Making Tech the Recreationist’s Friend & Ally
Considerations for Both Tech Adopters and Luddites
There are two very different types of technology users today: (1) those who love all things “tech” and don’t understand how anyone could exist today without looking at a device (including laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) at least 23 times/day; and (2) those who wish they could revert to simpler times and just talk to other people, write notes, and periodically pick up the phone and make a call.
Taken to extremes, both approaches to technology present problems. The overly committed can become so caught up in using so many different tech functions that they become ineffective in terms of actually “doing something,” and forget the importance of face-to-face connectivity. The under-committed end up losing out on the many advantages presented by the technology, such as saving time, doing basic repetitive functions and staying in touch with those they might otherwise lose connection with.
Think about yourself, and ask, “To which side of this continuum do I mostly lean?” Regardless of your bent, both types sometimes need help staying on track and focused on what makes sense!
The starting point in terms of using technology is to ask yourself “Will this help me?” if the answer is “yes,” then most people will accept it. If not, then we should ask “Will this help others who are important to my job and what I do?” If the answer is “yes,” then it really is a help to you too, and is easier to accept. If the answer is “no” to either of these questions, then you really should question the value and validity of using specific tech functions.
So what are good measures of “help?” Any technology that saves you time is an obvious help. For example, using a tablet to record scores and attendance for residents at a program, saves both time and trees. You do not have to write down the scores at the program, then go back to a binder and record scores. Furthermore, when it comes to adding up and calculating all that good information, the program does that for you. This means you are saving time at both ends – recording time and calculating time.
However, when you have a device in your hands, it can be tempting to use all the functions at your fingertips – even when they are not helpful. For example, recording that “Mary had a good time at today’s exercise session,” may be a waste of time. If you have already recorded a high score for Mary, and if this is a normal outcome for Mary, then don’t make such a note. It is redundant! Only take the time to record notes for variances or exceptions to the norm. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Good documentation captures what is different, such as better than normal, or worse than normal resident engagement, or reasons for why the person did not attend (because they normally do attend).
Regardless of your recreation role in the care setting, limited funding, increased complexity of care and heightened consumer and legislative requirements demand that we become as efficient as possible. So while we know the axiom “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen,” if we become too caught up in the documentation process, we end up with limited time to connect with and provide programs for our residents.
Taking the time to rigorously make the technology your friend is crucial to you success. It means you are taking positive step towards establishing balance between providing good recreation services, and capturing what you do in a way that reflects the significance of your work to everyone, and the positive impact it is having on the lives of your residents.