ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS
By Sandra Stimson ADC, CALA, CDP Executive Director,
Alternative Solutions in Long Term Care

Sandra Stimson has experience as a
corporate consultant, Corporate Trainer
and National Speaker. Her experience is
in long term care, as Activity Director,
Director of Alzheimer's Units and
Assistant Administrator of a 550 bed long
term care county home.  She is
Co-founder of Pet Express Pet Therapy
Club, is a Life Replay Specialist.  
Sandra implements dementia units
nationwide.  Sandra has written several
books, Volunteer Management
Essentials for Long Term Care and Pet
Express Pet Therapy Program. Sandra
has been a facilitator for Alzheimer's
support groups and is the Awards Chair
for the NJ Association of Activity
Professionals.  Sandra is the Executive
Director of
National Council of Certified
Dementia Practitioners
http://www.nccdp.org  

Alternative Solutions in Long Term
Care offers resources for health care
professionals in many areas of dementia
care, care plans, Snoezelen products,
dementia activity calendars, adult day
care calendars, sensory calendars,
reminisce videos for dementia, activity
books, and dates to remember, party
supplies,
resources and links.
Each Norman Rockwell print is
paired with a national standards of
Resident Rights and is
illustrated by a picture depicting
the "Resident Right."

click here to purchase resident
rights prints
THE ACTIVITY DIRECTOR
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings
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ACTIVITY DIRECTOR TODAY
Sandra Stimson
Corporate Activity Consultants Are a Plus
for Health Care Organizations
Article from Summer 2007 Long Term Care Newsletter

Corporations that utilize an Activity Consultant will see immediate results in the following
areas:

  • Competitive edge over their competition
  • Deficiency free survey’s
  • Continuity of Activity departments
  • Increase in customer satisfaction scores
  • Trained Activity Directors & staff
  • Strong programming to meet the individual needs of your clients
  • Documentation compliance
  • Strong volunteer programs & community involvement
  • Awareness of community resources
  • New systems implemented
  • Continuity among their facilities
  • Deadlines met because of training in time management

Many health care organizations are utilizing Activity Consultants because long term care
facilities have poor surveys, inexperienced directors (lack qualifications) or a department
with major concerns in areas of programming and documentation. With the new guidelines it
is imperative that corporations recognize the need for an Activity consultant who can pin
point any areas that are of concern and fix those problems before your annual survey. Many
corporations make the mistake of bringing in a consultant during the survey window. That is
not recommended as Activity Directors and the Activity Consultant need adequate time to
isolate the problems, make recommendations, and implement new systems.

Some Activity Directors view the consultant as a threat to their job but on the contrary they
should view the time and money the corporation is investing on the consultant as a “gift.”
The Activity Consultants have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge. The Activity
Director should utilize the time with the consultant to gather as much information and
resources from the consultant as possible. As most consulting jobs are short term contracts
the Activity Director has a limited time with the consultant. As long as the Activity Director is
moving forward and implementing the recommendations, the Activity Director has no reason
to be insecure about their job. In the long run, the Activity Director will have a better
department and confidence in her performance. Activity Consultants want to see the Activity
Director succeed.

Often times the consultant is called in by the Administrator or the Corporation. Generally
when the Corporation calls in a Consultant it is to provide systems and programs that are
offer continuity with their facilities. When the Administrator contacts with an Activity
Consultant it’s generally because there are areas of concern. The Administrator needs to be
open and forthright about the reasons for hiring the consultant. This will insure that the
relationship begins on the right foot; otherwise the director will view the consultant as a
threat and with a hidden agenda.

Additionally, Activity Directors who feel there are areas that they need training should be
honest with the Administrator about those concerns. The Activity Director should discuss
with the Administrator the reasons for bringing in a consultant.

The Activity Director may know a consultant they feel comfortable with and may wish to
recommend that consultant. But when this happens, remember, it does no one any good if
you are hiring a “friend” consultant just to provide positive feed back. We all want that! But it’
s more important to the director to hire a consultant who will be objective and provide
information and guidance. If the Activity Director feels that this can be accomplished than go
forward with hiring the Consultant.

I am often asked, “once the consultant is hired, now what?” That is a great question. Often
times this is the first time a facility or corporation has utilized an Activity Consultant. The
Administrator should ask for references and feed back from previous corporations.

During the first visit, the Activity Consultant provides an initial comprehensive audit in the
areas of documentation, observations, review of programs and compliancy with state and
federal guidelines. Based on the initial audit, the Consultant will meet with the Administrator
to discuss recommendations, systems to be implemented and the amount of time on site
required to insure implementation. A comprehensive report is provided to the administrator
that will state the area of concerns and specific recommendations. The Activity Director is
provided with written objectives and time frames.

Alternative Solutions has provided consulting services for seven years with 100% deficiency
free surveys for our clients. 100 % success to an Administrator might mean a positive
outcome during survey. However, for the consultant it is the satisfaction of training a director
to be a top notch Activity Director in all aspects such of their job; management, program
development, population and calendar analysis, documentation, community resources, room
bound programs and volunteer programs.

For those facilities that are seeking other accreditation the consultant can provide valuable
information. Many facilities are implementing dementia units and rehab units. The consultant
can bring all kinds of programming ideas, resources, policies, training, in-services and
systems to the facility which enables the facility to stay competitive as well as insuring a
positive outcome during survey.

Additionally, consultants are used when the director does not meet state or federal
regulations and lacks the qualifications. They can also be used to fill in for an activity
director who is out on leave, vacant positions and oversight of a director does not meet
federal or state requirements.

  • Activity Consultants provide many services:
  • Training and in-services
  • Activity Courses (NCCAP 180 MEPAP REV 2)
  • Training for Activity Directors (Management, Documentation, Q/A, Calendar planning
    and implementation, Q/A, Resident Council, etc)
  • Calendar and Population Analysis Tools
  • Implement state and federal guidelines
  • Implement standard of practice protocols
  • Survey readiness –on site visit
  • Implement special programs for Alzheimer’s and dementia, low functioning, Sensory
    enrichment programs, bed bound, room bound, NPO, sensory rooms
  • High Functioning programs, committees, empowerment, self esteem, wellness,
    community involvement, spiritual, independent, etc
  • Documentation compliance – Initial assessments, progress notes, MDS, care plans,
    IDCP notes individual participation, group participation
  • Compliance for Quality Indicator Reports
  • Calendar review
  • Q/A Program
  • Activity Policy and Procedures
  • Volunteer Management Program which includes policy and procedures, recruitment,
    training, recognition, applications, welcome packet.
  • Referral of numerous resources
  • Recruitment

Companies may hire a consultant for a one day audit, weekly, monthly or even daily
oversight of the activity departments. They provide on-site and off-site consulting and
generally are available by email and phone should the situation arise. They are sometimes
asked to be there during a survey.

So the most important question I would ask the owners of facilities is why you don’t have a
corporate consultant? Because you can invest wisely now or pay penalties later. As there
are a limited number of consultants it would be in the best interest of the facility to contract
with a consultant now and take the necessary steps to insure your activity department is in
compliance.

I recently worked for one corporation who was honest enough to say, “activities were not an
area they had invested in before.” They were unsure of what the consultant would provide
and I think were amazed not only by what we could bring to the departments but the
changes they saw in their activity program and quality of life for their residents. They saw
how the investment paid off with deficiency free surveys and an increase in customer
satisfaction scores. It’s never too late to begin working with a Activity Consultant as it can
only be of benefit to the Activity Director, residents and the corporation.

If you are concerned about your department or just want an objective opinion of the Activity
Department contact Sandra Stimson for information at activitytherapy@aol.com. All
correspondence is held in the strictest of confidence.
- END
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