Dear Debbie:
By Debbie Hommel, BA,  ACC, CTRS, Executive Director of DH Special Services
23 SEP


Debbie Hommel, BA,  ACC, CTRS is
the Executive Director of DH Special
Services. She is a Certified Activity
Consultant on State and National level,
with over twenty-seven years of
experience in providing direct care and
consultation to long term care, medical
day care, assisted living, and ICF/MR
with over twenty-seven years of York,
Maryland, and Pennsylvania. She is an
experienced trainer and workshop
presenter, conducting a variety of
seminars throughout the Tri-State area
for the Activity Professional,
Administrator, and allied healthcare
professional. Debbie Hommel is an
active member of Activity Professional
Associations on State and National
levels. She is ACC certified through the
NCCAP. She is a founding member of
the New Jersey Activity Professionals'
Association, serving terms as Vice
President and President. She received
the Weidner Lifetime Achievement
Award in 1994 and the Monmouth &
Ocean County Activity Professionals
Life Achievement Award in 1999.
Have a question you'd like a professional Activity
consultant to answer?  
Ask Debbie Hommel
click here
Please type "Dear Debbie" in the subject line
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Questions & Answers:
Question:  I'm a 50 yr. old mother of 4 grown children and looking at a career change. My son is a Junior in high school and now its
time for me to take care of me.  I'm looking at working in a nursing home in NJ as an activities
assistant.  I'm interested in a home study program so I can get certified.  Can you advise me?

 Welcome to the world of activities.  It is a great profession and a very busy one in NJ.
I would suggest you look around at some of the area nursing homes,assisted living communities and day programs to see if anyone
is hiring.  I have a job board on my site, with many positions listed.

As far as training - there are lots of courses you could take.  I have several shorter programs listed on my site which provide an
introductory look at some topics.  The longer, MEPAP course is the qualify credential to be a director in NJ and is applicable toward
national certification.

You can check it all out on my site at If you have any specific questions, once you look at the site - feel free
to e-mail me back.

Question:  I have been a CAD for 6 yrs, I heard that It is mandatory that we take the 90 hour
course to stay an activity director,and that it has to be done before  6/2011.  Could please shed some light on this for
me, I'd be very grateful.

 Hi, I have been in touch with Donna Tennant who is a MEPAP instructor in WV and also the state representative for NCCAP.  
There are some changes occurring in WV state regulations and I encourage you to discuss them with Donna.  They are including the
MEPAP course in the regulations and I am not sure how that will affect you.  I would suggest you discuss this with Donna.
Donna offers the course in the classroom setting and said she is starting one this fall.  If that does not work out, I  offer the course
through independent study as well.  

Question:  Is there a required time frame on the length of one to one visits?

 There is no defined time mandate for the length of a 1-1 visit.  The federal regs and most state regs use the language of
providing interventions "according to need".  Some residents may need a 30 minute or more visit while other residents would not
benefit beyond a five minute visit.  That should be determined through the initial assessment and defined in care plan.  
Sorry I am not much more help than that.

Question:  Hello. I am having trouble getting MSDS sheets on items in my dept. When I look on the internet, so many pop up and I
still don't find what I am looking for? Any suggestions??

 I have better luck go through the manufacturer. I go to the manufacturer web site and  I put MSDS in search engine on site.  
Sometimes information comes up and sometimes it doesn't.  If I can't find it that way, I send an e-mail to customer service and they are
usually quick to respond.  If there is a 1-800 number on the product, I sometimes call that and they are helpful.  If it is a company you
buy regularly from like S & S or Nasco, I contact customer service and they are often helpful too.
Sorry I am not much more help that that.  But, I do agree - there are a million sites out there for MSDS info and they are hard to navigate.
Good luck

Question:  Can an LPN become an Activity Professional?

 Anybody can become an activity professional if they want to.  You would have to accrue some activity experience, complete
the MEPAP course and you could become certified at some point.  Do you mean does the LPN act as the single qualifying credential to
be an activity director?  That would vary from state to state and setting but I doubt it.  You would need some  experience
and training, specific to activities to qualify for the position.   
If you need more information, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  Where does one find classes for Activities Professional?
I have looked on the do you know what is legitimate and what is not.
Can Activities Professional classes be found in a community college?
Thanks for your time.

 If you are looking for a class that will be accepted by the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals - you want to
stick with the instructors listed there.  If they are listed as instructors - they are "legitimate" meaning they have gone through the NCCAP
training and have formal approval for their program.
You can find the instructors on the NCCAP site at

If you are looking for a classroom course - you should contact the instructors in your state and discuss their course schedules and
If you are looking for an independent study version - you should also contact those instructors and see how their courses are set up.  
We all do our course a little bit differently - although we follow the same curriculum.

Some states offer the course through colleges - you can see that on the NCCAP site through some of the contact information listed.  
But not all states offer it that way.

You can see information about my independent study course on my site.   I offer the course in NJ and through independent
study as well.  If you have any questions about the program, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  I am in N.E. Ohio & have been working in the same LTC facility in activities for 9 years. I have been the activity director
here for 1 year. I need to get certified. I understand all about the requirements for certification. For track 4 it states that I need 12
college credits. My question is; I am an LPN & have let my licence laps. I am having alot of dificulty finding out if my LPN could in
any way be applied  toward these college credits.  I graduated nursing school in 1989. Any insight or
help you could offer would be so much appreciated.

Very sorry for delay in responding.  
The 12 college credits must be from an accredited college or university.  If you took some regular college courses to complete your
LPN in a college - they should count.
You would need to get a transcript from your college verifying the coursework you completed.  You would need to have an English
course, in addition to a few others.

If you have additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  I was certified in the state of Ohio and now reside in the state of Indiana. Indiana does not accept my 90 hour
certification and I have worked as a Activity Director for several years. My question is do you know if the state
of Ky recognizes my certification because I live over the border of Kentucky and Indiana.  If not what do I do to get national
certified or do you have any suggestions please help!

Your best bet is to obtain national certification.  That will be recognized in whatever state you work. If you have the MEPAP I
(first 90 hour), you may qualify for NCCAP certification on some level.  To become Activity Director Provisionally Certified - you need any
combination of the following three
Mepap I
Mepap II
12 college credits
30 hours continuing education
6000 hours work experience within past five years.

If you have any three of those components, you could qualify for ADPC and then you have six years to obtain the remaining two
components and become ADC certified.  I have attached the NCCAP standards and application to this e-mail. If you need assistance
completing the application, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  I currently work in a skilled nursing home for the aged in the activities department. I am the lead coordinator of resident
programs & services. I've been in this department for about 1 year now but at the organization for
3yrs. I am looking to take courses to eventually become an activity director. I am still a college student (off and on) but do not have
my degree yet. I heard there was an Activity Director certification course but I am not having any luck finding it. Can you guide me
in the right direction of where I need to look? I am in California. I greatly appreciate any help
you can give this aspiring activity professional. I get so much fulfillment from working with the elderly! Many thanks!

 There are two instructors in California who offer the MEPAP course which is the nationally recognized course for the activity

You would have to contact them directly to see when and where they are offering the course.  
Another option may be to take the course through independent study.  There are a number of instructors who offer it that way also and
you can get the list from the NCCAP site at

I offer the course through independent study and you can start the program at any time.  You can access information about my course
on my web site at

If you have any additional questions - feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  Dear Debbie,Can you please tell me where can i get a free download  care plan or a free manual?

 I honestly don't know of anyplace you can download a whole manual for care planning.  I have a lot of free items on my site
about documentation - with a few related to care planning.  They might help.
Here is another site with free care plan information :

Sorry I am not much more help than that.

Question:  What are guidelines for determining what resident needs 1:1 visits?

 If you work in a nursing home, there is mention of providing 1-1 visits within the guidance to f-248.  Depending on what state
you work in, there may be additional state guidelines as well.  I wrote a few articles on providing 1-1 visits and suggested standards in
previous issues of the Activity Director Today.  You can find them by looking in the archives under my name.
Hope that helps.  If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  I would like to know if I can do ones to ones for 15 minutes once a week .

 Even though there are no formal mandates regarding how much time a 1-1 visit should consist, once a week for 15 minutes
does not seem enough to me.  The length of visit and frequency of visits should be determined by need, assessment and care plan.  
Some residents benefit from more frequent, shorter visits and other residents would benefit from a longer visit.  To regulate it to one
visit or a 15 minute visit per person is not individualized care.  I know time constraints are a concern to most activity professionals but 1-
1 visits can be provided by more than just the activity department.  Volunteers, interdisciplinary staff as well as activity professionals
can provide visits.  Again, these should be defined within the plan of care and directed by individual need.
I wrote a couple of articles on developing a 1-1 program which you can fine in the archives of the Activity Director's Office - under my

Question:  What are guidelines for determining what resident needs 1:1 visits?

 There are no formal guidelines but basic standards would define the following residents as needing 1-1 visits:
      -those who have verbalized they do not want to participate in groups nor socialize with others
      -any resident who cannot leave their room for various physical, cognitive or psycho-social reasons
      -the short term resident is sometimes a candidate for 1-1 visits as they are busy with therapy and generally do not attend a lot of
groups and spend non-therapy time in their rooms
      -any resident on hospice or at end of life would be a 1-1 candidate if they may be remaining in their rooms
      -the very low functioning and frail resident who may not be out of bed for extended periods of time and cannot join actively within
      -any resident on isolation
The assessment should determine individual needs - whether they be driven by physical or cognitive limitations.  1-1 contact and
approaches can be provided by the activity/recreation staff as well as interdisciplinary staff, volunteers and families.  On going
stimulation, in the form of appropriate television, music, diversional and leisure materials, should be available in the room as well.

Hope that helps.  I have a great independent study program on 1-1 program available on my site as well, which has lots of ideas for all
levels of functioning.

Question:  Currently, I work at ----  as an Activity Assistant; however, I am interested in working as a Director.    Therefore, that
points me in your direction.  Where can I locate a course so that I can be certified as an
Activities Director in Delaware?

 Sandra Dole is the only approved MEPAP instructor in Delaware.
Sandra Dole    302-684-2755  
You would have to contact her directly to see when and where she is conducting the course.  
I also offer the course through independent study which you can start at any time and complete at your own pace.

There are other instructors who offer the course this way as well and you can access their information on the NCCAP site at http://www.

If you need any additional information about becoming certified - feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  Can I be certified provisionally as an Activities Director without the experience or volunteer work?  I have taken a 60 hr
state course in NC that included very little practicum.  However, I am taking the Bridge the Gap Course and will have at least 30
hours when it is complete.  I do realize this is no where needed hours.  I have some college, but no degree.  I am
having a hard time trying to decide which level to strive for.

 To be ADPC certified - you would need any three of the five defined components which are MEPAP I, MEPAP II, 12 college
credits, 6000 hours experience within past five years and 30 hours continuing education. So, if you have at least twelve college credits
and if the bridge the gap course plus the 60 becomes equivalent to MEPAP I - that would be two components.
You could pursue ADPC certification if you acquired another 30 hours of continuing education.   So, it sounds like you could pursue the
ADPC without the direct work experience - if you obtain the additional 30 hours continuing education and if you have the appropriate 12
college credits and if the two courses you take in NC would become equivalent to the MEPAP I.
Feel free to e-mail with any questions you might have.
I have several independent study programs which would count toward the 30 hours of continuing education available on my web site.
Currently, I work at HCR Manor Care as an Activity Assistant; however, I am
interested in working as a Director.    Therefore, that points me in your
direction.  Where can I locate a course so that I can be certified as an
Activities Director in Delaware?


Question:  I live in MD and I am interested in working with the senior population.  What is it that one must do to be an adtivities
assistant or director.  I will go to the website you suggested.

 If you are looking for classes which can prepare you to work with elders in long term care facilities, you should consider
taking the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals.  This course was developed by the National Certification Council of
Activity Professionals which is the only certifying body for activity professionals working in long term care.  You can check out their site

There are several instructors in your state and you can contact them directly to see when and where they are holding their classes.

There is also an activity association in your state which might help you get
into the profession.

If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  I am a 50 year old Activities Director in a Nursing and Rehab Facility in OHIO.  I previously worked at an Assisted Living
Facility.  I am very much interested in becoming certified.  I do not have a college degree, so if I
am correct, I cannot become Nationally certified.  What is the very first step I should take to become certified.  I spoke with a
place that offers the MEPAP courses and at the current time they are offering MEPAP II.  I
asked if I could take the MEPAP II before the MEPAP I and she said yes, you could do that.  However, what I've been finding on the
internet is that I should take MEPAP I before II.  Please help me in getting started.  Thank

The MEPAP 2nd Edition was meant to be taught in sequential order, meaning part I before part II.
NCCAP does not have a mandate saying you must take part I before part II but it is implied in our instructor materials.
Personally, I do not allow students to take the course out of order but that is my policy.  Some instructors allow the course to be taken
out of sequence but that is their policy.

The point of taking part I before part II is that it provides you with a foundation for the information in part II.
The disadvantage of taking part II first is you might be a bit lost on certain topics.  
Your options might be to find out when Part I is being offered and just wait and take it in the right order.
A second option is to take the course via independent study and take it in the right order. I offer the course that way and you can access
information about it on my web site at Once you complete part I, you could apply for NCCAP certification
as an ADPC, if you accrue 30 hours of continuing education.

Then work toward a level change by taking Part II and then the 12 college credits.
Good luck and if you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  I live in Maryland and will like to become activity direction but i do not know where to receive the training.

 You can find all the instructors on the NCCAP web site (  - under approved instructors.  There are instructors
in Maryland.  You would have to contact them directly to find out their current class locations.  

I teach the class through independent study and you can start the class at any time and complete it at your own pace.
You can access information about my class on my web site at

If you have any additional questions about the course, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  Hi, my ACD is leaving for an administration job mid-July.I have been the Assistant (uncertified) since Oct of last year is
there anyway to become an ADC in an reasonably short time so that I can be the ADC so the residents' routines at my facility
aren't changed too much. I know the path our current activities department is taking, and I not only would love the position for
personal reasons but for my residents as well. I just want to be better informed when I talk to my Administrator and DON

 It is hard to suggest the fastest route for you to become nationally certified without knowing your work/educational history.
You can access the application and standards from To sum it all up - you would need MEPAP I and II, three years
experience within past five years, 30 hours continuing education within past five years and 12 college credits (including an english) to
fulfill the ADC certification standards.  If you have a bachelors degree - you would only need two years work experience.
You could go for ADPC which is activity director provisionally certified - if you have any three of those five requirements I mentioned.
But, if you e-mail me back with what you have - we can figure out your quickest path.


Question:  I am looking for a college or a place that gives the Activity 90 hour course. My place of employment is in Wilmington,
Ohio. Do you have any list of places that would be available?

 There are several NCCAP approved instructors in your state.  You can access the list on the NCCAP web site at http://www.
You would have to access each of them individually to see where and when they are offering the course in Ohio.  There are also
several instructors who offer the course through independent study.  They are also listed on that page.  I offer the course through
independent study and you can access that information on my web site at
If you need any additional information, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  I was curious if you know any book stores that would or could donate any You
Be The Judge series that entails overall group interaction and open-ended discussions about the court cases. Please let me
know.. Thank You

 I would suggest you check e-bay as sometimes they have activity books at a reduced cost.  You can also check the NCCAP
bulletin board as they have a "swap" section.  You can post that you are looking for these books and maybe someone will be willing to
trade with you or donate them.
You can also search "mock court scenarios" in Yahoo or google search.  There are lesson plans and such that come up which are to
be used in High school government classes.  Some of those are free and might work.

Question:  Our administrator says activities is every body's job. Well I agree but no one wants to help transport.... we tried give
aways and different stuff but nothing works.  What can we do to get staff to help more? And also we provide activities all year
long for staff and residents but get no appreciation.  That saddens me that there are no awards that i know of for activities.
House keeping and kitchen have awards they get every year. Any ideas on how we can get recognized?? or any awards you know

 I think it is wonderful your administrator recognizes the interdisciplinary importance of activity in your home.  However making
it happen is always a challenge.  What about creating a committee which has members from every department and working
collectively to come up with ideas and programs to promote involvement?  What about each department head volunteering to run one
activity per month?  If their staff see them running activities - they might also participate.
As far as departmental recognition - there are two months we can toot our horn and that is January - National Activity Professionals'
Month/Week and July - National Therapeutic Recreation Month.  Maybe next time - when one of the catalogs which sell
promotional/recognition materials crosses your desk
-  prior to our month - place it on your administrator's desk with preferred items circled.  Or maybe you can just buy recognition
materials for you and your staff and throw you and your department a party (charge it to facility
budget).   Sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns, so to

Question:  It seems in our Facility its ok to come into Activities and give medicine make loud noises we have signs on the doors to
not enter Activities are in Process but that does not stop anyone.the other day here came a nurse 20 mintues late with Medicine
and the entire Activity had to stop then she had 4 more to give me and DON had some words was I right or wrong?I feel she
should have taken the Residents out to give medicine just need your input.

 Staff interrupting activities is always frustrating.  Having a sign on the door to remind staff to be discreet when entering the
room is one approach.  Inservicing staff consistently on the disrupting aspect of interuptions is also necessary.  Unfortunately, "having
words with a department head" is often not the most productive appraoch to problems and conflict.   I have found that most people
think their job is the most important one in the facility.  The nurse thinks what they do is most important - the dietary director thinks what
they do is most important and so on.  Everyone is very focused on their "job" and it is not unusual for the individual to step on the toes
of other department in their effort to do their own job (which is most important to them).  
Sometimes, you need to take a deep breath, step back and re-group.  
I would agree - interuppting an activity to give meds is not appropriate.  There is a regulation (guidance under federal regulation F-248)
which supports this.

"If not contraindicated, timing the administration of medications, to the extent possible,
to avoid interfering with the resident’s ability to participate or to remain at a scheduled activity;"
I would suggest meeting with the nursing director and other members of the team to share your concerns and the guidance to the
regulation.  In a calm manner, solutions should be defined and agreed upon.  Everyone should be focused on the needs and best
interests of the resident - not their own turf or who is right or wrong.  Finger pointing is rarely successful.  If everyone could agree that
they want to provide the best for the residents, an agreeable solution should be found.

Question:  I'm interested in becoming a NCCAP certified activity director. I'm going to apply for the provisional certification. Can
you recommend a in person taught or online hybrid MEPAP course in Washington, DC Metro Area?  I appreciate the help!

 You can find all the instructors on the NCCAP web site (  - under approved instructors.  There are instructors
in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.  You would have to contact them directly to find out their current
class locations.    
I teach the class through independent study and you can start the class at any time and complete it at your own pace.
You can access information about my class on my web site at

If you have any additional questions about the course, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  Can you tell me the salary of an Activity Director in long term care facility in NY state?

 I do not have any salary surveys from NY state.  Our state (NJ) has done salary surveys through the past several years.  I am
not sure of how NJ salaries compare to NY.  I would think they are fairly comparable?
I am attaching the most recent salary survey to this email.
You may also contact a consultant in NY who teaches the MEPAP - she may have more information as to the salaries in that area.  Her
web site is

Question:  Is it possible to become certified w/o a field placement?

 To become certified through NCCAP, you need a minimum of one year experience for AAC.  Of that one year, 20% of the
hours can be volunteer hours.
But, you do need some practical experience to qualify for the certification.
In addition, to complete the MEPAP class, there is a mandatory practicum experience.  You cannot complete the course without it. Not
sure if that answered your question, but feel free to e-mail me for further information if you need it.

Question:  I am very interested in working with the elderly.  I have spent many years working with children but as I get older I find
my heart being drawn toward the elderly. I am a 48 year old female with no college experience. I live in NJ & would like to find a
certificate program which would help me enter the activities field. Are there any certificate programs in NJ which do not require
college, or only minimal college credits? There are so many courses/programs offered online but I am leery since I don't know
which are "legitimate" & would be recognized as credible by potential employers. I have no idea how/where to begin this journey,
or even what title or positions are available in the activities field. I
desperately need direction. Thank you so much!

 Welcome to the world of activities for the elderly.  It is a rewarding field and many people feel themselves drawn to it, as you
The certificate program you are looking for is called the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals. It is a 180 hour course,
with a 180 hour practicum (internship like experience).  It is usually taught in two parts (180 hour each).  I teach the class in NJ and you
can access information about my class on my web site at My next class begins in September and will be
in Riverton (Burlington County). If you let me know where you live, we could see if you will be near one of my classes or we could find
you an instructor closer to you.
I also teach the class through independent study. You are right to be concerned about the legitimacy of programs. However, if it is
approved through the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals, it does meet the standards set out by the credentialing

As far as what jobs are available, it is a growing field and in NJ - there are always many positions.  You can check out the jobs on my
job board, on my site.

If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  Hi,I have been a director for 6 yrs and I recently started a new facility which consist of nursing and skilled rehab unit. I
was told that activities does not have to write a care plan unless the R' triggers a rap is this true? When a R' in the skilled that is
not a bed hold goes to the hospital for a day or two and come back they said we needed a whole new assessment even if their
interest are the same is this true. Thank you

To answer the care plan question - even if we do not trigger -we should be interfacing and supporting whatever issues are on
the care plan. We may not trigger in activities but there may be other issues we can assist with such as cognitive loss, behavior,
ambulation and other interdisciplinary issues.
In those cases, I would add interventions to those issues.
As far as the re-admission documentation - I know in NJ - we can leave the chart "open" for 30 days and then just write a re-ad note
when they return.
We don't do a whole new assessment unless there are changes.  Not knowing what state you are from, not sure if it is different.  It may
be a facility policy that you treat each admission and re-admission as a new admission.  

Question:  our population of Residents that smoke has grown in the past year.  All smoking material is stored until scheduled
smoke time. This has become a problem,because Nursing has said the smoking is an activity, and Activity staff is responsible for
all smoke times which is every two hours during the day.  That leaves little time for other duties. Is smoking considered a true

I think for people who smoke, they consider it an activity.  But from a therapeutic activity/recreation perspective, my opinion is
that it is not a therapeutic activity as defined in state and federal regulations.  I agree with you - the time it takes to manage the safety
needs of residents who smoke does take away from  the required duties of the department such as running programs.  I also find that
if residents who smoke see the activity department as the ones distributing cigarettes, they frequently ask for a cigarette throughout
any programs we might conduct.  

Have you done a time study of your staff and how much time is devoted to assisting with smoking vs. running activities?  Can you prove
that your hours are deficient in terms of meeting minimum guidelines for activities because of the time devoted to assisting with

In some facilities, they have hired a person just to assist residents with smoking.  They are called "Smoke aides" and their function is
to distribute and light cigarettes and monitor smoking area.  That has solved the problem for activities.

But, I agree with you - I would not be happy if my department were responsible for monitoring the smoking needs of the residents.

Question: MY cousin has a degree in early childhood ed and a BA in management,  what should she do to become an activity

 There are different requirements per each state and per level of care (nursing home, medical day care centers and assisted
National certification through the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals ( is a commonly recognized
credential throughout the country.

College credits are necessary for the national certification application, along with work experience in providing activities for elders in a
care setting and continuing education.  The Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals is a course that prepares the
individual for the job as well as certification.

I have information about the MEPAP course on my site.

If you need more information, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  How often are notes in the charts suppose to be done? Before i did an assessment form for new admission, then a 14
day then a quarterly, and annual. Now i do an initial assessment a 14 day, a 30 day a 60 day, quarterly, and annual. What is
required by state for the activity notes?

 State regulations are different than federal - so I can't really quote state regs - not knowing your state.
What you described though was the difference between long term care residents and short term or medicare.
Medicare has the time frames of 5, 14, 30, 60 and 90.  If it is typical long term care, an initial assessment within 14 days and quarterly
notes every 90 days will suffice.  
If you tell me which state you are from, I could better help in that area.

Question:  My daughter is looking for locations in Texas to go to get certified as a nursing home activities director.  She lives close
to Paris, Tyler, and Dallas, TX.

 Here is a listing of the instructors in Texas who offer the MEPAP class.


Question:  I am a volunteer coordinator in a nursing home in new jersey and i wanted to know what are the policies and
procedures for doing background checks on volunteers?

 Policies and Procedures are established by the facility.  So, it is up to the facility to decide how to handle this sort of thing.

The regulations do not mandate such checks on volunteers.  There are very few regulations regarding management of volunteers at all.

The facility has to ensure the safety of the residents.  However they choose to do that, is facility policy.  
In my experience, it is good to check references.  I understand true back ground checks are expensive and time consuming.

If the volunteer is properly screened, interviewed, oriented and supervised
- that should ensure the safety of the resident.

You might want to check with some of the volunteer association in NJ, to see what they say.

Question:  My son recently moved to California and  has an extensive background working at assisted living/nursing homes.  Can
you suggest the best route for applying for  Activities Director positions in California.

 From what I understand - California recognizes a 36 hour course for the activity professional and wants the activity director to
have two years of experience, with one being in a patient activities program in a health care setting.  If you have national certification
through MCCAP, that should stand for something and would meet Federal regulations.

I would suggest you focus on your knowledge of the elderly and your programming skills.  It should transcend from yor previous state
to California.
You might want to obtain a copy of the California regulations for whatever setting you are applying in.
Having some understanding of the regulations in your new state would be most helpful.

Question:  We need some new ideas for QA.

 Not knowing what you do now - hard to suggest new ideas.
Are you using a set of forms that are in your facility? Are you creating forms and criteria based on issues and situations in your facility?
Traditional QA forms focus on group observation, resident satisfaction, chart audits, resident council review, 1-1 visits, environmental
review, calendar review and similar tasks.  Are you or have you done these types?  
I do offer a QA independent study program on my web site.
There are not too many forms in the program but it does tell you how to create programs and such.

Question:  I have been working in a living assisted for 4 yrs with all levels of Alzheimers and dementia. I need to get certified.  This
is San Francisco. Where can I go?

 I know California offers the 36 hour course.  I do not know any of the instructors. In order to become nationally certified, you
would need to take the MEPAP course.
I do not think the MEPAP course is taught in California.  The MEPAP course is also offered through independent study.  I offer the
course that way and you can read about it on my web site. What is your goal?  To meet California
requirements? Or to become nationally certified?

Question:  Hi, I work with a short term skilled rehab unit and it seems they don't want to participate in group act. to tired from
therapy or recovering and just wanting to go home any ideas .Most do
independent act. and have visitors.

 It is not unusual for those resident who are admitted for short term to not want to participate in traditional group activities.  
They are often recovering from an acute illness, injury or surgery and just want to get well and go home. I wrote an article a while back
on ideas for the short term resident.
Many facilities provide 1-1 visits with supplies and materials organized onto a cart.  Arranging for in room movies, refreshment carts,
visiting clergy and other in room programs are often effective.  
Hopefully, the article will give you some new ideas.
Good luck

Question:  I LOVE your E-mag!!!  Thank you sooooooooo much for taking the time to publish it.  I'm a LTC nurse and I always find
great articles.  I've been thinking about becoming an Activities Director.  Can you please point me in the right direction in
becoming one?  
[Note:  We did not pay this person to write this question...honest - Bob Lucas, ED]

Answer:  Your e-mail was forwarded to me by Bob Lucas, the editor of the magazine.
I am a consultant in NJ.  If you are interested in becoming an activity director - there are courses to taje and a national certification to
obtain.   The requirements for director of activities varies from state to state and level of care (nursing home, assisted living, medical
day care).  If you let me know what state you were in - I could better guide you in meeting your local requirements.

Most activity directors complete the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals which is a nationally developed and approved
program. I offer the course in NJ and also through independent study.  The course is a qualifying credential toward becoming
nationally certified through the National Certification Council of Activity professionals.

You can check out information about the certification and print out the application at the NCCAP site at

You can check out information about my course on my web site at

If you have more specific questions, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  I need to know where to find the federal regulations/guidelines for activities programs for a critical access hospital.  
The hospital is in Colorado and it has acute, swing bed and long-term care beds About 14 total beds.   Also where do I find
Colorado regulations.

 This is the site I use to find reglations.
I am not sure what you mean by critical access hospital.  This site will provide you with Colorado long term care regulations as well as
federal regulations for skilled nursing.

Here is the Colorado State Department web site and they have lots of regulations listed.
Not sure if any are the ones you are looking for.

Good luck and if you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  I have looked around for MEPAP courses online and they are what i perceive as expensive. Is there any online courses
that don't break my bank?

With any product, the price will probably be competitive amongst those providing it.  So I don't think there is anyone less
expensive than the next.
I do know that NCCAP offers scholarships and you can find that information on the announcement page of their web site at
Sometimes your state and local activity associations also provide scholarships.  Depending on where you work, there may also be
tuition reimbursement programs as well.
The one feature about my independent study program is that I do offer the students a chance to pay lesson by lesson which is less
money to put out all at once.
You can ask the other instructors if they do that as well.
If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me.

Question:  In our facility the activity assistants are being asked to supervise the dining room and thicken liquids. Do you know if
that is allowed under federal regulations.

 There are federal guidelines regarding  staff who assist with feeding residents.  The regulations state the staff must be
"trained" by a state approved program.  The implementation varies from state to state.  How your facility trains and documents the
training is a facility policy and also varies from state to state.  Some state regulations have formally defined training programs for
assisting with feeding in the state regs while other states have more general or vague references to training.  The federal regs say the
staff who assist with feeding need to be under the supervision of an RN or LPN and should not be feeding residents who have
complicated issues.
I know with thickened liquids - the activity staff should be inserviced and the inservice documented.  They need to have a list of
diet/liquid restrictions with them when serving any refreshments at an activity.  
Not sure if this helps.

Question:  I am presently a resident at a convalescent hospital and I have offered to help the Activities Director.  I need to find a
template that will be for one month broken down by day.  We need to have the ability to type in the  schedule for each day then
print it out.

i.e.:  FRIDAY 3/26/2010
10 am    Socialization
11 am    Rememberance
Noon     LUNCH


You are my first official letter from a resident in a care facility.  I commend you on your efforts to volunteer and help the activity
To answer your question - there are a few calendar programs that people use.
Calendar creator is the most comprehensive one but it is a bit complicated and cumbersome. The calendar creator program does
save routine programs from month to month, once you set it up.  For example, if you have Bingo every Tuesday and Friday at 2 PM, it
will place it in your new calendar as you have defined. So, once all your routine programs are programed in - it gives you the new
calendar with all of the programs already noted.  Most people create their own templates for the calendars through Excell or any of the
Microsoft office/calendar programs.  Once you set it up, you can save it and use it at will.  You would set your template up as you define
in your letter
and go from there.   
Hope that helps and good luck!

Question:  I am a certified activity director in _____, Texas.  The name of my facility is ______.  I go to the ____ for our networking
with other Activity Directors. I need to find a motivational speaker for Activity Professionals for  April. We cannot afford to pay.

  All I can suggest is to post your request on some of the activity bullitin boards (this site - activity director's office has one)
and there are a number of others. I have posted them all in previous letter answers to "dear debbie".  Most professional motivational
speakers do charge a fee for their time, so to find one to do it at no charge is a double challenge.  I would also suggest contacting
some of the volunteer or support groups in your area.  Possibly someone with the local AD association of MS or similar support group
might know of someone locally who does this.  I would think you have to go local as anyone who would travel to speak is going to look
for some reimbursement.

Question:  Do you know where I could go to take an on-line 36 hour course for an Activities Director Certification?  I live in
Northern California and this is what my facility is requiring from me.  I have been an activities assistant for over 8 years.  Every
where I look it is a 90 hour course.  Would you be able to help me out?

 I do not know of any on line or independent study 36 hour courses.  The only course I am familiar with is the MEPAP course
which is approved through NCCAP.  Have you checked with your state activity association?  Can they direct you to a local source?  
Sorry I cannot be much more help than that but most states have adoped the 90 hour MEPAP.

Question:  I am a CTRS and am interested in the MEPAP cert. as well.  I see it requires a practicum-- is that negotiable or must it
be done as I am working in a nursing home full time, as the Activities Director.

 The MEPAP requires a practicum which can be done in a nursing home, medical day center or assisted living community.  
Your nursing facility would work fine as the practicum site.  Your practicum supervisor could be your administrator or any other
department head you feel comfortable working with.  

There are instructors who offer the course in the classroom, depending on what state you work in or there is independent study.

I offer the course through independent study and you can access that information through my web site.
If you told me your state - I could send you a list of the approved instructors.
If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  What should an AD do in a situation where they are required by their facility administrator to transport residents in their
personal car?  I contacted my insurance company and was informed that my insurance does not cover business use.   I am
worried what would happen if I put 2 or 3 residents in my car and had an accident.  In today's world the families might sue me.  
Have you even come across similar situations?  I'm not really sure what to do and they are telling me this is a required part of my
job.  I have been at my job about 6 months and now that the warmer weather is coming soon this topic has come up.

 You have a right to be worried and  it is rare that a facility would ask you to do that.  Most facilities prohibit staff from taking
residents out in personal cars.  I would stick with what your insurance company said and get it in writing and present the letter to your
administrator.  If it was a required part of your job,  they should have mentioned this in your interview and it should be in the policies
and procedures somewhere. If you ended up doing this against your better judgement and you do have an accident and the insurance
company found out - you would be in a big mess. I think most people would agree with your hesitation.  You could also mention it to
family members.  They would have to give permission as well, I would think, if they are POA's. I can't imagine they would want their
loved ones out in a car without being covered through insurance.  

Question:  I was wondering if there was a convention/conference for activity coordinators. I work for a company that employs
several activity coordinators and would like to expand our knowledge of the activities out there for residents of PCH's.
Thank you in advance for your time.

 There are many state and national conferences available to the activity professional.
I have as many as I know of - listed on my web site on the seminar page.

If you let me know what state you lived in - I might be able to direct you further to local training.

Question:  Do you allow volunteers who have been court ordered (DWI) what is your policy on this?

Allowing probation volunteers such as DWI, credit card fraud and other such first offenses is usually a facility decision.
As a director, I had several probation volunteers working in my department.  I maintained strict parameters with the probation
department as I would not accept anyone with simple assault, drug offences or petty theft.  I just did not want to put my residents at any
risk.  I found most of the volunteers we did accept -  to be quite helpful and they were doing their probation hours because of a first
time, stupid mistake.  Some had to put in quite a few hours, which was great for our department. I only had one bad experience when
one of the volunteer arrived drunk for her assignment.  I asked her to go home and called the probation officer and I never saw her
again.  She obviously had a drinking problem.   I have worked with many facilities - some  either accept them or have made the
decision to not have them in the program.  I would suggest meeting with the probation people and discuss the type of person they
place and see if it is something you might consider.  Then, I would suggest meeting with your administrator and getting their support.