Recreation Therapist, Tara
Harnish. CTP is designed to assist adults, with complex mental and physical health needs, in
transitioning to a supportive community setting. In addition, these clients may exhibit
challenging behaviours and may face social barriers that further impact their quality of life.
The integrated team is comprised of clinical staff (Recreation Therapy, RNs and
LPNs, MDs) from Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), Regional Rehabilitation Workers
(RRW) from the Department of Community Services, OT, Social Work, Security and
Administrative staff. The program follows the Integrated Care team-approach and is clientcentered and outcome focused. CTP is a voluntary program that provides 24/7 care to
clients who are referred by Addictions and Mental Health, NSHA.
Although CTP can accommodate 16 beds, there were seven clients during this
period, ranging in age from 22 to 65 years. These individuals were diagnosed with
Dementia, Acquired Brain Injury, Schizophrenia, Autism or Borderline Personality
Disorder, in addition to certain medical conditions that impact their physical health. CTPs
vision is to assist these individuals in reaching their potential by providing support,
treatment and skill development opportunities.
Each week, I assumed a more active role in tasks that reflected the scope of practice
of a Recreation Therapy Associate. I completed client intake screens, undertook program
planning and facilitation, documentation and research. In addition, I successfully completed

an assigned Special Project Activity Binder, intended as a programming resource for staff.
During this time,
I was able to focus particular attention on three clients, establishing rapport and
developing specific interventions and activities that reflected their identified goals.
Most scheduled on-unit programs were delivered as one-on-one interventions. I was
responsible for many of these programs, successfully facilitating Fun and Fit, Art and
Creativity, Relaxation, Special Events, Community Outings and Morning Drop-in. This
involves all aspects of delivery, including set-up, assembling supplies, engaging staff and
recruiting clients. Clients at CTP had differing needs, capabilities and interests, making
group facilitation difficult. These clients required support staff and some exhibit
challenging behaviours. Following each activity, clients participation was monitored and
documented appropriately.
Progress notes were completed following client participation in scheduled
programs or one-on-one interactions. Focused tracking-charts were also completed, to
ensure that client progress was accurately measured, documented and discussed during
daily Rounds, and that all members of the team were kept informed. During this period, I
developed keener observational skills and learned how to describe these observations with
greater objectivity and brevity.
Despite the challenging behaviour of clients, and the difficult staffing arrangements,
I enjoyed my time at CTP. I learned a great deal about complex mental health conditions
and about the available treatments and services for these clients. I now appreciate the true
value of Recreation Therapy services in such settings and can better advocate for those
who would benefit from these interventions.