Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center make’s a real difference in people’s lives
Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center make’s a real difference in people’s lives
Warm temperatures, Caribbean Sea and dolphins – sounds like vacation? At the same time it is also a therapy form for people with a variety of disabilities. The Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center (CDTC) offers a 10 days intensive therapy programma were they apply a holistic treatment approach for both body and mind. At REHACARE 2018 we talked to Operations Manager Alette Borger about what makes CDTC so unique.
The Operations Manager of CDTC Alette Borger at their booth at REHACARE 2018. Curacao's Therapy & Research Center has been a regular guest at the trade fair for many years and thus remains in contact with former guests or answers questions from interested visitors on site.
Mrs. Borger, what makes the Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center the world's leading center for dolphin therapy?
Alette Borger: The Dolphin Assisted Therapy Program at Curacao is unique for its combination of different elements carefully composed that alltogether form a very effective therapy program for different types of patients to work towards a next step in their development.
First of all the involvement of the whole family is very important. The parents, brothers and sisters of a patient are usually the most important people in their lives and the ones who provide a great deal of the care. This is why they are closely involved in our therapy program to stimulate the optimal development of both patient and family.
The Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center has been designed to be as inspiring as possible.The center is located at the Curacao Sea Aquarium, directly on the Caribbean Sea. The climate and surroundings stimulate relaxation and positive motivation.
At CDTC we work with a multidisciplinary team of highly qualified therapists amongst which; physical-, speech-, occupational- and behavioral therapist and phycologists. All graduated from an academic study after which they have taken part in a 3 months intensive training in Dolphin Assisted Therapy.
Dolphins are of essential importance to our program. For us they are equal team members. The CDTC dolphins are Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and are known for their gentleness, curiosity, eagerness to learn and willingness to socialize with humans. Characteristics that make them perfect partners in therapy. The dolphins are trained for CDTC’s program and only perform in therapy. They live in spacious lagoons with a constant flow of fresh seawater.
To offer an effective as possible treatment for patients it is important to observe and work with both the body as well as the mind. For example, working on a physical development will be much more effective as soon as the patient enhances more self-confidence and reaches a higher state of relaxation. The multidisciplinary team of CDTC therefore enables and applies a holistic therapy approach. The strength of CDTC is to work with all aspects of the human being to be able to make a difference in each person’s life.
Why is a therapy stay on Curacao more promising than a "common" therapy?
Borger: CDTC offers a personalized two-week intensive program in which interaction with dolphins plays an essential role. The program is in the hands of certified and committed therapists that apply a multidisciplinary and holistic approach. It complements and reinforces the traditional therapy that patients are receiving at home. Connecting and interacting with dolphins stimulates and rewards patients to make progress. A dolphin can capture your attention, set you at ease and offers unique ways to motivate you. After a two-week program, our patients show significant improvements that had seemed impossible while at home. Progress is seen in: fine and gross motor skills, speech and language, cognitive development and social and functional life skills. This leads to physical development, better communication, more self-confidence, and more relaxation. A huge difference in the lives of patients and their families.
The strength of CDTC is to work with all aspects of the human being to be able to make a difference in each person’s life.
The program is designed for the treatment of patients of 3 years and older with special needs like autism and cerebral palsy, as well as people with psychological conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many of CDTC’s patients are children. Their parents, brothers and sisters are closely involved in our therapy program. There are valuable opportunities for parents and siblings, e.g. we have a fun and educational CDTClub for siblings and different workshops, such as relaxation technics, for the parents. Also a family psychologist is available for consultation with the parents. Overserving the therapy of the therapy child from a distance is an important part of the program as well the family swim with the dolphin.
Experiencing CDTC’s program as a family makes it easier to put the positive results into practice after you have returned home. It leads to greater understanding, strengthens the bond and often provides a lot of shared enjoyment.
The CDTC offers qualified therapists in cooperation with dolphins in an inviting Caribbean environment and a lot more services for the whole family.
How does the dolphin help your guests in their therapy?
Borger: The dolphin is a powerful motivator. Dolphins play a central role in the program. They are important supporters, amongst others in operant conditioning, which means that the interaction with the dolphin is also recognized as rewarding. Example: a therapist asks the patient with motor difficulties to lift its arm and reach out to the dolphin. As soon as it does, the dolphin reacts, and so can motivate the patient to repeat the exercise. That way the child quickly and easily gains control of a new situation and builds self-confidence.
The Hotel Dolphin Suites is a trustworthy partner of CDTC and will be upgraded in the next couple of years. To what extent will the conversion improve the infrastructure of the already wheelchair-accessible hotel?
Borger: Hotel Dolphin Suites is a separate company but works closely together with CDTC. The hotel celebrates its 10 years anniversary next year. Over the years Dolphin Suites has been developed from a therapy hotel for families that participate into the Dolphin Assisted Therapy Program to an accessible vacation accommodation for everyone, especially guests in a wheelchair. The accessible facilities have not changed over the years but additional services were added such as: grocery service (including pharmaceutical products), tour desk with accessible tours to discover Curacao, car rental that includes an accessible car, accessible Island transportation, extensive supply on assistive equipment, team of caretakers, dive instructor certified in handicap diving, the development of an accessible dolphin swim program at CDTC besides the therapy.
In the next two years the hotel will be expanded with 48 accessible accommodation, restaurant/bar facility, minimarket, wellness facilities and a second larger pool with a pool lift for our guests with special needs. The expansion will be completely wheelchair accessible again and will be designed with modern interior and facilities that are even more accessible based on the feedback of our guests received in the previous 10 years.
What do you expect from your attendance at REHACARE? Borger: For many years we are present at the REHACARE with an own booth and focus on the following main purposes:
Being available to persons and their families that are interested in participating in our therapy program. In a personal meeting at the booth we are able to provide visitors with extensive information about the program and answer all question they may have.
Meeting lots of former therapy families that like to experience a close connection again with us in person. On our booth we always have one of our therapists present that has built a great relationship with the participants and families during their therapy participation.
Being available to other parties/persons interested in more information about our therapy program. Usually we gain new contacts with different parties amongst which press, foundations, operators, therapists, specialists etc.
Being available for persons that search for job opportunities or internships.
For more information on CDTC and other therapy content as well as additional offerings, please visit booth J47 in hall 3.