A second family at work

Recent graduate feels at home providing recreation therapy in long-term care.

By Meaghan Drury '12

 

While in his fourth year of McMaster University's Gerontology program, Nicholas Crepinsek '19 was first introduced to the recreation therapy field through a recreation leisure course.

Growing up playing sports, Nicholas saw a merging of his interests in the field, supporting people and using recreation techniques to improve well-being. Interested in growing his skills and narrowing down his options in the field upon graduation, Mohawk's Recreation Therapy program was exactly what he was looking for.

Nicholas saw a huge benefit in the three work-placement requirements of the program that would ensure he would have exposure to different avenues in the field and make a well-educated choice on pursuing employment upon graduation.

Early on, Nicholas had thoughts that a career in a hospital would be the path for him. That is until he began working at Burloak Long Term Care Centre in Burlington, Ontario, during his second placement. There he really enjoyed working with the residents on a daily basis.

He was able to secure employment with Burloak after completing his placement. First on a part-time basis, where he would pick up shifts and work as much as he could, showing management his interest and dedication to the organization.

After a little more than a year, Nicholas was given an unbelievable opportunity, the interim role of Recreation Manager, overseeing the day-to-day activities of the department including securing supplies and equipment, scheduling programming and managing six staff members. As a young manager, Nicholas has relied on his years of leadership roles on sports team, in particular lacrosse, to prepare him for the task. In March 2020, the role became permanent.

 

"Long-term care can have a negative perception but it feels like a large extended family to me." – Nicholas Crepinsek ‘19

 

For the last year, working in a long-term care home during a pandemic has not been easy although Nicholas and his team adapted quickly. They continue to be vigilant in maintaining strict health requirements while ensuring their residents are able to access the therapies they need to thrive.

It is the close-knit family atmosphere that first intrigued Nicholas about working in long-term care. A connection that has only intensified in the past year. "Long-term care can have a negative perception but it feels like a large extended family to me," says Nicholas. "An extended family of 144 residents and staff I see every day." For him the long-term care environment is unique as he didn't get that same sense of connection and community when doing his placements in a hospital or through an organization that offered day-programming.

As his career continues to grow, Nicholas knows the importance of maintaining relationships with others in the recreation therapy field. He is focused on supporting students and colleagues new to the field and has maintained a connection with his professors at Mohawk. "My professors were all so knowledgeable and supportive providing me and my classmates many networking opportunities. Now I think it's important to maintain those connections and help where I can."

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