Our Story

Recognizing the need in the community for individualized and meaningful respite solutions, Amy MacFarlane took on the dedication and commitment to creating Recreational Respite (April 2008).

Amy is a strong advocate for inclusion, accessibility and removing all barriers to participation in social environments, including community. She also believes in ’nothing about us, without us’ which includes those with disabilities in the creation and implementation of services provided by Recreational Respite. Her own family members and hands-on expertise supporting those in care giving roles and families in crisis is united with extensive education in therapeutic recreation, gerontology, psychogeriatrics, complex mental health, neurological support and most currently (2015- present) her work towards her PhD in Critical Disability Studies.

Amy believes in only collaborative efforts to maximize support and minimize the dollars required to deliver optimal services and programs to individuals we work with and has partnerships with both social enterprise, profit and not for profit organizations to ensure it happens. This commitment to knowledge transfer and sharing through teaching and keynote speaking has also led her to a variety of other positions in education as a Professor of Entrepreneurship and as a Mentor in her community for Entrepreneurs. Amy’s international projects include those with disabilities and have impact spreading ideas, sharing thoughts and processes around developing inclusive communities for those with disabilities who otherwise face barriers to participation. Amy’s years of experience started in the field of neurological rehabilitation and psycho-geriatrics where she was a personal support worker in Toronto, ON in a hospital setting, community care and long term care homes, palliative and hospice and for those living in the community with complex mental health. Amy was most intrigued by the passion and energy in the therapeutic recreation staff and a social model of care which then led to continued studies in therapeutic recreation, health sciences and disability studies.

In addition to Recreational Respite, her advocacy for family caregivers led Amy to become a Partner and Communications Director for Family Caregivers Unite! in 2009 with host, Dr. Gordon Atherley. FCGU! is a social media project of international scope that supports, connects and empowers family caregivers caring for family members with special and other needs to tune in to various topics that are relevant to their roles. It now has a listenership of over 1,000,000 people, internationally. The show is accessible for free though iTunes, satellite radio and offers over 400+ archived on-demand episodes, found here: http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/1669/family-caregivers-unite

Amy is also a member of the Standards Council of Canada‘s Vulnerable Persons Committee and recently represented Canada at BSI headquarters (London, UK 2018) to assist in the development of ISO 22458.

Our Founder has also been nominated for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“Very excited to be a part of this great event (as a nominee). I’m truly humbled. It’s been amazing to grow, innovate and advocate as a team for the sole purpose of identifying and removing barriers to participation for those with disabilities and mental health-across Canada and abroad. Always ensuring along the way, ‘nothing about us, without us!’ – Amy MacFarlane, Founder and CEO, Recreational Respite



Highlights of Work Abroad
Kuwait, December of 2014Amy was chosen as an international expert in her field and invited to visit Kuwait City to teach various therapeutic recreation tools, techniques and approaches at a day program for Adults with special needs (21+), Markaz 21. Many of whom had post Gulf War challenges: developmentally and intellectually and complex mental health. While there, she was asked to lecture at the University of Gulf for Science and Technology to speak to business students and promote the innovative business development approaches she has used here in Canada and more specifically, how for-profit and not-for-profit organizations can work together to create quality recreation programming.

Sydney, Australia, September 2015: Amy was asked to be the international keynote speaker at the National Respite Conference that was hosted in Sydney, Australia.  The topic was Respite in Canada and it’s successes and challenges.  Whilst there, she also did a podcast interview with Community West (a community agency of home care) in Perth, Australia and discussed innovation in respite and support to caregivers and what was working well in various settings.

Edinburgh Scotland, September 2016: Amy MacFarlane is one of the international keynote speakers at the ISBA Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, 2016

The International Short Break Association (ISBA) was established in 1995 and is a world-wide ‘community’ concerned with the effective delivery of short breaks (respite care) services. ISBA exists to create opportunities to share knowledge and experience of short break provision across international and cultural boundaries.  ISBA’s purpose is to support developments in policy and practice which improve the experience of short breaks for everyone.   Underpinning this is a shared belief that short breaks play a vital role in promoting health and well-being, and in strengthening carers and families.

Amy is a proud Mom of 2, lover of life’s moments and is a passionate advocate for many including her amazing team of Recreation Therapists.

Twitter: @recrespite and @chloesfriendden
Facebook: www.facebook.com/recreationalrespite
Instagram: recrespite or chloesfriendden

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