In this study, a qualitative descriptive approach was used to further understand the experience and feelings of older people living in institutions about recreational physiotherapy. Nine participants met the inclusion criteria and were selected among 31 residents from two long-term care institutions in Brazil attending recreational activities in their care routines for more than once a week.
Recreational physiotherapy was described as a multicomponent exercise programme provided to a group of residents in order to 1) increase the level of physical activity, 2) improve their motor and functional skills (e.g., strength, flexibility and balance) and 3) develop social relationships. This involved background music and a few materials (e.g., balls, hula hoops, foam pool noodles). The programme was performed once a day during 45 to 60 minutes, three to five times a week. Exercises were supervised by instructors (physical activity students) who were requested to adapt each exercise to the participant’s needs and abilities, as the programme was open to all residents.
Demographic data were collected along with scores on the Mini-mental state examination (MMSE), Timed up and go-test (TUG) and Barthel index. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by a researcher (average duration: 30 minutes), based on guiding questions that still enabled free and additional expression by the participants. Audio recordings were made so that each word, silence, pause or emotion was recorded and assessed. A transcription was carried out anonymously, and another researcher analysed the video footage of participants (in common areas) attending a recreational physiotherapy session to assess their behaviours. A content analysis was then performed (reading, sorting, defining and classifying into meaningful units and defining themes).