National Recreational Therapy Month: Meet Garland Jones, MS, CTRS

February is National Recreational Therapy Month! We celebrate this time by highlighting the significant contributions our physical therapists make to our patients and residents each day.

We’d like you to meet Garland Jones, the Director of Recreational Therapy at St. John’s Nursing Center at Catholic Health Services North Campus. Garland is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist passionate about making a difference in her field and her community at large.

What is therapeutic recreation, and how does it benefit our residents at Catholic Health Services?

Recreational therapy programs are designed to facilitate patients’ physical and emotional well-being by providing activities that help improve cognitive, social and motor functioning.

A single 20-minute exercise session, for example, can help people significantly reduce their anxiety and stress. Activities such as board games and bingo, both favorites at St. John’s Nursing Center, help improve hand-eye coordination, fine-motor skills, and gross-motor movement.

Recreational therapy in seniors is especially important because they can suffer from loneliness, depression, and anxiety, which can lead to loss of physical functioning. It provides an avenue for seniors to renew, maintain, and utilize essential mental and physical skills, thereby prolonging overall health.

Why did you choose Recreational Therapy as a profession?

I’m a curious, goal-oriented person who enjoys helping those going through challenging periods in their lives.

I never planned to pursue a career in Recreational Therapy. The profession pretty much found me. The crazy thing is that Recreational Therapy has been a part of my life way before I ever knew what it was.

I love that I’m able to use my creativity to come up with therapeutic interventions that will produce better outcomes for the people we serve.

What’s something someone might not know about your job?

People often have the misconception that we are just activities staff hired to play games like Bingo. While games like bingo are fun, we offer much more! 

We use a variety of modalities including, arts and crafts; sports, music, and dance; and community outings to help maintain and improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Everything we do has a goal in mind! We are here to help each person develop a healthier mind and body. Most importantly, we are here to empower participants to enjoy life and reach their goals every day!

What makes recreational therapy unique to the health care team? 

We have the same treatment goals. We just achieve them in a different way. We work to build on our client’s strengths and interests to achieve those goals. The idea is to improve an individual’s overall physical and mental well-being through a variety of activities.

Why do you enjoy working for Catholic Health Services?

I love that we are committed to our mission to provide high quality, patient-centered and compassionate care to the communities we serve.

Everyone truly works together to ensure they’re providing the best care. I love that it is easy to communicate with our leaders. It feels great to know that they support my ideas and all that I do for my residents.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s rewarding to see residents enjoying the activities and programs we’re implementing.

I enjoy watching them participate in our different activities like our horticulture therapy program, Green Thumb Gardening Club, or my therapeutic cooking program, Taste of Therapy.

These programs provide an avenue for them to pursue new leisure skills or renew interest in old leisure skills that they thought they couldn’t do anymore.

I love that I can change the narrative of recreational therapy; showing my patients that their disability doesn’t impair their ability to learn and grow!                     

At Catholic Health Services, we incorporate enjoyable intervention techniques to maximize and improve the well-being of our patient’s. For information about the recreational therapy and St. John’s Nursing Center visit