Dear Debbie:
By Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, CTRS, Executive Director of DH Special Services
For more Dear Debbie:
Visit her
26 JAN 2009


Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, 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
facilities throughout New Jersey, New
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.
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QUESTION:  Hello my name is **** and I have been an Activity Director for 8yrs and I'm
to the point where I'm stuck in a rut!  We do 7-8 activities daily and I need new ideas.

ANSWER:  It is a full time job looking for and implementing new ideas so getting into an
occasional rut is not unusual.  Especially, this month - after the holidays - our very busy
season - January is a bit of a let down for some.
The good news is - there are so many resources available for the activity professional
today.  Between the Internet, web sites and the many periodicals available to our
profession - there are many support systems out there.  Here are a few:
Here is the link from my page where I have listed a lot of theme sites, activity sites and
other sites with ideas appropriate for our programming.
Activity Connection is a great web site with so many ideas monthly.  You can try it for
free for one month.
Recreative Resources has a web site with lots of ideas also - you would have to pay for
this but it is inexpensive.
Here are some publications    creating together
journal - this is a new one   Creative Forecasting  A New Day   Activity Directors Companion

That is just to name a few.  
Hope that gets you out of your rut.

 Well, its happened again.  I've worked with seniors (independent and
assisted living level) since 2001. I don't job hop but have recently been job hunting
(why? another long story for later). I have exceptional skills, plenty of experience,
awesome references....on the phone, after receiving my faxed resume, cover letter and
list of references, I hear enthusiastic invitations for interviews.  Then, the second I meet
the interviewer, I see their eyes narrow. It's not "Oh, you're MYNAMEHERE!"  it's  "Oh,
YOU'RE mynamehere."   I am what doctors would call "morbidly obese".  That is to
say, I am severely overweight.  However, I CAN and DO exercise with my residents. I
take them places, do things with them and I have no physical limitations even with the
weight. I do dress appropriately for an interview.  I've had two of these "interviews" in
the last month.  Can I sue for weight discrimination? At this stage in the game (I'm 42) I
cant just whip off the pounds. Surely, there's something I can do to make them see I'm
qualified and capable!!! Thanks,
Fat but Fabulous

ANSWER:   First, I am not a lawyer so I couldn't advise you about lawsuits.  But, to
answer your question about how to get the job - one suggestion I offer the students in
my MEPAP course  - is to create a job portfolio.  The portfolio presents your skills,
talents and expertise in a concrete, visible manner.
You can use a small binder or if you feel like splurging - office stores have nice,
professional looking portfolios.  You would put copies of your certification, any letters of
recommendation or commendation, samples of your calendars, newsletters, policies
you have written; and photos of some of your special activities or programs you have
initiated.  You want to be careful with the how much you put in the portfolio as there is a
fine line between showing just enough to impress the interviewer and putting so much in
the portfolio you turn them off.  But, that approach works very well and often impresses
the interviewer and provides concrete sources of discussion.

On a final note, you seem pretty comfortable with your "fabulous" state of being.  If you
feel the interviewer is taken aback by your size, could you meet it head on and say
something  about how you are very spry in spite of what they might think?    You seem
like you have a sense of humor, you might be able to pull it off.  But, it might also come
off a little defensive or aggressive.  In either case, good luck!
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

 Men's Activities -  = I need some help. I am an Activity Director at a
nursing home and I need a way to simulate my higher functioning residents.
It seems like the only thing that they like doing is playing bingo, smoking
outside, or sleeping.

ANSWER:  I would agree that the higher functioning residents are sometimes more
difficult to engage than the cognitively impaired at times.
I would suggest conducting a serious interest survey of sorts which would be a detailed
survey of a wide variety of activities.  If possible, introduce the idea first at your resident
council that you will be conducting this survey.  If possible, getting an objective third
party to guide the residents in completing the survey is sometimes helpful.  They might
be more honest with an outsider.  Possibly that will give you some feedback as to new
ideas and such.  I find that higher functioning residents like to be challenged and
sometimes the reason why they withdraw is because they are bored with the current
selection of activities.  Here are some ideas for
-Creating interest clubs where they would take a leadership role.
-Card clubs focusing bridge, poker, pinochle and games with four players if you can
find the four players.
-There are some other games they could play on their own such as LCR or Bunko
-Book clubs where they discuss short books or articles.
-Computer clubs where they would learn to go on the internet
-Crafts classes but take them on a trip to the local craft store to pick out their projects
-Community service projects working for a cause they pick out.
-serious trivia or word games for the really high functioning
-speakers from community groups to present classes or lead discussions
-movies from today or of their choice - create a movie committee
-Introduce the Red Hat Society but network with the local community group
to integrate programming
-A life review program with the local high school where they can write their life story

Many of these ideas are not new - it is just how they are presented.  
Hope that helps,

I would like info you may have on "I" care plans. - Thanks

ANSWER:  I have been watching the discussion on some of the bulletin boards about
the "I" care plan.  The "I" care plan approach is changing the wording a bit to reflect the
care plan from the resident's perspective.  Instead of citing the problem, goal and
intervention from a care giver perspective - it is written in the first person or as an "I" -
from the elder's perspective.
For example, if the resident had calling out behavior - the care plan would be written
like this:
Problem - I start to yell and call out for attention when I am tired later in the afternoon.
Goal - I will respond  by not yelling when staff stop and offer me  a drink, some attention
or  to take a nap.
Intervention - Do not ignore me when I start getting fidgety in my seat.
I love Lipton tea with lemon and I am used to having it later in the afternoon.
I love Perry Como music so make sure it is playing in my room when I am resting.
I do not like being rushed.
I do like it when you tell me I have pretty green eyes and it will cause me to discuss my
mother who I inherited the green eyes from.  

You get the idea.  It is individualized care planning but with a personal twist.  The intent
is to humanize the care plan and have the care givers see things from the elder's
perspective rather than from an outside perspective.
You can take your regular care planning books and resources and adjust the wording a
bit to create an "I" approach. The key is for the care plans to be individualized to the
person.  There is a book "Care Plans for Culture Change".  I do not have it but my
assumption is that is goes along this line since Culture Change is the basis for the "I"
care plan.
You can access the book at Sea Bay Game Company.
Hope that helps,


 I have a question concerning multi-level programming.  What is your
definition of this?  I have always understood it to mean providing programming
opportunities in large, small and individual settings.  Within each program, either
grouping residents according to ability or working individually with each to make the
activity successful.  I provide a variety of activities meeting spiritual, cognitive, social
and physical needs.  My director feels multi level programming is not being met.  I am
trying research the professional definition to make sure I am meeting the standards
of my profession.  Thanks so much.  

ANSWER:  Your definition of multi level programming is accurate to me.  I have always
defined multi-level programming as offering the population concurrent and on going
activities (large & small group as well as 1-1) at the cognitive and physical levels they
need to be successful.  The federal regulations only define activity programming - not
"Program of Activities" includes a combination of large and small group, one-to-one,
and self-directed activities; and a system that supports the development,
implementation, and evaluation of the activities provided to the residents in the facility."

In addition to having the program in place, you have to ask yourself are residents being
placed in the appropriate program, how are the residents responding within the
program and is the program reflecting the true needs of the residents.  Sometimes to
an outsider, the program is viewed more critically and they see things you might not be
I am not saying your director is correct but I would ask her what is the specific criteria
she is basing her statements about multi-level programming and why she thinks it is not
being met.  

But to answer your question - your perception/definition of multi-level programming
seems accurate to me.
Good luck,

 I am in need of new material for inservices. I do a 60min annual training
inservice once a month and would like to refresh my material. Could you direct me to a
site? Thank you Becky in PA

ANSWER:  I have a few inservices listed on my site.
I also have a lot of printed information which can be printed out and used during an
inservice, depending on your topic.
The Care for Elders site has several professional publications they issue.
If you are a subscriber, they have inservices available.
I had written an article a while back for the Activity Director's Office on conducting
inservices that might help as well.  It is in the archives.
Good luck,

QUESTION:  I think I need a new job we had our Christmas employee party to night
and I ended up wiping the floors where someone had spilled something and being the
go getter I didn't get to eat or join in any of the games and gifts that were given ...I did
get to work...and clean up the tables while everyone ate,I was so aggravated I cried all
the way home I have been a activity director for 10 years and have been at this Rest
Home for 5 months this was the worst party I have ever been to ..I don't think I did
anything right for management form the radio being to loud to not being loud enough
it was awful i am ready to quit.

ANSWER:  In previous e-mails, you have mentioned administration (primarily - the
owner's daughter who is in charge of the building) has been disrespectful to you.  It
certainly sounds like not much has changed.  Your comment about management
complaining about everything -  goes with your original comments in a previous email
about her disrespect and lack of professionalism.  My questions to you are - were you
officially in charge of the party?  If not why did you assume all the responsibility to clean
up and such.    If you were actually supposed to be in charge - it sounds like some of
the planning should have included creating committees to help -so the burden of
everything would not fall on you or any one person.  In our profession, this is a busy
and stressful time of year.  It is more stressful and frustrating to feel like you are being
taken advantage of and not appreciated.  In my previous email answer to you  - I had
sent some information about working with difficult bosses.   With the new year, it seems
appropriate that you reflect on where you stand at your current facility. Is this a
situation you can improve upon or is this something you will have to tolerate because it
is out of your control.  At that point, you might need to make a decision as to which
direction you want to go in the year 2009.  

 Last year at this time I brought some Red "Holiday Trees" covered with
"Snowflakes"that the children from Mills Elementary had made. They were so excited
that theirs were going to be taken to Dell again this year. I am just not sure where to
drop them off. If you would be so kind as to give me directions. I will bring them ASAP.

ANSWER:  I am usually pretty resourceful but I just don't know where to go with your
question.  My only guess is - you are e-mailing the wrong person for this information.
Not knowing what State you are in, it is hard to even suggest where to go.  I would
suggest - look in the phone book for the local Dell office?
Sorry I am not much more help than this.

 I have been an activity director for 10 yrs and want to get certified.  I have
been looking on this site as well as other sites.  Can I just print out and mail in the forms
from NCCAP and get certified.  HELP!!!!  

ANSWER:  Yes, you can print out the forms from NCCAP and start the process. Your work experience would count but you also need the MEPAP
courses and continuing education and eventually college. If you email me back with the
rest of your education and such, we can figure out what track you can get certified
under.- Debbie

 I live in Ohio and I was wondering if you could tell me what classes I need
to take to be come a Activity Director. Is their any classed on line so I can work plus
take the classes.

ANSWER:  You can visit the NCCAP web site at
There are several instructors in your state which teach the MEPAP course which is a
qualifying credential to be an activity director.  You can contact them to see the
schedule of their courses.  There is also a listing of instructors who offer the course
through independent study as well on that page.  

You might also want to network with your State association.

Good luck and if you need additional information, feel free to email me, Debbie

 I have been a Activity Director for several years and am a CHHA, CALA
and CDP as well. How do I go about becoming a Certified Activity Professional and how
long will it take. Does any of the time I spent in my career doing it count for anything?

ANSWER:  You can download the National Certification Council of Activity
Professionals (NCCAP) application from their web site -   
Go to the download section and download the application standards and also
the application.   Depending on what you have - you might already qualify
for Activity Director Provisionally Certified.
To meet that standard - you would need three of the five following criteria:
  • Three years experience within past five years
  • 30 hours of continuing education in topics listed on the body of knowledge
  • 12 college credits.

If you have any three of those five, you can apply for ADPC.
To complete the requirements for Activity Director Certified (ADC), you would have to
complete the MEPAP courses
To find an instructor in your state, check out the instructor listing - also on the NCCAP
site.  The course can be taken through independent study or in person.  It is 180 hours
of education and 180 hours of practicum experience.  If taken in the class room, it might
take about a year to complete. If taken through independent study, you would study at
your own pace.     

Yes, your work experience would count toward certification and possibily some of the
workshops you have taken to acquire your other certifications would count, if they fall
within the body of knowledge and have been taken within the past five years.  

Hope that helps and feel free to email me back with any additional questions

 My name is T.F. and I am about to be a college graduate. I have
experience working as a therapeutic recreation aide and think I am qualified to become
certified as an activity director but am having some problems understanding the
process (how to take the test and where to find a MEPAP courses). I very much like to
work with the elderly and would love to further my hire-ability by becoming certified. Any
advice or information you could give me would be extremely helpful. Thank You for your

ANSWER:  The current process to become a certified activity professional through the
National Certification Council of Activity Professionals does not include a test.  
Currently, the requirements include work experience, some college credits, continuing
education credits and the MEPAP course.  NCCAP is working on a nationally driven
test, so in the future this may be the case, but not right now.

To find an instructor in your state, visit the NCCAP web site. They list instructors by
If you need any further information, feel free to email me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

 I'm a teacher myself, but I'm trying to get information to help my sister.
After a 19 year marriage she finds herself single again and in a job market she has not
faced for 19 years. Starting over. I have friends who are in administration for some of
the larger elder health care corporations, and hearing them talk it seems there is a
need. Considering my sister's skills, I think she'd be great as an activity director. How
does one get certified in California? And any other info you can provide.

ANSWER:  I am not familiar with California State regulations.  I suggest you contact the
following two people.  

Miguel Sarasa  951-492-2817  951-639-3494   
Lois Sciligo  530-894-5429  530-945-9026   

They are the State representatives to the National Certification Council for Activity
Professionals.  They should have information as to what credentials you need to be an
activity director in your state.

If you need further information, feel free to email me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS


 After teaching high school students for thirty-five years, I was hired as an
Activity Director in a retirement community.  I have wanted to work with the elderly, and I
felt this would be a great opportunity for me.  I do need some help because the director
that is training me has the calendar packed with trips at night to college basketball
games, theatre events, chorale presentations, and band performances.  Up to four
nights a week are spent taking four to ten people to these events.  Is this typical?  In the
daytime, there is Bingo, Chickenfoot, Karaoke, Winetasting, etc.  Since I do not have
any actual information of what is expected of an activity director, I need some help
finding out what I need to be doing.  Could you please help me?

ANSWER:  My first question - is this an independent living community?  Rather than an
assisted living facility or nursing home?  If it is independent living, my understanding is
the director organizes and schedules events but the residents  do most of them on their
own, once scheduled.  

If it is an assisted living or skilled community, then the activities would require you to
accompany them to these events and lead the activities.

With any population, I would suggest meeting with the residents and seeking their input
as to what they want to do?  If only a few residents are going on the trips and it is the
same residents all the time, it does seem as if the needs of all the residents are not
being met.  Once you are officially in charge, why don't you send out some surveys
asking the residents why they would like to do and how they feel about the current
schedule.  They might offer some good insight.  

If it is a skilled or assisted living facility, you would need to get copies of the state and
federal regulations.  They would provide you with a guide as to content and frequency
of programming.  

I would also suggest you pay a visit to local facilities which are similar to yours, to obtain
calendars and network with the other directors.

Hope that helps.  If not, feel free to email me back, Debbie

 I would like to know as an activity director in a assisted living facility how
many ceu's per year and how many ethic hours do we have to have?

ANSWER:  If you are nationally certified through the National Certification Council of
Activity Professionals (NCCAP), you would need 20 every two years if you are an AAC
and 30 hours every two years if you are an ADC every two years. So that would be ten
a year or 15 a year.  But only if you are NCCAP certified. As far as the "ethic hours" you
mention, not sure what you mean by that.  

 I have several church groups that come into the home of which I
work,and none of them except one or two will go into the Alzhemier's unit. They come to
sing and preach only on the rest home unit. How do I change this without offending
someone we need our groups but we also have two units and they all love music and

ANSWER:  Have you discussed this practice with them?   Are they only going to the
higher functioning units because that is what they have always done?  I would approach
the leaders of the groups (minister, deacon or contact person) and discuss the needs
of the other unit.  Invite a few of them to tour the unit and show them that even though
they have dementia, these residents are people similar to the other units who would
enjoy their visit as well. Involve them in deciding what might be appropriate.  Possibly a
few members of their group could visit the memory unit while the others conduct a
program on the higher functioning side.  Or possibily they could conduct a shorter
program or just sing on the memory unit.  If they decide to conduct a program on that
unit, make sure a staff member stays with them while there to monitor any special
needs.   Good luck.

QUESTION:  I have been a director for the past one year. I have learned a lot, but was
really never trained.I would like to take the 90hr course.I live in TN.and
Tonia Hooker is a certified consultant. How do I convince my administrator
,how important it is for me to get the second course. I have took the 46hr

ANSWER:  NCCAP offers six important reasons to get certified on their web site.
Maybe some of these would help you.   I think numbers 1-3 and 6 might be of
interest to your administrator.

Why Become NCCAP Certified?

1. Federal Law, OBRA, states that an activity department must be directed by a
"qualified professional." One of the ways to become qualified is to become a Certified
Activity Professional.

2. NCCAP certification is recognized by the Centers for medicaid and medicare services
(CMS), formerly HCFA, as an organization that certifies activity professionals who work
specifically with the elderly.

3. NCCAP certification assures administrators and surveyors that you have met certain
professional standards to become certified.

4. Many administrators will only hire activity professionals who are already certified.

5. Some administrators offer a higher salary to a certified professional.

6. Become NCCAP certified so others will know that you are nationally qualified and
giving quality activity service to residents/clients.

Good luck!

QUESTION:  Debbie I have been a Activity Director for 10 years and loved it so much
until I went to a new place to work,my residents are wonderful its the
owners daughter I am having trouble she beliitles everyone and with me its
in front of my resdients...I have had a hard 4 months in this home,its like
working against the grain now I have to make myself go in should I let it go
and find something new? the last Activity Director wasn't certified and all
she done was play bingo I am very active and have had them going strong they
love it..we have had Elvis,indians carnivals..I feel like there is no
respect for a Director here HELP!

ANSWER:  It sounds like the owner's daughter has no respect for anyone, let alone the
activity director.   Many things go through my mind with your email.  Is she
a snob, thinking she is better then anyone else?  Is she unhappy that she has to work
there, so she takes it out on everyone else? Is she just one of
those unhappy people who like to make everyone else unhappy?   Maybe she has
poor self esteem and only feels better if she finds fault in others.  I would try to find out
why she behaves this way.  It wouldn't solve the problem but would help  me understand
her behavior.  
The second thing that comes to my mind is to approach this person and let her know
you don't appreciate her belittling you in private or public and if she has a concern, you
would love to address it in a private meeting and in a constructive way.  She may not
like this (of course) but if you continue to let her speak to you this way, she will and
continue to make you miserable.  She may terminate you or this may even escalate her
She may also leave you alone.  It is hard to say.  My third thought is to go to the owner
and plead your case.  If you can get some other people on board with you, that would
give it some weight.  You could also just accept it and be miserable.  Or you can resign
and move on.  There are some situations beyond our control and either we accept
them as is, or we remove ourselves from the situation.  The choice is yours.
There are lots of interesting web sites out there about working with difficult bosses.
I know this is not much help but good luck and let me know what happens, Debbie

QUESTION:  What is your suggestion on residents who want to stay in their rooms most
of the time. I have taken things to their room for activity's and they don't want to do
them. Their families have stated the have always been on the loner side? I know state
surveyors what us to do more, but if the resident doesn't want to do anything, what do
we do? Thank you

ANSWER:  Providing appropriate and individualized programming and interventions is
supported through the assessment process.  The first task is to assess the resident
completely and support the fact that the person may not have been into lots of
socializing and group participation (which it sounds like you are doing).  The next task is
to offer a variety of individualized approaches based on their ability and past interests.  
1-1 interventions can be done by staff and volunteers.  There are suggestions for 1-1
visits in past articles of the Activity Director's Web site.
Plus many of the programming periodicals and books offer lots of suggestions as to
what to provide in room. I have an independent study program 1-1 visit program and
the book "Time Well Spent" has lots of ideas for programming for all levels of
functioning and types of programs.

If, after a good assessment and you know you have offered individualized and tailored
interventions, and the resident still refuses - that is their right to do so.  Just document
objectively - including discussion of what has been offered (specifically noted) and how
the resident responds (behaviorally written). I would keep them on your 1-1 visit
program, document the visits provided and resident response.  The state may question
you on these types of residents but if you show you have assessed them well, have
offered a variety of appropriate interventions and the IDC team is working together to
provide on-going stimulation and it is documented, you should be fine.  
Hope that helps,

QUESTION:  I already have the Job as an A.D. I work at a Nursing home here in Charlotte NC. I have 3
months to complete the training. The problem I'm have is finding a class. I was on the website for
cpcc. All the info isn't up to date all the numbers are out of order. Could you please help me.

ANSWER:  There is only one person listed to teach in NC and she is also listed as the state
representative for North Carolina and it is the following name:

Ginger Johnston  828-645-4297  828-683-8802

If this is the site you were referring to? And you have found the information to be incorrect, I would
suggest you contact NCCAP and let them know.  The NCCAP web site is usually pretty current and up
to date, so I am sure they would want that information.

If you cannot find an instructor to complete the class in a classroom setting, there are several
instructors who offer the course through independent study or on line.
The contacts for that are as follows:
Cindy Bradshaw - Virginia - Internet Activity Professional Training
Betty Hancock - Jane Martin - Home Study - activityconsultant@mlgc.
com Cindy Musial Olson - Wisconsin - - Internet http://www. Julie Reginek - Minnesota - - Internet http://inside. John Rowlett - Indiana - Video - Theresa Thorland - Iowa
- Home Study - - Internet

There is also a North Carolina Activity Coalition who may be able to direct you in how to become
qualified in your state.

If you need additional information, do not hesitate to email me back, Debbie

 I am a certified Activity Director in the state of Indiana,how can I get certified or transfer my
certification to Florida?

ANSWER:  If you are referring to NCCAP certification as an ADC, that should be fine in both Indiana
and Florida. I looked up state regs for both Indiana and Florida.  Indiana follows the federal regs
which say the director has to be certified by a recognized accrediting body (which NCCAP counts for).  
So if you are NCCAP certified in Indiana, that qualifies you to be a director.

I could not find any activity specific state regulations for Florida so they defer to federal regs.  The
federal regs refer to a recognized accrediting body which is NCCAP.  So, my guess is if you are
NCCAP certified - it should be accepted in Florida.

If it is not the NCCAP certification you are referring to, then you would need to seek NCCAP
certification as that seems to be accepted in Florida.

For verification of what is accepted in Florida, I would suggest you contact the MEPAP instructors in
that state.  They should be able to clarify if you will meet Florida standards.

If you need more information, feel free to email me back.

 Please, define activities as understood by N.A.A.P.

ANSWER:  Sorry for delay in responding. I wanted to get NAAP approval for posting this.  
NAAP has several documents and standards they have created to define our profession and what we
do. They have one document which is the "Definition of Activity Services" and it states " Activity
Services: An activity professional's first priority is to deliver programs to clients that focus on physical,
cognitive, social and recreation activities." Then it goes on to list about 15 items as to how we
interface with the IDC team, the community and families with specific references to ways activities
can promote positive outcomes.

NAAP also has something called "Scope of Practice" which might be more of what you are looking
for.  It states "The Activity professional provides activity services and programs, which enable each
client/resident to maximize their potential in activity participation. The provision of activity services is
primarily for geriatric populations, who are in a variety of settings that may include other populations
with special needs. Activity practice is based on assessment, development, implementation,
documentation and evaluation of the programs provided and the unique needs and interests of each
individual serviced. Activity services are directed and provided by professionals who are trained and
certified to provided activity services for geriatric populations."

This information and much more is made available to all members. You can visit the NAAP web site
and become a member. Debbie

 We are a brain injury facility pretty much most of them are comatose and some are just
lock in to not being able to move or respond much. 1 activity staff will be having groups of 6 for half
hour upstairs doing regular activities and then with therapies,  1 activity staff and 1 aides  co treating
downstairs we are having separate rotation each day with groups for sensory room, mat time, tilt
tables, ROM while watch movies once a week during that time they rotate from the areas for a hour.
They don't get much more interaction from activity staff during the day due to going to hydrotherapy for
ROM with the person serve that have no tracheas are on a schedule once a week to go. The groups
that I planned for November are like leaf rubbings, pumpkin pie play dough, thanksgiving menu
pictures, pine cone bird feeders etc. This is probably confusing to you too. Ha! This is a new program
that the facility is doing we start it November 10.

ANSWER:  With that information - your original question makes sense.  Head injury/coma treatment is
a bit different than very impaired dementia residents.  It sounds like they have a full day with all the
other complimentary therapies.  Your program ideas sound appropriate if they are physically capable
of such tasks.  I would suggest your recreation/activities focus on fun, solace and comfort.  They
sound like they have a pretty intense day and the time devoted to activity/recreation could be offered
as  respite type.  Respite and comfort are therapeutic as well and can be part of their treatment plan.  

 I would like to use a format to enter quarterly notes, annual notes, and significant change
notes.  Is there a resource available that speaks to the comments that are recommended for the

ANSWER:   There are a few books which outline content for such notes.  
Documentation in a Snap for Activity Professionals has sections on content.
Activities Keeps Me Going and Going also has some good chapters on documentation.
Recreation Therapy Consultants sell forms which are checklist type.
I have a section on my web site about documentation and what to write.

Hope that helps,

 Is thirty minutes appropriate for 6 comatose Person served for a group? We
are changing things and only have one staff doing the groups. My supervisor is a social worker and
he says to do it that away.

ANSWER:  Not sure if I understand your question completely.  It seems like you are asking if 30
minutes is long enough to program for "six comatose person"?  
First, not sure if you mean they are really comatose (a clinical condition) or just really low functioning
and minimally responsive residents.  In either case, I am assuming these are very impaired
residents and a group size of six.  Groups for that population should be small and six is about as big
as it should get in my mind.  Allotting 30 minutes to six very impaired residents would allow about five
minutes per resident if doing 1-1 approaches.  Not sure what the group content is?  
If it is more an environmental program (multi-sensory room or Snoezelen), the participants would
gain more stimulation than five minutes of 1-1.

It is hard to say what is appropriate not knowing your residents, your facility and the content of your
program.  What else is being offered to the residents throughout the day should be considered as
well.  I am sorry I cannot give you a more definitive answer but I would need more information before
saying something is appropriate or not.
If you email me back with more details, I could try to help, Debbie

QUESTION:  I have been asked to supply a budget for the year for activities department. Is there
copies of suggested items or list for me to use.

ANSWER: I looked through several of my basic activity books and only found one book which had a
very comprehensive listing of suggested supplies and equipment for the department.  The Activity
Services Manual by Susan Newell, MA, CTRS has a great listing in one of the glossaries of her book.  
You can purchase this book at

You can also make your own list by working from the various catalogs that are available to the activity
profession.  Create specific categories such as physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, etc., and
create lists of supplies needed for each type of programming.  
Hope that helps,
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

 I am in need of obtaining my 36 hour Activity Director certification in the state of Illinois.  I
was told I could do so online, but I have been unable to find the proper site to do so.  Any information
would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you

ANSWER:  That is an interesting question.  Your state regulations reference a 36 hour course but I
wonder if it is still being taught as such.  Most of the country has moved to a 90 hour course called
MEPAP and the one instructor listed for your state is approved to do the MEPAP course.  
I would suggest contacting these two people to see what is offered in your state.
Myrtle Klauer  773-478-6613  630-495-1545 is the State representative
for NCCAP.

Donna Tennant  Fairview  304-376-5376  MEPAP 2nd Edition is listed as
teaching in Illinois.

You can also try and contact someone through the Illinois Activity Professional Association as they
might know where the State courses are conducted.

Hope that helps and good luck!

 I live in NC, and I recently graduated from Community College with an associate degree
from Business Administration, I am interested in becoming an Activity Director, will you please inform
me of the steps that I need to take, in order to  be hired as an Activity Director. Thank you in advance

ANSWER:  To be a director in a nursing home, you would need to meet State and Federal
requirements.  The State requirements for NC are as follows:
The director shall:

(1)           be a recreation therapist or be eligible for certification as a therapeutic recreation specialist
by a recognized accrediting body; or

(2)           have two years of experience in a social or recreation program within the last five years, one
of which was full-time in a patient activities program in a health care setting; or

(3)           be an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant; or

(4)           be certified by the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals; or

(5)           have completed an activities training course approved by the State.

Federal requirements are pretty much the same thing.  

In order to become a director, you would need to do two things. The first thing is to begin acquiring
work experience in activities in a geriatric setting.  The second thing would be to complete the MEPAP
course.   North Carolina instructors are
  • Barbara Hearne  Charlotte  704-532-7276      MEPAP 2nd Edition
  • Ginger Johnston  Leicester  828-645-4297      MEPAP 2nd Edition
  • James Jordan  Wilmington  910-538-8944  MEPAP 2nd Edition
  • Kathy Wrightmoore  Durham  919-547-4405      MEPAP Part 1 BEC

You can also contact the people who are affiliated with the North Carolina Activity Association as they
may help you get connected or see where some of the classes are.

If you need additional information, feel free to email me back.

  Iam a student studying to get my National Certification.  I am looking for a final project for
my MEPAP1 class.   Something that my instructor said would "WoW her"  I can't find anything on the
internet.  Would you have any ideas?
Thank you...

ANSWER:  I am sure your instructor means something that would "wow" your residents so I would
start with them. I would ask some of your residents what would they do if they could do anything.  
Then, somehow - try to adapt it so they can do it.  Maybe they want to start a resident store or have a
type of party you never had before or create a chapel (real church like chapel area - not part of the
dining room) or create a facility cookbook or create an auxilary of resident volunteers or invite some
local community group in or hear a particular speaker or do a new craft or learn something new like
computers or the Wii.  
The Second Wind Dreams   and Never
too Late Organization  have interesting ideas
for meeting the needs of residents.  Some are as simple as taking a ride in a red convertible and
others are more involved like swimming with the dolphins.  

Not sure what is required of this special project - is it an activity, resource or technique?   But I still
think the answer lies within your residents - those are the people we should be "wowing".  

Sorry I am not much more help than that but if you provide me with more info about the project criteria,
I might be able to help you a bit more.

 I am a AD at a small assisted living facility in CA. We have 35 residents ranging in
physical and mental capabilities. Many times in the afternoon the residents do not want to come out
for activities.Do you have any advice on how to encourage them to participate? We try to have a variety
of activities such as word games, bingo, creative writing, and outings.

ANSWER:  Chances are they are resting, napping or simply enjoying some quiet time.  Can you start
your programs later in the afternoon and give them that respite time they seem to enjoy?  If there are a
few residents still up and about at that time, do a small group with them earlier and then the more
popular groups later in the afternoon.  Do a 1-1 survey with them and see why they go back to their
rooms and what would actually entice them out of their room at that time.  But, my gut is telling me -
they are sitting in their recliners - feet up, watching TV and enjoying an after lunch rest period.

But if you are interested in motivating participation, I just created an independent study program on
motivating participation.
Good luck,

I have a question concerning resident council meeting minutes.  My administrator is now
requiring me to send our meeting minutes to her for her approval before I hand them out to my
residents or post them. She sometimes writes comments on them, or instructs me to move an issue
from one dept to another (which is not always correct)  She feels my residents concerns are too
negative when other's read our posted council meeting minutes, that things are not as bad as
residents seem to think it is such as dietary issues - but honestly, I'd have to agree with my residents.
The residents ask me why I have to do this, but I don't know what to say to them, other than saying -
this is what I have to do, per my boss.  Your comments would be greatly appreciated!  Thank You!

ANSWER:  The whole point of the Resident Council is to give the residents a voice. When you change
what they are saying in the minutes or in person, you are inhibiting the use of that voice.   The
message the residents are getting when they see their comments or concerns are altered is that
their concerns are not valid or are not being respected for what they are.  Even if the concerns are
minimal to the administrator - they are important to the residents and should be treated as such.  The
statement in your letter that your administrator says "things are not as bad as the residents seem to
think" is kind of sad.  Your administrator can go home every night so it is hard for her to pass
judgement on how the residents really feel.

On the other hand, how we document resident concerns should be objective and clearly stated.  Any
concerns should be communicated clearly to the responsible party for resolution or discussion.   If
your administrator thinks they are "too negative", open up a discussion with her as to how you can
document the concerns in a clear, objective way without compromising the resident's voice.  
Interestingly enough, I just created an independent study program on Resident Council development.
Good luck,

 I am a new Activity Leader at an ADHC nursing home in NY state. With 3 weeks of "on the
job training" and help from the nurses on our unit, plus a little advice from my Activity Director-I am
feeling frustrated that I received no "real training". Should there have been some kind of a training
program for one week-at least? After expressing my concerns to my Activity Director, she gave me
some papers to read about dementia and Alzheimers. I love my job and my Clients! But, don't know
when I'll get in-service training, either. Can you direct me to a good book, that explains care plans &
how to implement them, elder care for ADHC, games for Alzheimer's & dementia patients with other
higher functioning adults? I can't find time to do paper work, exercise, games, and arts & crafts in only
21 hours each week on the job. Even my job description leaves a lot of items out, that I'm doing, and
wondering IF I should be doing. I work limited hours, and find no time available to plan activities --
unless I do it at home! Any advice?  Thank you.

ANSWER:   It is a shame that your initial introduction to what could be a fabulous job is so frustrating.  
The work and world of the activity professional is a very rewarding one but we need to be set up for
success.  I am glad you received some training and your director is sensitive to your requests and is
providing you with some information.  But, there is so much more out there which could be helpful to
you.   You desire and motivation to self educate yourself is commendable.  
As far as suggested books...
Some good care planning books are:
The Care Plan Cookbook and Dementia Care Plan Book by Recreation Therapy Consultants.
Some good programming books for dementia are:
More than a Game,  Activities for the Elderly - Vol II, the Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer's
Activities, Enrichment Sensory Program and the Positive Interactions Program for Persons with
Alzheimer's Disease.  
All of these books are available through my web site.
There are also many free web sites which list lots of ideas and resources which might be helpful to
you.  I have them listed on my site as well.   The links you would want to
check out are activity sites, alzheimer's disease, supplies and resources, environmental
programming and theme programs.  
If you want to devote some time to self education, there are lots of independent study programs
available.  I have a few available on my site.
I created one to go with the book "More than a Game" plus there are ones on there for understanding
behavior and documentation.
Finally - make sure you take time to take care of yourself.  Don't become one of the statistics and burn
out rather quickly.  This is an exciting and rewarding career and we gain much joy from what we do.  
However, the job can take it's toll on us.  As hard as it is, make sure you take care of yourself too.  
Good luck and feel free to email again, if you need any more information.
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

 Hello my name is S--- and I would like to thank you for taking the time to
help all those who give so much of them selves to others.
I have worked in the activity field now for 13 years.  I have taken the basic education course for Activity
Professionals in long term care, however I am not certified.  I have two little ones at home, my
husband pastors a small church full time, and we home school.  I give much of my time to my
work as activity and volunteer director of an independent and assisted living community. I find it
impossible to have time for more schooling and yet I find myself worrying about needing to become
more educated than what I am now in the activity field.  My executive director states that my activities
seem mostly geared toward lower functioning seniors rather than for independent. He has even gone
as far as saying that I would do better in a nursing home environment. He himself has come from a
nursing home as the admin. and has never worked for an independent community. The residents
praise the programs, but I still feel lacking.  We have 130 apartments, most of our residents are
border line skilled, they do not want me to asses the residents for activities when they arrive, because
they say "it gives the resident too much decision making power".  I was taught to base the program on
resident interest. Isn't that what is all about?  I guess my question really is advice seeking.
What would you do in this situation?

ANSWER: It is hard to specifically say what I would do in this situation because I am sure there are
other variables to be considered.  It seems to me that they are tying your hands in a way when you say
they do not want you to assess the residents.  What you learned in your basic activity classes - that
the program should be based on resident interest and ability is correct.  It is hard to create a program
when you don't have information about the population. In independent living and assisted living - a
comprehensive interest inventory or tally would give you priceless information as to what type of
programs to offer.  So, even a basic interest survey upon admission seems appropriate.  The
comment you shared about "giving the residents too much decision making power" is a red flag to
me. That suggests a management philosophy which is not in sync with person centered or
individualized care.  So, they are sending you conflicted messages.   As far as gaining more
knowledge on programming, current trends and other sources of information - the internet offers a
wealth of free information.  This is the link page from my site which has many web sites offering free
information on activity programming and ideas for the elderly.
Hope that helps and good luck,
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

Can you please tell me where I might find the information needed to decide if a long term
care resident would be a candidate for one on one programming.  Thank you so much!!

ANSWER: I don't think there is any formal criteria printed for this decision.  Most activity professionals
use the following standards to make that decision:
-anyone who does not attend any group programming for whatever reason
-residents admitted for short term care/sub acute who may not participate in many programs.
-the very low functioning resident who is minimally involved in programs
-individuals on hospice
-individuals who spend much time in bed, might be in pain or minimally functioning

Hope that helps,

QUESTION:  I need to know if the activity director has responsibilities in 1. supervision, leadership,
and administration.2.adapting to the ability level of the resident    

ANSWER:   The answer to that is absolutely yes on both counts.  The director position is a leadership
position as the head of the department.  It is an supervisory position as generally there are staff to
supervise within the department as well as volunteers.  It is an administrative position because of the
paperwork associated with the department - budgeting, policy writing and other duties associated
with the department.

The director is responsible for the overall services of the department and one of them is ensuring
programs meet the needs of the residents.  To meet the needs of the residents, not only do
appropriate programs need to be planned and scheduled but all staff need to understand how to
adapt programming and approaches to the individual cognitive and physical needs of the resident.  

If you work in a nursing home, the Federal guidance for F-248 states the following as the
responsibility for the director:

An activity director is responsible for directing the development, implementation, supervision and
ongoing evaluation of the activities program.  This includes the completion and/or
directing/delegating the completion of the activities component of the comprehensive assessment;
and contributing to and/or directing/delegating the contribution to the comprehensive care plan goals
and approaches that are individualized to match the skills, abilities, and interests/preferences of each

Directing the activity program includes scheduling of activities, both individual and groups,
implementing and/or delegating the implementation of the programs, monitoring the response
and/or reviewing/evaluating the response to the programs to determine if the activities meet the
assessed needs of the resident, and making revisions as necessary.  

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me back,

 My name is V.., I am the AD for TBI residents.(Tramatic Brain Injury)The
residents I serve are from ages 21 to 52 yrs. I have only been an AD for 6 mths. I am trying to get
ideas for their age level. I am told by our residents that the other AD only planned things for them that
when childish.  Help me if you can to help them. Most of our residents have a problem with
long time memory.

ANSWER:  The first thing that strikes me about your question is that the residents themselves told you
they thought what the other director did was childish.  If they are able to tell you that -  they can
probably tell you want they actually want to do.   Traumatic Brain Injury residents come with a variety of
challenges and each one must be approached as the individual they are.  In programming for any
population, the assessment is key.  In your assessment process, you want to address functional
ability (physical, cognitive and emotional) as well as their past and present interests.  From that, you
create programs based on their abilities, needs and interests.  
This is a web site with lots of activity ideas, many with a specific DX to address. If you go through
them, possibly you can find some specific to your population.
They also have a message board which often has discussions about certain DX and how to address.

Idlyll Arbor is a good company also which sells lots of good books for TR and specific populations.
They have one for adults and brain injury which you might want to check out.

Hope that helps and good luck,

 How do you determine which residents are best suited for a small sensory group vs.
those who should receive 1:1?

ANSWER:  These are two types of programs.

For the 1-1 program - it would be anyone who does not attend any group programming for whatever
-residents admitted for short term care/sub acute who may not participate in many programs.
-the very low functioning resident who is minimally involved in programs
-individuals on hospice
-individuals who spend much time in bed, might be in pain or minimally functioning

For the sensory group - that is usually for the very cognitively impaired resident who does not function
well in more complex programs
-Severely cognitively impaired with minimal appropriate response to general programming.
-Agitated residents who may find general programming too stimulating and need a calmer
-Residents on hospice, needing a calming and soothing environment.
-Residents with pain issues, needing a soothing environment.

Hope this helps,

 My question is regarding documentation:  how often and what documentation is
required--where can this info be found?

ANSWER:  The answer to your question depends on what level fo care you work in (nursing home,
medical day care center or assisted living facility) and what state you work in.  If you provide me with
that information, I could better direct you to the requirements.

 Do you know where I can get a giant print pokeeno game?  Or a used Bingo Blower?  

ANSWER:  I looked on ebay and they had bingo blower's listed.  I also put in large print pokeno into
yahoo search engine and lots of sites came up. Here is one with a large pokeno.
I have also made my own large print pokeno cards with actual playing cards glued onto a large piece
of poster board.  Works just the same.

 I was wondering what the requirements for a resident to take their medication on a
outing with activities.

ANSWER:  That is a good question - I had to do some research on that one.  The Federal regulation
say "The facility may permit unlicensed personnel to administer drugs if State law permits, but only
under the  general supervision of a licensed nurse."   So you would have to look at your state regs.  
(Not knowing what state you are from, I couldn't look that up.)  If you let me know which state you
worked in, I could look it up further for you.  Debbie

 I'm interested in working with our aging population on a part-time basis (Saturday's,
evenings, etc).  I have a Master's in Education and am also certified in many fitness programs.  I
wasn't sure from what your site indicated if I even have the correct website, but I am looking for some
training/certification in being an activity director. (again, part time) Can you guide me?

ANSWER:  These are the names of the instructors in NC.  They can direct you to class locations in
your state.

Barbara Hearne  Charlotte  704-532-7276       
Ginger Johnston  Leicester  828-645-4297      
James Jordan  Wilmington  910-538-8944   
Kathy Wrightmoore  Durham  919-547-4405

If you need further information, feel free to email me back, Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

 Dear Debbie, I am looking for a good book to help me with writing Care plans, a really
good book on group activities, 1:1 activities, in-room activities and also for activities for Residents with
Dementia. I'm also interested in starting a volunteer program. Last I need to find a form to use for
keeping the attendance,and how do I go about finding out in my state (California) regulations on, do I
need to provide an "evening activity" once a week or not. Volunteers, outings, and so on. I'm new in
this field of being a director. The documentation and the volunteer program is very new for me. I am
able to carry out the activities but... the planning and meeting their needs in an activity setting is
another story.  Help!!!!   Thanks!

ANSWER:  There are so many good books available to the activity professional.  It is hard to say which
one to pick.  Some of my favorites are:

Care planning - Care Planning Cookbook and Dementia Care Plan Book by Recreation Therapy
Consultants Group Activities - that is a tough one - there are so many - The Activity Encyclopedia and
Activity Planning at your Fingertips are good all around idea books.  There are great monthly
publications such as
creative forecasting, a new day and activity director companion that list new
ideas monthly.  And the web site cannot be beat for new ideas monthly.  
There are also plenty of activity based web sites which have tons of ideas.
1-1 activities - Time well spent is a good book.  
Dementia programming books - lots of good ones - the basics are Failure free activities for
alzheimers, ESP by recreation therapy consultants.  
I have most of these books and others of my favorites on my web site.

You can find your state regulations on this web site to find information about evening programming.

To set up a volunteer program, I have some information about that on my site as well.

Good luck

QUESTION:  My interest lies in Therapeutic recreation, having working years ago as a Activity assistant
for a few years, enjoyed very much. Currently  enrolled at a Community College,  classes taken  
towards attaining an AS degree, however, financial difficult has hindered my studies. It was mention
Activity Director training can be obtained. Do you have any information in regards to Hollywood Florida
requirements, sites which may be looked up or suggestions.

ANSWER:  There are several approved instructors for the MEPAP course in the state of Florida.  You
can contact them directly to see where they will be teaching in the near future.  There are also
instructors who teach the course on line or through independent study.  You can get all this
information on the NCCAP web site approved instructor page.
Good luck,

 Looking for job description for AD and Assistant ASAP including duties and Education
Requirements Thank you

ANSWER:  Hi, the has a link for job descriptions that might help you.

 I am looking for some in-service ideas for activity dept and would also like some ideas
for getting other staff members educated and involved in our residents activity needs. Any resources
out there I have limited budget.  Thank you

ANSWER:  You can check out a past article I did for the  web site a while back.
It discusses means and ways to conduct an inservice.

I have found greater success with training games and interactive programs. Games which assist the
staff to empathize with what the resident is going through or how the activity programs that we offer
meet their needs seem to make the most impact.  You can find many free training games on the
internet by putting in "training games" in a search engine.  The games promote communication, team
building and positive interactions which can be related to the value of activities and remaining active,
at any age.
Good luck,

 I am a new activity professional starting out with 6 months working in a newly opened
ADHC. I have been using the Care Planning Cookbook and trying to tailor the goals to how often
people will be coming to our program. Do you know of any additional resources or books for care
planning with ADHC? We now have coffee in the AM, exercise, games, socialization, and I am working
on getting more community college teachers, special performers, pet therapy, tai chi (still in works)
and other speakers of interest to our clients. I'm having a hard time starting up because things
seems to be happening so slowly, with adding more program variety and having admin realize how
important activities are. I mean the clients are spending the majority of their day with activities! We
have had some success adding programs that utilize staff strengths: one wonderful lady is leading a
great & popular class, and we've had our Dietitian & RN add some great programs to our calendar
2x/month. Other departments will come to activities to greet clients but announce they have to get
back to their "real job". What can you suggest to help open up the eyes of the staff that helping
improve psychosocial well being through meaningful interaction and programming can fit into all of
our jobs? Thanks for your feedback!

ANSWER:  It certainly sounds like you are on the right track.  As far as care plan books go - you are
using one of the best.  There are two others. One is written by the same people who wrote the
cookbook - It is called Dementia Care Plan Dictionary

There is another one called The New Care Plan Answer Book for Psychosocial and Social Work
Programs by Davis and Greenwald.  Sea Bay Game Company sells it.

As far as getting other staff more involved, continue on the path you are on now.  As some staff see
how the other staff participate and hopefully how these staff enjoyed it, that might motivate them.  
Also, as you remain at the facility, your relationships with the other staff will strengthen and you may
become more assertive in pressuring them to donate a few hours out of their schedules to
programming. Possibly giving them specifics as to what they can do might take the pressure off of
them. They might think it would take too long to prepare but if the program is an area of their
expertise, they would not need to prepare as much.  If the dietitian and RN have done successful
programs, why can't they commit to at least one per month.  Then maybe two per month.  

Some day programs have created independent activity boxes where all the materials for a small
group or 1-1 activity are gathered into a container or bag.  If staff (drivers, program assistants) have a
few minutes, they would take the box and interact with some of the clients who are sitting on the
parameter of the program and use the materials.  Another option is to identify the parameter people
and think of small group programs that might work with them.  As drivers and program assistants
have time, they could conduct the small groups (cards, table games, simple crafts, trivia, etc.) If it is
set up for people, they sometimes do it more readily.
Hope that helps and good luck,

 My name is JM.  I just got promoted to Activities Assistant for my dementia unit of an
Assisted Living Facility.  I work in a building with another AA and our boss the Activities and Volunteer
Coordinator works in the Independent building.  For awhile now, they have been giving the other AA a
hard time .  She is pregnant and will be going out on Mat. leave in about 6-9 weeks.  I will be moving
to another state in the fall, but when I am not sure yet.  I work for a corp. so I can essentially transfer
within the company.  They have been so pleased with my work and my creativity and everyone tells
me all the time how wonderful I am--Employees, Management, Volunteers, Residents and Families.  
The other AA refers to me as the Activities Queen. I don't take complements well, I say thank you, but
then internalize what they say.  Recently we were reviewed by corporate.  I passed with high praise
and flying colors and the other AA ( who has been doing the job for 4 years) failed.

She does the same activities every day.  I do different things all the time.  And I research every night
trying to bring excitement to my residents.  (Right about now, I should let you know that I am friendly
with her and we work well together.)  The Ex Dir told her that when she came back from mat. leave
she would not have the same position, but after consulting with corporate, she found out that is not
legal and management was disciplined.  They have now been following her every move and are
pitting me against her.  She was written up the other day for the first time ever. Management has now
( when she leaves for the day) taking me under their wings and telling me how well I am doing and
showing me new things they want to see, which I have been implementing.  Today, the other AA found
out that they will now be eliminating both AA positions from our building and creating an additional
Activities and Volunteer coordinator position for our building.  So now there will only be 2 AVC's for the
facility, one for each building. They are getting rid of 2 positions and creating a management position.
And that the cna's will be doing the activities that are planned.   They have told her that she may
submit a resume and application for the job and that they won't hold her pregnancy and Mat. Leave
against her.  They haven't told this to me, but I feel now that they have been prepping me for the job for
the past 3 weeks.

They will be posting the job tomorrow in the break room.  I have been in the job for 5 weeks only.  The
ED, Associate ED and one of the unit coordinators have invited me out to dinner and the movies for
this Thursday.  Should I go?  And should I apply  for the job as well?  If I get it, which I think I
would, this will create tension between her and me. They are putting me in an awkward position and I
am sure they are doing this on purpose.  What are your feelings on this?  By this point I don't think that
I am just imagining things.  They are trying to get chummy with me and let me into the inner
circle, however I don't trust them.  They turn on people so often.  I may be their fav today and their
enemy tomorrow.  And, If I do apply for the job and get it, this would be the best position I have had to
date and I would gain a wealth of knowledge and experience from taking the job.  I would be in a
better position when I transfer later this fall.  And be in a better position to financially help my family (
hubby and 2 kids).

Thank You and I hope you can dispense some insight.  I have gotten advice
from some, but you are in the field I would really value your opinion.

ANSWER:  Boy, that sounds like a lot of drama for only being in the position for five weeks.  I would
agree with you - you should be cautious. Just because now you seem to be in favor doesn't mean that
will last. My first suggestion is to try and stay out of the drama as much as possible and focus on
what you do and how you do it.  To worry about the other assistant and how she feels about things is
kind of non-productive behavior.  You really can't do anything about how she feels. You should focus
on what you can control.   If you can stay on your unit, do what you are supposed to do and focus on
the needs of the residents (which is what everyone should be doing, rather than the games they
seem to be playing), maybe you can survive this unscathed.

As far as developing a social life with your supervisors, that is also dangerous ground.  You are right
to be hesitant because it does not sound appropriate in many ways.  Luckily - you have your family to
go home to and that can be your excuse to not make these social engagements.  I personally do not
like that kind of drama and stay out of it.    That is not what I feel we are supposed to be focused on
when we are in the facility.  My focus is the responsibilities of my position and the needs of my
residents.  Gossip, playing mind games, and pitting people against each other takes away from the
care the residents should be getting.
Good luck,

I am hoping you can help me locate where I can get Certified. I just moved to Oregon and
was previously employed in California as an Activity Director. I was not certified and am looking to be
now. Do you know of any schools or training centers in the Medford, Portland Oregon or Vancouver
Washington area? Maybe a website that could direct me.  Any info would be greatly appreciated. I love
working in Activities and want to get back to work soon.

ANSWER:  There is one approved instructor in Oregon.  Hopefully, he can assist you in finding a
suitable location. Name Phone Alt. Phone Email State Website
Michael Watters  503-557-7529   

There is also one instructor who teaches in Washington state.  
Name Phone Alt. Phone Email State Website
Michael Bower  253-569-7287 Cell   

Hopefully, either of these instructors can assist you in your quest.

 I live in an adult and very active golf-tennis-boating community.  I would like to see our
Board hire a full-time activities director.  Can you refer me to a pamphlet, letter, or other document that
“makes the case” for having an AD “on campus”?

ANSWER:  I looked everywhere and could not really find what you are looking for. Most of my
information has to do with the professional themselves, training, certification and also working more
with skilled nursing and more frail and ill elders.

You can try looking through the National Recreation and Parks web site.  They have lots of information
about the benefits of planned programs and knowing the resources for such programs.
sorry, I am not much more help than that,
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

 Hello My name is V--, I have been a activity aide for 6 years and know I'm taking over for
the director and that's a big ball game.  I wanted to know if  you could send me some samples or
links to samples of newsletters.  I have to make one and I'm not sure what they are to look like...
Thank you for you time V--

ANSWER:  If you have a computer - many of them have programs built in through works or office.  The
program has the layout created and you simply enter the content in the blocks of space they have
defined.   As far as collecting samples from others, there are several activity bulletin boards and you
could put out a request there for people to mail you their newsletters.  You might also call or visit
nearby homes to collect samples.  If you have a local activity professional group in the area - they
sometimes do sharing sessions where you could share calendars and newsletters.  

Here is where you can get involved in the activity messages boards and make a request.  If you check
their past files, they also have calendars and newsletters posted in the files.
Good luck,

 Hello. I am looking for some preferably online programming to help home caregivers
apply structured activity to caregiving with clients. Do you know of any helpful online or manuals that
can offer essentially activity training as more of a crash course.

Please let me know ASAP!

ANSWER:  There are many web sites offering independent study education for activity professionals.  
They include the following:

Each of these websites also have book pages with lots of good books which might be helpful,
Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRSA

Can you please tell me where I might find the information needed to decide if a long term
care resident would be a candidate for one on one programming.  Thank you so much!!

ANSWER:  I don't think there is any formal criteria printed for this decision.  Most activity professionals
use the following standards to make that decision:
-anyone who does not attend any group programming for whatever reason
-residents admitted for short term care/sub acute who may not participate in many programs.
-the very low functioning resident who is minimally involved in programs
-individuals on hospice
-individuals who spend much time in bed, might be in pain or minimally functioning

Hope that helps,

In your Person Centered Care article, you talked about interest inventory/assessment. I
know there are a lot of assessments out there to purchase or copy. Do you recommend any of these?

ANSWER:  I am most comfortable with assessments that are hand created or developed by the
center.  Of the purchased ones, I often like bits and pieces of each. I know Briggs revised their forms
to coincide with the person centered model and also to coordinate with the F-248 changes.
I have seen the form created by Recreation Therapy Consultants and they have lots of space on the
interest section to enter information.   Debbie

 I live in St Louis Mo.  I am a certified teacher, but the market scares me. If I would happen
to loose my job, I was thinking about a career as an activity director or assistant for the elderly.  I've
worked some summer jobs in a nursing facility and I really enjoy the seniors.  Any suggestions
where to begin.  Is there a need in my area. Thanks

ANSWER:  I really can't speak for your state but long term care and the field of geriatrics is a
consistently growing field.  There are going to be continuous opportunities in all aspects of geriatric
care.  I also don't know the requirements for director for Missouri but there is a state activity
association in your state.  There is information on it about state certification programs and

You can also contact the National certification council state representative for your state.  Possibly
she can direct you as to how to proceed in your state.  Paula S. Miller  816-257-5100  816-225-8534    Good luck!  Debbie

Where do I begin ? I am in the very early stages of research on becoming an Activities
Professional & am a little confused on the process. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You

ANSWER:  There are a few directions you can go.  If you have never worked in the field or in a long
term care facility, I would suggest seeking some experience in that setting to see if this is what you
really want to do.

You could volunteer a few hours weekly or obtain a paid position to experience the work.  Once you
decide this is the path you want to take, explore the availability of attending the MEPAP course.  This is
a course which provides you with much of the information you need to succeed in the position.  
If you have more questions, feel free to email me back.
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