Dear Debbie:
By Debbie Hommel, BA,  ACC, CTRS, Executive Director of DH Special Services
Last Update
27 MAR 2010


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.
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Activity consultant to
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Questions & Answers:
Hi, I am a AD who got my degree while my boss was having heart surgery and had to take over her job
for over 3 months and had only 2 wks training before she went in.  Anyway, my question is this.. the Alz.
Unit is made up of all stages, and after lunch about 80% are wanting to go home or are confused at were
they are at. The Unit is really unorganized in scheduled Activities at this time and when second shift
comes on at 2pm it really gets crazy the Residents r at the nurses station and it is hard to get them back
into the room where we r doing activties.  Are we doing the wrong Activites?  I know there is something
that can be done but what??  PLEASE HELP!!!

A good program on a memory support unit is a balance of active and passive stimulation.  As you point out - the
accelerated behaviors after lunch indicate they are tired and want to go home - not an out of the ordinary
response.   There are three ways to meet the needs of residents on a memory support unit - through the activities
and life created on the unit; the staff and they way they approach each resident daily; and the environment.
The program should be a balance of active, passive, theme, familiar and routine programs.  I like to look at each
block of time (morning, afternoon, and evening) and plan a cluster of programs.  The morning program may start at
9:30 and go until 11:30 which is two hours.  To occupy the residents in one thing for two hours is impossible.  
However if four shorter programs were offered within that time frame, it would work.  Of the four activities, a daily
pattern should be found such as morning social, active, task oriented and socially oriented.  The afternoon period
after lunch is a perfect time for a relaxation group followed by a social program and then some traditional programs.  
A relaxation group after lunch is very effective when the lights are dimmed, relaxing music is played and staff focus
on back rubs, hand massages and comfort measures.  The pattern of approaches may vary from facility to facility,
based on the functional ability and needs of the residents.  You might have to experiment to find the right pattern of
programs which reduce the chaos and distress amongst the residents on the unit.  Not everything has to be loud
and active.  Sometimes it is nice to just sit with a cup of tea and listen to music while chatting with peers.

The second issue for you to look at is your environment. If it is a noisy place (staff speaking loudly, call bells,
overhead paging) then that is most definitely contributing to the agitation in the afternoon.  The staff need to know
the noise they create in their work is a form of stimulation and anything unnecessary needs to be eliminated.  The
leaving shift and arriving shift need to learn they don't need to roll in and out like a herd of buffalos, contributing to
the chaos.  There are many things you can alter and control to adjust this situation. It will take a team effort though.
There is no magic activity that will solve this issue. It is a combination of several things.
I have several independent study programs on my site which address this situation.

Understanding Behaviors - Whose Problem is it?
Fundamentals of Special Care for Memory Support Units Understanding Individualized Dementia Care

You can find these programs on my site at

I'm an activity coordinator in a dementia nursing home, i need plan a Mothers Day event in the nursing
home can you help.

That's an interesting question.  Depending on the level of functioning and how far back in time they may have
regressed - provoking memories of Mom might cause some distress.  Especially if they are at the stage where they
are looking for their parents and such.  We might be opening a can of worms with that one.  On the other side,
inviting their daughters in for a Mother/Daughter tea of some sort might cause distress because if they don't
recognize their daughters - as their daughters - it would cause another whole set of problems.  Maybe you should
take an approach where you are just celebrating "Ladies" and have a tea with the china and pretty hats and
celebrate the gentile life of ladies without bringing up moms or daughters.
Focusing on fashions, hats, ladies accessories and the etiquette of the day might be a safer way to celebrate.  It is
hard to say, now knowing the level
of functioning of your residents.   

How can my resident participate in my activities? I have various activities for the day. But they do not
even want to get up from the main livingroom.

Not knowing your program, what is being offered, or the level of functioning of your residents - it is hard to
specifically say why the residents are not joining your programs. Usually, poor participation can be attributed to two
causes - either the program is not of interest to the residents or the program may not be appropriate to their level of
functioning.  To determine if it is an interest issue - cross referencing the information obtained on the assessments
with program availability is one approach.  Creating a resident activity committee, where the residents have input
into the planning and development of programs is another approach.

The bottom line is to ensure the programs planned reflect resident interests and preferences. If it is a functional
problem - meaning the programs may be too simple or childish for the residents or the activities are too complicated
and difficult to participate in - the need may be to create various levels of activities.  Everyone likes to feel
successful as well as challenged at a level we can still feel successful at.  To achieve this, you would need to assess
the cognitive and functional level of your population and determine if you have various groupings of residents (high,
middle or low).  Once that is identified, creating programs based on ability as well as interest would be appropriate.
A final thought is to believe that encouraging residents to join programs is a team responsibility.  All staff should be
aware of where the activities are conducted and encourage or assist residents to available programs.

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 minutes 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 interruptions is also
necessary.  Unfortunately, "having words with a department head" is often not the most productive approach 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 - interrupting 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.

Love your website. Been an activity director for approx. 6years and have a new challenge of taking on a
swing bed unit in a hospital. The unit does not have a room for group activities, is this acceptable as
long as daily one on one and/or independent activity interests are provided?

That is a tough question where the answer may vary depending on what regulations you are governed
In NJ, the swing bed units in hospitals are governed by NJ State regulations and our regulations state
there needs to be a room for activities.  Many states have similar requirements.  Not knowing what state
you are from - it is hard to say.
My guess is as long as your residents seem satisfied and you are providing activities as you state, you
should be ok.  But again, not knowing what state you are from - I can't say definitively.

Where can I find the listings for current jobs in NJ, please let me know

Here is job board on my site which has a lot of NJ job as well as other states.

I will be starting a new job next week and one of the objectives i have is to get the smokes to partake in
the rec. activities any special ideas...thanks

By "smokes", I am assuming you mean residents who smoke?  In any case, I would agree motivating residents
whose primary interest is smoking in alternate activities is a challenge sometimes.  Hopefully, the activity department
is not in charge of distributing cigarettes and monitoring that task. It is hard to separate the two when the residents
associate our department with cigarettes.  I would suggest getting to know them a bit and see what has been offered
to them in the past.  A review of their initial assessments and assessing whether they have been offered programs
of their interest.  I suggest asking them to be part of a committee to develop new programs and ideas.  Possibly
introducing a club where they could working a reducing their smoking and adopting more healthy choices may be of
interest to some of them.  It is hard to suggest specific programs when I don't know the residents or their back
grounds.  But, approach them like any population
- get to know them and see what may interest them.


Can you please tell me as to where I  find the requirements/courses for activity director for assisted
living home or nursing homes in the state of Oklahoma?

Here is a link for the Oklahoma regulations which includes the answer to your question.

I live in South Florida and I'm interested in becoming an Activities Director.  Could you please tell me if
you know of a place where I could take the courses required? Broward or Palm Beach County would be
great.  Thanks

Hi, here are the instructors in Florida who offer the course.  You would have to check with them to see where and
when they offer their courses.

John Collins  Orlando  407-282-9647 ,
Mary Anne Favale  Ormond Beach  386-672-5392  386-295-3857 cell  
Dina Giannet  New Port Richey  727-847-0649  727-389-2986

The course is also offered through independent study and those instructors are listed on the NCCAP instructor
page at

If you need any additional information, feel free to e-mail me.
You can see information about my independent study MEPAP (if you decide to go that route) on my web site at http:

Help would surely be appreciated in writing care plans, goals, interventions, approaches. I have been
taught the wrong way.... Now, I have to re-do all 115 of our residents plans and am starting to pull my hair
out.. HELP Please... Thanks

I have several articles about documentation and care planning on my web site at http://www.dhspecialservices.

To sum up the key points...
Goals are tasks, responses, actions and outomes the resident will achieve so the goal has to be written as a
resident achievement.  The goal has to be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.
Interventions are the tasks the staff will implement to assist the resident to achieve the goal.  The interventions
should be individualized and directed toward the resident's ability, needs and interests (past and present).  If you
work in a nursing home, the Federal guidance of June 1st,
2006 had several pages of care plan intervention suggestions for specific needs. If you do not have a copy, I can e-
mail it to you.

There are a few books that are helpful for activity care planning.
The Dementia Care Plan Dictionary
The Care Plan Cookbook

I also have two documentation independent study programs available which includes a discussion of care planning.
Documentation Mini Lesson - NCCAP approved for 3 hours
Documentation for the Activity Professional - NCCAP approved for 10.5 hours

If you need additional information or have more specific questions about care planning, feel free to e-mail me.

Thank you for your website. It is very informative. I feel I have found my calling and want to pursue this
wonderful area of health care. I have a few questions:  I have been a stay at home mom for 12 years (I
am 40 now). I was in nursing school for one and half years but dropped out to help my mom when my
father passed away unexpectedly two years ago.  I decided nursing was not for me.  What I am
wondering is:

1.Is a degree in organizational management ok to move forward, or should I go back to school for
another degree (Therapuetic Recreation degrees are nonexistent in my area,San Antonio, TX) in
psychology, sociology or kinselogy?

2. I know I need a certication, but I have no experience in working in a retirement community, skilled
nursing community except for my clinicals at the hospital to begin with. Should I call these facilities and
volunteer or request an internship while I am getting the certification?

Thanks for answering my questions. I am having a hard time finding out which is the best path.

Hi, welcome to the world of activities.  It is a rewarding career for many.
If your goal is to be an activity director in a nursing home, the best direction would be to pursue the National
Certification Council of Activity Professionals  

It is recognized in Texas state regulations and the federal regulations.  To be nationally certified, you are going to
need some work experience.  You would need to try and find a position in activities and start acquiring experience.  
You will also need to take the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals course as it is a mandatory part
of the NCCAP certification process.  The course is taught in Texas and the approved instructors can be found on
the NCCAP site at
You would have to contact each of them to see where they are teaching in Texas.
The course is also offered through independent study and the approved instructors are listed on the same page as
the Texas instructors.  

When you take the course, you will have to find a placement for your practicum and that can be done as a volunteer
or paid employee.   You will need some college credits also (at least 12) for the NCCAP certification, including an

I'm in Birmingham Alabama I'm trying to find classes here. Hands on preferred it's something i always
wanted to do. I've been a certified nurses assistant before.  For the last 14 years I've been a federal
guard. I'm ready to switch careers Kids in college.  I'm so ready to be back where I belong...I'am a people
person I love giving my time where do I get started I want to be the best activity director possible.

There are two instructors listed on the NCCAP board for Alabama.  You can contact them directly and see
when/where they are offering the class.

Joy Cornelius  Tuscaloosa  
Melissa Thornton  Sylacauga  256-267-2392  

Hopefully then can help you get back into the work you want to do.

I am a new Activities Director for a Senior Center. I need leads regarding activities for us outside of the
center (lunches, shows, etc.)  Are there (local)sources that can help me out? I live in NJ.

I would suggest go to your local library or the NJ Library web site and go to your county and look up the community
resource data base.  They often list cultural groups, clubs, associations and other community contacts.  I would
suggest finding one of those free weekly papers as they often list community events.  I would suggest looking in your
regular local paper under community events.  Check with your county division on aging or you local chamber of
commerce as they sometimes have a listing of availabel resources for seniors.  You can also seek out the activity
director group in that area - they are called NJACA and they have monthly meetings.  They often share information
about community events. You can email for information about that group.

I was previously certified ADC and worked in the field for 10 years.  I've been out of the field for 7 years
and now  would like to get back in.  Can I take the MEPAP part II before Part I , can I take them together
as an independent study, or would it be possible to take Part I as indepent study and then join the Part II
course offered in February?

You must take MEPAP Part I before Part II.  The course is meant to be taught in sequential order.  You would almost
have to work on the course full time to get it done in a month. It is equivalent to 180 hours of work.  If you need
additional information, feel free to e-mail me or check out the class information on my web site.

I am a 28 yr old male w/ a Bachelors degree in Health Science, a minor in Edu, have completed both
MEPAP courses and followed up with NAACP certification.  I absolutely love TR and Activities.  I have
been an Act. Asst. for over 3 years with the last 18 months working, as well as training directly under an
AD, YET.........  still have had no luck in attaing an AD employment positon!  My interviews go well, my
references come both from former supervisors and also resident loved ones, but always get "passed
up" for another applicant.  With all your experience, have you any "tips"?  Is it my age, gender,
qualifications....???  Any advice is GREATLY appreciated!

I don't know what the job market is like in Florida - sometimes it is just the area.  If each job has hundreds of
applicants, the competition is stiff and even though you have great qualifcations - there are others with more.
You might contact the individuals who have interviewed you and asked them after you do not get the job - what was
it about your interview and qualifications that did not get you the job.  If you approach it in the right way, they might
give some insight.  Another option is to put a portfolio together to take on the interview.  I feel a good portfolio can
highlight your qualification and accomplishments and set you apart from the typical candidate.  A portfolio is a simple
binder (they do sell portfolios in Staples but you don't have to go that route - a simple binder will do).
The binder should have your documents (filed in plastic sleeves) to showcase to the interviewer.  I would include
your resume, your certifications, any letters of commendation, samples of your work (newsletters, flyers, calendars),
select photos of some special events that you have done and anything else that is above and beyond the average

My facility is opening a new Alzheimer's wing in approx. 3 weeks. I am into my first 6 weeks as an Activity
Director and I'm doing great as a regular activities director but I am in charge of supplying the new wing
with recreational supplies and a calendar before I hire an activity person for the unit. I could do it but
would appreciate any advice or resource I could go to for that information.

As far as supplies for the unit, it depends on the level of functioning of the resident for the unit.  If they are in the
middle stages of dementia, diversional items, cognitive games and life skill stations work best.  If they are in the later
stages of dementia, more sensory based materials are appropraite.  The companies I like to use are Nasco and S &
S.  They both cater to senior programming and have some great items along these lines.
I also have a lot of links of suppliers on my web site at
Again, I apologize for delay in responding.  If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me.

I recently interviewed for an AD position at an assisted-living facility, but was offered the Assistant
Activity Director position instead. Because of my credentials and strong academic background, I
declined the opportunity because of the significant difference in the salary I was offered. I was an AD for
a very short period of time previously and have another interview for the position at a different
company. Do you think my inexperience is overshadowing all of my other credentials? I really want the
job, but I don't know what I am saying wrong in interviews that makes employers hesitate with extending
me a solid offer in the world of Activities. What do you think?

As far as your credentials - you don't specifically say what they are.  You do mention academics and a short tenure
as a director.  Additionally, I don't know which state you are e-mailing from.  Each state has different requirements
for the position of director.  If you do not meet those requirements, the administrator really can't hire you for the
position as they won't be meeting state/federal requirements.  Some people do look at experience as a positive trait
but then some look at too much experience as a negative trait, so it all depends on who is doing the interviewing.  It
is hard for me to offer more insight without knowing your background and credentials and which state you are from.

I graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree of science, my major is social
work. I am seeking position where I can work directly with seniors, such as an activity director. I
completed my undergraduate internship at ------. Do I have to be certified? Where do I go to in Illinois to
get certified? I was wondering Debbie if maybe you could help me find a position as an activities
director. I am willing to relocate to another state for a position if
necessary. Thanks!!

Sorry for delay in responding - you caught me right before the holidays and I am just getting caught up with e-mails
and such. I can't really help you find a position in Illinois as I am on the East coast in NJ.  I would suggest you tap
into the Illinois Activity Association.  Possibly they can help you with contacts and such.
As far as finding out about Illinois requirements, I would suggest contacting the NCCAP state representative.
Her name is Nancy Ichinose  847-492-4872
Again, I apologize for lengthy delay in responding. If you need any additional information, feel free to e-mail me.

What actually needs to be included in an Initial Activity Progress Note, a Quarterly Note, and an Annual
Note? In our notes, we put R's vision, hearing, speech, if they are on O2, what appliances they have
such as alarms, cushions, etc., diet, psych. meds, and so on and so forth!! Is that really necessary? Also
when writing what activities they come to we state "John" participates in 2-4 activities per week that
includes bingo, music, cards, mens club, etc. or can we just state that he participates in 2-4 activities
per week? My goal is to eliminate the "double work" to make paperwork less time consuming but at the
same time still be within state regulations! By the way I live in Ohio!!

I agree with your desire to reduce repetitive documentation.  Can you compare your initial assessment form to the
other forms and eliminate the repetitive information?  I would include assessment of some of the items you mention
but to focus on how it impacts on activities and what we would need to do to accommodate for such things as O2, or
diet or alarms.  To just repeat that they are in place and the resident has these issues is repetitive.  When
assessing those areas, I like to look at them from our perspective and how it impacts upon us.

Regarding the initial assessment narrative, I would include a summary of how they are adjusting, how they are
responding to placement and any immediate needs identified.  If they have triggered in the MDS or there are any
obvious needs or problems, I would support that in the assessment narrative.

I would also include discussion of anything that needs further explanation in the other part of the assessment.  Not
seeing your assessment form, it is hard to say.

The progress notes should reflect somewhat on response to care plan issues and interventions. If the resident has
behaviors or has a need for specialized programming, my note would focus on outcomes and responses to that
approach.  Although it is helpful to sum up activity participation (frequency and content), I think it is more important
to note response to programming and level of participation within group, rather than they attended.  
As far as the Annual note, that coincides with the annual MDS and should reflect on any assessment issued noted
within the assessment process.

Again, I would support any triggered issues in the MDS and support the need for specialized programs and

I do have a page on my site about writing progress notes.
Maybe that will help a bit.
If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me.


We are in the process of discussion painting our Alzheimer's Unit.  Are there any colors that are better
suited for Alzheimers residents?

People have found that warm, soothing colors work best.  One should stay away from extreme patterns or mixed
patterns and fabrics within wall papers, furniture and carpets as they are too busy.  I also know that using
contrasting colors between walls and floors, or trim around doorways helps them navegate the area.  Also using
complimentary and contrasting colors of furniture so they can see it as well.  The emphasis is to create home so
colors that one would find in a home are best suited.  I think warm colors are soothing overall.  I also like some of the
wallpaper borders that are nostalgic and focused on particular themes. If they are put around the ceiling, it gives the
room a homey feel.

I have been working as a director for 2 years now. The resident's in our facility are really into bingo and
butter bean auction but it is very hard for me to get residents involved in anything else.  I have tried a
lot of things but I'm running out of ideas.  

That is a tough one - some residents really like their bingo.  You have to ask yourself - why do they like this activity
so much? Is it the prizes?  Special group of residents?  Room it is held in?  If that is the case, maybe you can
replicate some of the ambiance of that activity into others.  Have you ever done a resident interest survey to see
what other activities they would like?  You didn't say if you were assisted living or nursing home and if you have
assessment information available.  Have you tried introducing raffles and door prizes into other activities.  Maybe if
they knew they had the chance of winning something (something small) at other activities, they would be interested.  
Are the titles of your other activities interesting and enticing?  Sometimes, the schedule gets a little humdrum and
people lose interest.  It is hard to say - not knowing your residents and their level of functioning.

We have a resident who is agitated in the early afternoons. Her behaviors include: calling out, weeping,
moaning, yelling, and cursing repetitively.  What one on one activity to you recommend to help decrease
these verbal behaviors?

My answer is based on your description of this person.  Not being there makes it hard to offer an individualized
approach.  But my first impression is the person is tired because she is showing the signs and symptoms in the
afternoon.  If she has been up all day and has just had lunch - she probably needs a nap or some quiet, relaxation
time.  If someone is tired and needs a nap, there is no 1-1 activity that will ease that angst.  If I had to do an activity
with this resident, I would take her to a quiet location, dim the lights, put some relaxation music on and do a hand
massage, if she let me.  I would encourage her to close her eyes and relax a bit.  If you had a multi-sensory room
(Snoezelen) room, I would try that as well.  But, I really think she needs to go back to bed for an afternoon rest,
based on what you are saying.

I am new in the Activities Department. I am the Director (I am a COTA). I wanted to know if there is any
where I can go to find out what the state requires as far as the number one on ones needed or what has
to be on your calendar each month? I have no idea where to go for these answer, I am in

This is the web site I use to look up state regulations.
You can look up by state or by topic.  
In my experience, the regulations are not that specific in saying you must have 1-1's a certain time per week.  The
language of the regulations is usually "to meet the needs of the resident" and such like that.  They stipulate we
should have activities in small, large groups and on individual basis but often don't define frequency.  In NJ, our
regulations do state we must provide a certain number of minutes per week of activities to each resident weekly - but
I think NJ is one of the few that make that notation.
And they are referencing all activity, not just 1-1.  
If you need any additional information, feel free to e-mail me back.


I am interested in certification for chair yoga. I believe our Residents would enjoy a change and I would
like to be able to teach my activity staff.  Could you suggest or recommend a class or website for more
information. I'm also looking into taking two classes for my remainder of CEU's I need for this year.
(Activity Professionals' Journey and possibly Developing a Resident council).  I have a Resident Council
program but I would like it to be better.

Found a chair yoga certification site by searching on Yahoo.  I really don't know much about it so I cannot
recommend one or the other.  But, you might want to network with this person as she seems to have made a career
out of chair yoga.

All the continuing education programs can be found on my site at
I have a new one on drama therapy which should be approved this week and another one on special care units
almost ready to go into NCCAP for approval.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me.

I have recently decided to explore other career paths and have found myself drawn to working with
seniors.  I have come across a position for Director of Activity Therapy and desire such a position.  The
job requires completion of the 90 hour activity training course or certification by the national council for
activity professionals.  Where can I find more information regarding costs and training locations?  
Where do I start?  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

The course is taught throughout the country.  You can access all the instructors on the NCCAP site at http://www. They are listed by state.

The course is taught in traditional classroom setting and you would have to contact an instructor in your area to see
where and when they are teaching. It is also taught through independent study.  All the instructors are listed on the
NCCAP site.

I teach the class in NJ in the classroom setting and I also offer the course through independent study which you can
start at any time.  You can access information about my courses on my web site.

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

If your assistant is not qualified how long till they have to be?

There really are no requirements for assistant credentials.  Any decision or deadline for the assistant to meet
certain qualifications would be up to the facility and any policies that they have.

Question:  I am interested in becoming a activity assistant in the Cincinnati Ohio area.  What schools
have this training available?

 There are several instructors in Ohio.  You would have to contact them each to see where and when they
all teach.

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


Question:  I'm from Illinois. I'm interested in completing the 36-40-hour requirement
to work as an activity coordinator. How do I proceed?

I would suggest you contact your state activity association regarding classes in your State.  Hopefully, they can refer you to an instructor for the course you mention.
I am only familiar with the MEPAP (Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals, 2nd Edition) which is a
nationally accredited course  (  for the activity professional.  Completion of the entire course would
be 180 hours of education and 180 hours of practicum.
If you need information on that course, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

 Hi Debbie, where can I find a Good In Room Sheet for visits I make? The one I
have is terrible!!!

Answer:  This is the one I use.  I like having a separate page for each resident. It is also good to note content of
visit and response to visit.  (For a copy
click here)
Good luck,
Debbie Hommel, Acc/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Girl, I have switched careers....from teaching for 21 yrs. to being an
activity director....and I LOVE it.  Got my 90 hr. course done and, is there a site I can use to help give me ideas for special
events?  Like I want to start planning something for Valentines but don't
have a clue.  Thanks, Debbie.  

Answer:  Welcome to the activity profession.  Teachers often make a successful transition to activities as there are
similarities in planning activities and planning lessons.  As far as ideas for special events - I have a link on my site
with all the theme based sites.  There are lots of ideas for each holiday on these sites.
They often have the history of the holiday, trivia for the holiday, crafts, recipes and games associated with the
holidays.  There is also the web site which offers theme based activity ideas but you
have to subscribe to the site.
Good luck and happy new year!
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am try to find a class in Arkansas for activity certification.

Answer:  It does not look like there are any NCCAP approved instructors in Arkansas.
If you are close to Texas - there are several instructors there.  Or you can consider doing the course through
independent study.  
Here is the link to the NCCAP site for the Texas instructors and there is also a listing of the approved instructors who
offer the course through independent study on that page.

I  offer the course through independent study and you can find information about my course on my web site at http:

If you need additional information - feel free to e-mail me back and best wishes for a happy new year, Debbie

Question:  Do you have a consultant forum for consultants to get on and talk about topic that are happening in thier
state?  I am a national certified consultant, there are some Activity Directors working as consultants in our state that
are not nationally certified.

My concern is they are telling their facilities that they need to do dual programming.  For example, having another
activity going on the same time that church or outings are going on.  Well there are independent activities available
all the time, how do others feel about this type of programming?  Is it necessary?

Thanks for your help

Answer:  There are a number of activity based bullitin boards where you could post your question and generate a
discussion.  I am a consultant in NJ and you are right, there are people working as consultants when they do not
have the NCCAP credentials.  The regulations for consultants vary from state to state, with some states making no
reference at all to having a consultant, the qualifications of a consultant or needing one. Not knowing which state
you are from, it would be hard to comment on activity directors working as consultants.  In NJ, the qualified
professional (activity directors meeting state and federal requirements) can work as consultants.

Regarding your comments about dual programming...I think it depends on the population.  There are some
populations (such as assisted living ) who could occupy themselves with independent activities when they choose
not to participate in something.  But there are other populations where they could not occupy themselves and might
become agitated or anxious or just not have a very good day without a structured program to engage them.  I
believe in dual programming as I believe residents should have choices.  If there is only one choice and I do not like
the one choice, it leaves me out in the cold - even if I am able to pursue independent activities, it would be nice to
have an alternate group available.  

As far as it being necessary - in NJ  - in a nursing home, we would be cited by the DOH if the only activity were
church or an outing and the remainder of the building had no group alternative. If staffing is an issue, the alternate
activity could be simple or set up by nursing assistants - like showing a movie or putting table games or diversional
materials out or possibility a nursing assistant could call bingo for a short period of time.  

Here is a listing of all the bulletin boards that I know of where you can post your question and see what others say.

There is also the NCCAP Bulletin Board.

Hope that helps and happy holidays,
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am interested in getting a certification as an activity professional and am requesting information from
you as to how I can go about acquiring the same. I do have 3 years of experience working in an Adult Day Care
Center. Kindly advise me.

Answer:  In order to become national certified through NCCAP, you would need to take the MEPAP course.  With the
MEPAP course and your experience - you would qualify for ADPC.  Eventually, you would need 12 college credits
and contining education to complete the certification process.  What state do you live in?  I can refer you to an
instructor, if you give me that information.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I'm 52 years old, a freelance writer specializing in health writing and
medical marketing, and I'm also a qigong instructor. (Qigong is a little
like t'ai chi.) I taught qigong at an assisted living facility in Baltimore,
and I really enjoyed working there. I think I did well with the residents,
who nearly all had some form of dementia. Unfortunately, the facility would
not pay me, so I left. Now I'm teaching qigong at a retirement community,
and again, I'm loving it. My freelance work is down, and I've had a gut
feeling for a while now that I'd really like to be an activities director.
What are the realistic chances that I could do this? I love motivating
people, organizing events (I organize workshops when my qigong master comes
to town to teach), feeling as though I'm being of help, remembering who's
who and who likes what, coming up with solutions to challenges...etc. I do
have a college degree. Do you think there would be places that would be
interested in hiring me as I took courses to learn along the way? I feel as though I'd be a natural at
a job like this, but I realize there are many things to learn.

Answer:  Depending on where you live now and if you choose to work in assisted living, independent living or skilled
nursing - the answer would vary.

Traditionally - independent living and assisted living are less regulated and you may be able to find a position based
on your organizational and communication skills - as you point out.
Skilled nursing, on the other hand, is more regulated and you would have to meet certain requirements, regardless
of your skills and talents.

Most states require a degree in a related field or therapeutic recreation or completion of the 90 MEPAP class and
some experience.  I could better answer that if I knew your state.  I think your chances are realistic, depending on
which setting you choose to pursue. I believe anything is possible, if you put your mind to it.  Skilled nursing would
definitely take more training.

You can access information about the training on my web site.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me back and again - I apologize for delay in response.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I need a good care plan sheet to do care plans
with I have had several different ones given to me but I need one real good

Answer:  Care plan forms are usually just several columns allowing for each aspect of the care plan to be
Columns for problem/need; goal; interventions; responsible discipline; evaluation; and dates are the usual columns.
Not sure what you are looking for beyond that?

Or are you referring to a care plan book?  With sample care plans?

Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC?EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am seeking interest as a Activity Director in Detroit Michigan  i want
pursue the course do you know where i can  to get certified or trained.

Answer:  There are three instructors who teach the MEPAP in Michigan.  You will need to contact them each directly
to see where they teach and when.

You can also complete the course through independent study or on the internet.  The instructors who offer the
course that way are listed on the NCCAP instructor page at

I also offer the course through independent study as well.  You can access that information on my web site.

If you need any additional information - feel free to e-mail me.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Earlier last year, I began my first experience as an Activity Director at an
assisted-living nursing facility. Although I did not get adequate training,
considering I was totally inexperienced in the field, I did quite well until
I was unexpectedly placed on bed rest 4 months into the job. I really enjoyed
the job and have a strong passion in making a difference in the lives of
seniors so I am seeking to get back into the field and have an interview for
the same position next week with another company. I really want the job, but
do you think that my lack of "experience" might hinder my chances? Do you
have any pointers that could help me stand out and above any other potential

Answer:  Assisted living is less regulated than skilled nursing facilities.  When seeking a candidate for the activity
position, administration often seeks individuals with certain qualities and skills. I would create a functionally based
resume which focuses more on your skills rather than lack of experience.  If you have good organizational skills,
good communication skills, are resourceful and are creative - those skills are helpful in the job and should be
highlighted.  If you have any photos or mementos of your four month stay at your previous facility - creating a
portfolio which highlights your talents and some of the things you have done would be appropriate also.

Good luck,
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC, EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am interested in working as an activity director
in an assisted living facility.  The only experience I have is working for
the city/government as a program coordinator for a senior center.  I do not
have a college degree either. What are the requirements and is my training
planning activities in a senior center enough? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Answer:  There are no federal regulations for assisted living, only state requirements and they vary from state to
state.  I know in NJ, there are no requirements for the director's credentials.  If you told me which state you were
from, I might be able to find the regulations for you.  I would think your experience with well elderly in a senior center
would relate to the elderly living in assisted living so it is not a far reach to make that transition.  It just depends on
regulations which we would have to find.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  One of our facilities are opening a special unit for Alz. residents.  What
equipment and supplies would be most beneficial to this resident

Answer:  The answer to that question depends on what level of functioning resident will be living on the unit.  The
materials and approaches would vary depending on whether they are in the earlier stages of dementia or later
stages.  For the early and middle stages, life skill programming, memory games, and active games are all
successful.  For the later stages, you would need sensory materials and possibly a multi-sensory room.  If you let me
know what level of functioning resident you will be working with, I could better assist.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU. CTRS

Question:  Do you have any articles on boyfriend- girlfriend care planning within a
facility? I'm not sure how to care plan on two residents that have become a
couple. Do I need to? Is this a social services issue? Any insight would be

Answer:  If they are consenting adults and there is no harm happening to either of them, there is no problem and no
need for a care plan.  It might become a problem if one of the residents is not oriented and is being manipulated or
taken advantage of  by the second resident.  But, if they are happy and enjoying each other's company, there is no
problem.  If you have any doubts, it would be something to discuss with the social worker for sure.  
Good luck!
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I need activity ideas for a resident that is blind, hard of
hearing and he is cognitively losing it more and more every day. Thanks

Answer:  That is a challenging case.  I wonder if his cognitive loss is related to his sensory loss.  The symptoms of
sensory deprivation are very close to symptoms of cognitive impairment.

In any case, it sounds like sensory stimulation is the best approach.  I would suggest looking at his history and
seeing what activitiess/occupations he pursued.  Then I would try and find tactile and olfactory items to relate to
those past interests.  Of course, one would need to establish trust with this individual prior to trying the sensory
approach.  Individuals with hearing loss can still hear some things through a walk man, so if he like music, that might
be something to try.  Hand massages with scented lotion is enjoyed by men as well as woman.  I wouldn't pick a floral
scent but something more neutral.  Sorting items by shape and texture might be something he could do as well.  Not
knowing his background or history makes it hard to suggest specifics but those are some of the areas I would
Good luck,
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, STRS

Question:  I just sent you an email.  Forgot to ask how often should you renew your AD

Answer:  The NCCAP renewal period is every two years.  They send your renewal forms about 2-3 months prior to
your expiration date.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am looking for a place where I can order a bulletin for my activity hall.
I have ordered the calendars which measures 38x50.  Do you know where I can
find a bulletin?

Answer:  OfficeMax, Staples and most office supply stores carry the larger bulletin boards.  Just put bulletin boards
into the Yahoo search engine and lots of sites come up.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  How do I get my staff to become more involved with one to one programming,
and to follow the residents goal and not their own? By getting them to
understand what a one to one program really is and what is the purpose.

Answer:  I think the best way to get staff to understand an approach or new idea is to offer inservicing.  Introducing
the basic purpose of programming (whether than be group or 1-1) is a good introductory inservice for your staff.  
When inservicing staff, make sure they sign an attendance sheet which verifies they were there and heard the
information. If they continue to not comply with protocol, then you will need to coach and counsel them.  Additionally,
what kind of systems to you have in place to guide the 1-1 visits.  Is there a 1-1 visit book, with a listing of
appropriate approaches for each person - based on their care plans?  Is there a documentation system which
follows up on care plan interventions?  If so, and they do not follow this, then more coaching and counseling is in
order.  Do the staff have enough time to conduct the visits?  Are the 1-1 visit duties distributed fairly amongst your
staff?  Have you considered dedicating one staff member to the 1-1 visit responsibility?  Many facilities are adjusting
duties to allow one person to conduct all the visits.  

I have a great independent study program on 1-1 visits available on my web site.
It defines how to set up the program and  many ideas for 1-1 programming.
It is a great book, even without the independent study program.

Hope that helps.  If you need more information, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I had to do a care plan on a Resident and now the
DON seems to think I need to do one on every single soul we have thats over
a 100 residents there is no way this can be done unless I am to stop all
activities and do them do I need to do each Resident? If so Why?

Answer:  The current thinking is to create interdisciplinary care plans which focus on the individual needs of the
resident and allow the team to participate in meeting those needs.  To say each resident needs an activity specific
care plan does not coincide with that current thinking.  I can see where activities would have input into many of the
care plans, adding interventions as appropriate.  But to create a separate activity specific problem, need, goal and
intervention for every resident is not what the regulations state.  Maybe the DON was so pleased with the input you
offered, she simply wants more?  Maybe she is suggesting you should  have stronger input into the care plans by
adding interventions? I encourage you to speak with your DON and discuss your concerns as mentioned.
Good luck,
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am a Recreational Specialist, I would like to become certified. I live in
WV. I have worked as an Activity Assistant for the last 11 years, then I
moved up to Recreational Specialist. I have taken the MEPAP 1 & 2 course,
but I really do not want to take a college course at the age of 51. Is the a
course out there that I can take to be certified without the college English
course? Any information will be helpful.

Answer:  You could become Activity Director Provisional Certified with what you have now.
ADPC is meeting three of five standards which include
  • MEPAP I (you have)
  • MEPAP 2 (you have)
  • 6000 hours experience (you exceed)
  • 12 college credits
  • 30 hours continuing education.

You could obtain the ADPC with what you have now and you could renew that for six years.  I would hope that you
would change your mind toward taking a few college courses.  Even at 51 (which is rather young, considering the
people we work with), taking a college course or two is very do-able.  Once you get through the english, you can
take some fun courses which may interest you such as a psychology or gerontology course.  You could take a
computer course or art or music appreciation course to meet the remainder of
the requirements.   In any case, you could get certified without the college
but eventually would have to take the 12 credits to remain ADC certified.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am a activity director in the state of Kentucky and have been for two
years. I want to become nationally certified but do not know how to go about
doing it. Can you help?

Answer:  Hi, in order to become nationally certified, you will have to take the MEPAP course at some point.
You may qualify for activity assistant certified now if you have some college credits.  
It does not look like Kentucky has any MEPAP instructors in the state.  The course is available through independent
study.  I offer the course through that venue.  You can start the course at any time and complete it at your own
pace.  Information about my course is on my web site.

There are a number of other MEPAP instructors who offer the course through independent study and on line as well.
You can find their names on the NCCAP web site on the instructor page.

Taking the MEPAP course or beginning to acquire some continuing education is the first step toward becoming
nationally certified.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I Googled your website and I'm interested to know about what and how can I get the course of Activity
Director and how much is the expenses. And if you have classes here in LA, Ca near in my place. Please send me
any free magazine of yours regarding activity director's course so that I will have idea on the said course.

Answer:  There is one MEPAP instructor in CA.  You would have to contact her to find out where and when she
offers the course.

There are a number of instructors who also offer the course through independent study.  It is offered through
internet access, videos and similar independent study approaches.  I offer the course through independent study
and my program is done through readings, projects, You tube video analsis, internet research, observation and
implementation of groups and similar tasks.  You can access information about my program on my web site at

You can access the list of all the other instructors who offer the course through independent study on the NCCAP
site at this link.

If you need additional information, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC?EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am interested in activities for long term care facility residents. What resources do you have?

Answer:  There are lots of resources on the internet - programming sites, books, theme sites, topic specific sites,
holiday sites, disease specific sites.  
I have a lot of links listed on my web site - broken into categories.
You can check them out at
If there is a specific type of activity you are looking for, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Hi is there a web site that I can go to get
information on easy seasonal craft, to use in my activities.

Answer:  I have a lot of crafts links listed on my site.

I also have a lot of theme based web sites listed which have craft ideas as well.

Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I have been working as an Activities Coordinator in a Long Term Care/Sub
acute setting for 4 years.  I have a Medical Assistant Certification from
Ross Medical and I am a Certified Nurses' Assistant.  My MA is not current,
but I have worked the unit for 7 years - 3 as a CENA and 4 as a Activities
Coordinator.  They have recently asked me to get my certification-What would
be required for me to do this in the state of Michigan?

Answer:  There are no separate quality of life requirements for the state of Michigan.  So you need to fulfill federal
requirements for the qualified professional.  That means you would need the following: "The program must be
directed by a qualified recreational therapist or activities professional, eligible for State licensure; or a person with 2
years experience in a social or recreational program in the facility; or an occupational therapist or occupational
therapist assistant; or a person who has completed a training course approved by the state."

Seeking NCCAP certification would fulfill this requirement.  You can download the NCCAP standards from their web
site. NCCAP certification is a combination of education and work experience.
You have enough work experience for the certification but you would need to take the MEPAP courses and obtain
some additional continuing education.

Eventually, you would need to take at least 12 college credits.
You could qualify for ADC under track 4 which is a combination of five criteria.
  • Six thousand hours work experience in activities within past five years (equivalent to three years).
  • 30 hours of continuing education in activity/health care topics
  • 12 college credits (including an English).

You could become ADPC (Activity Director Provisional Certified) if you had any three of those five criteria.
You could also seek the AAC certification as well.  All that information is on the NCCAP brochure.

In Michigan, there are three instructors who offer the course.
  • Cathie Coleman  Northville  248-437-7450  MEPAP 2nd Edition
  • Debbie Whybra  South Lyon  586-907-4438  MEPAP 2nd Edition
  • Diane Zide  Whitmore  734-449-9075  MEPAP 2nd Edition

The course is also offered through independent study (which I offer and you can check it out on my web site at
www. There are other instructors who also offer the course through independent study and you
can see the full listing on the NCCAP web site on the instructor page.

If you have additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Dear Debbie,hi Debbie, we are building a new Alzheimer's unit
20 beds i am an activity director but i want to become Alzheimer's or
dementia certify what do i need to do. Need advice.

Answer:  If you are certified through the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals - they have
specialization certifications to add to the initial certification.
If you are ADC (Activity Director Certified) or AAC (Activity Assistant Certified), you can add a Memory Care
Certification to your regular certification.
You can check that out at
There is also the Certified Dementia Practitioner Certification. You can check that out at If you have
any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.

Question:  Can you give me the number of the Federal regulation which requires an
activity assessment within five days of admission for sub-acute residents?

Answer:  To my knowledge, there is no specific regulation that says the activity department must do an activity
assessment within five days or even  14 days, if not sub acute.  In Federal regulations, when they reference
assessment, they use language such as "the facility will conduct an assessment" and then they reference content
and such.  There are statements throughout the assessment regulations which say the assessment will be
conducted after communication and observation of licensed and non licensed staff (again no specific reference to
In my experience, the facility establishes policies which define when the activity department (as well as other
departments) will assess.  I have worked with facilities that have a 24 or 48 hour assessment policy for all staff on a
sub acute unit.  I have also seen the range of assessment for long term care go from 7 days to 14.  Personally, I feel
a five day assessment is appropriate for the sub acute and the 14 day assessment for long term. I believe we should
take as much time as we can to ensure a full assessment is achieved.
If you need any additional information, feel free to e-mail me.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I'm an activity coordinator and I'm been in my position
for 5yrs and really want to become an activity director so how do I come
about being certified I'm in ____, IL close by Chicago can you please
help me to get started.

Answer:  According to the listing of instructors for Illinois on the NCCAP web site, there is only one instructor listed
for your state.
Donna Tennant  Fairview  304-376-5376  will teach in Illinois  MEPAP 2nd Edition

There are several instructors who also offer the course through independent study.  You can see the listing of
approved instructors on the NCCAP web site at

I am one of the instructors who teach course through independent study and you can review information about my
course on my web site.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Do you know of any sites that I can print free
certificates of appreciation of different kinds? Ive looked everywhere and
all cost. I think it would be a fun way to recognize different residents and
staff members. I also think it gives incentive and raises moral when
staff/residents are being recognized for various things and the residents
can help recognize hard work or just funny things about the staff. Visa
versa for residents. But I keep finding sites that I have to pay a lot for
this product.  Any ideas?

Answer:  Not sure what kind of computer programs you have but through Microsoft works, I have several certificate
templates.  Also, if you go through the Microsoft web site, they have free templates as well. There are some cheap
programs you can buy (I have seen them for less than $10 at Wal-Mart) like publisher, card creator and other
creative type programs and they all have

certificate templates in them as well.   If you do not have those, I would
think you could create something by putting a fancy border on a paper, put some images related to the award and
create your own.  They also sell inexpensive certificate paper at Staples and other office stores.  
Hope that helps,
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I have just received my ADC and I applied for a posting, one of the question
was what is the number on your certificate. I did not find one, just a
number mentioning the state code, so I used that one. Oregon state.

Answer:  If you are certified through NCCAP, there is a certification number on the big certificate they sent you and
also on your certification card.  It starts with the letters of your certification (ex. ADC...) If you just completed the
MEPAP course - that does not automatically certify you.  There may be a number on the certificate from your class
but that is the approval number for the instructor.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Is there a web-site or any place that shows how many minutes of activities a
resident should receive per week? No matter what state you live in.

Answer:  I use the following web site to look up state regulations.

Question:  If you could pick a resource book for an AD
starting out what is your #1 recommendation? I am looking for something that
is all encompassing (, crafts, and any projects that enhance and
stimulate). I am also looking for 1:1 activities  for residents that can not
participate in group activities.  Thanks

There are so many good books out there - it is hard to pick just one.  It also depends on your population.  There are
great books for a higher functioning group and more appropriate ones for the lower functioning residents.
More than a Game is a good programming book with a variety of activities.
Activities for the Elderly, Vol I and II are also good.  
Activity Planning at your Fingertips and the Activity Encyclopedia are also good activity idea resource books.
Time Well Spent - a Manual for Visiting Older Adults is a good 1-1 book with lots of good ideas for room visit
They are all available on my web site.

Question:  I have been a Activity director for 11 years and the other day I got some
paperwork given to me wanting the time spent doing certain things like for
example "in room" planning a activity I don't want to seem totally lost here
yet to tell the truth I am then this has to be added up so this is what type
of paperwork?

Answer:  Based on your e-mail, it sounds like they are doing a time study of how you spend your time.  Not sure
where this time study is coming from?  Your administrator? Your consultant?  Your corporatation?  If they are
looking at your planning tasks and how you are spending your day, it looks like they are assessing your time.  It is
hard to offer a reason why they are doing this, not knowing your situation.  But, there are no regulations or
requirements for such paperwork.  
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am an Activity Director for a long term care facility with 108 residents.
My assistant is in charge of keeping up with the residents daily activity
participation record, which we transfer the information from our daily
activity rosters and is extremely behind. I was not sure if you had a form,
template or idea of a fast or easier way to set this system up ?  I am
desperate and drowning in papers! Thanks!!

Answer:  I think the simplest way to monitor participation is with a one step process.  When you make lists or
highlight names on a census sheet for each activity and then have to copy that information onto another form - it
doubles the work.  My favorite attendance forms keep at least three months worth of attendance on one side of the
page.  Ideally, I would use six months per side and that would allow you to keep one year on one page (front and
back).  I like to use a grid system, where each day allows for notations of what was attended.  I like to use a code for
each activity however, the code should be kept simple.  What makes some attendance forms cumbersome is the
codes get too complicated or too many.  Sticking to the basic groups is well enough and including a simple code
system for the response is also good.  As far as entering the information, the staff could make a mental note of who
is at the program and enter the info as soon as returning to the office.  Once after morning programs and again
before leaving for the day.
Most people can remember who was at the program, with a reminder of names as they go through the attendance
book. If they do not keep up with the entries on a daily basis - that is when information will be lost.   Hope that makes
sense.  If you need more info or I could scan and e-mail you some sample attendance forms, feel free to e-mail me.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am very excited to be starting a new career as
an Activities Director for a long term nursing home. I have also been
approached to work in an Alzheimer's unit as such. I have studied
Alzheimer's extensively and it seems to be maybe a little easier than the
regular Activities Director position because of the excellent but more
subdued activities I would present. What are your thoughts on this as I do not
want to get in over my head at the beginning, but I think I would really like it.

Answer:  It would be hard to say if one job is "easier" than another.  Each job has it's challenges and joys.  Certainly,
working as a director of the entire facility has multiple tasks, responsibilities and challenges in meeting the needs of
multiple functioning residents and needs.  However, acting as director for a dementia unit is challenging in it's own
way.  Depending on the level of functioning residents (what level of dementia the general
population is), creates  various challenges.   There is also a difference in
"studying" the topic of Alzheimer's and actually working with them.  So, it is hard for me to offer advice on this
question as there are so many variables.  I think you should explore all your options, take your time in making a
decision and use a logical decision making model to make your decision.  
Good luck,
Debbie Hommel, ACC, MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I have an interview coming up and this will be my
first for the position of AD.  What are key questions I should ask about the
AD position and the facility that pertain to my job as AD?  

Answer:  I think it is a great approach to have some prepared questions for the interview.  Candidates often overlook
the process of interviewing the employer  as the employer interviews the potential employee.  Some of my favorite
questions are:
   What are the staffing ratios in activities?
   What is the budget range for the department? And does that include food costs and entertainment costs?
   Does the department have a working computer?  Color printer?
Digital camera? Internet access?
   Does the facility practice person centered care?  (it would be interesting to see if the interviewer knew what you
were talking about).
   Is the facility involved in culture change? (again would be interesting to see how they respond to this concept)
   Is there interdisciplinary involvement in activities (beyond assisting resident to and from activities)
   Are their any pets in the facility?
   Do they support education by paying for educational seminars and providing a day's pay and travel expenses?
   How does the interviewer (if it is the administrator) perceive activities?  
   What is the interviewer's definition of a good activity department (again, if it is the administrator) and what do they
expect from the department?
Hope that helps and good luck,
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  How can I become a certified activity consultant?

Answer:  There are three tracks (different ways) you can become a certified consultant through NCCAP.  You can
see all the information on the NCCAP web site or print out the standards booklet and all the
information is there as well.  But to sum it up - you would need a bachelors degree, the MEPAP course (both 1 and
2), two years of work experience in activities, 40 hours of continuing education and 200 hours of consulting
experience.  If you have a Masters degree, you would need only one year of experience.  They also have an
alternate way through track 3 which involves a special project and tasks.  You would need to request a packet from
NAAP regarding that path.  If you need more specific information regarding your credentials and how you fit in, feel
free to e-mail me.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I absolutely love my subscription and the website along with the many other
links on it---it is so helpful and full of knowledge and ideas---Keep up the
good work!!

My question is this, I have transferred to a sister facility within our
corporation by request of the Corp. V.P Operations/Activity Consultant and
the V.P. Operations/Nursing. There was a great need for updating and change
in the area of activities as well as failure to document, assess, budget and
supplies issues with prior two employees. While I have expeierenced this
atmosphere before in the first factiltiy they hired me to "clean up" I know
and understand the feelings I have being stressed and overwhelmed which is
only increased w/ State Survey due any day to walk in. What should I have
preparred when they walk in and see this mess so I do not get an F-tag in
activities?  And do you have a questionaire I can use for interviewing
applicants to be my AD?  Obviously I am at a disadvantage not knowing the
residents names, where they are in their disease process, needs/wants and it
will take quit some time to re-assess every resident. I cannot count on the
information prior of the care plans they are all messed up and not up to standards.   Please

Answer:  Your kind words about the subscription are forwarded to Bob and Linda Lucas.
They are the creators and managers of the Activity Director's Office web site and publication.  I just write one of the
columns and answer the questions to "Dear Debbie".  You are right though - they do a great job putting it together
every month.

Regarding your situation, I always believe the best policy is to be up front and honest.  You are right - it would be
impossible to re-assess everyone effectively and meaningfully in a short period of time.  I would suggest creating a
formal plan of action.  The action plan would state how you will be re-assessing a certain number of residents per
day or week, with a target date of completion.  I would start with your most critical units or residents first, such as
those residents with special needs (cognitive loss, isolation, behaviors).  Possibly using the Quality Indicator report
to identify those residents with special needs would help.  You could also include in the action plan - specific
programs you want to introduce, supplies that need purchasing, training for staff and all the other tasks you want to
accomplish. There should be target dates for each task.  I would also keep record of all that was accomplished
(assessments completed, new programs introduced, supplies purchased, training completed). I would think as long
as the state sees you have a plan, are focused, are moving forward and getting results, I would hope they would be
accepting of this even if it is not where it needs to be when they walk in the door.
Good luck!
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I was wondering if you could assist me. I am n need of 30 ceu's in one month. A lot of these online
courses only offer 6 to 10 hours which is only equal to one ceu. Do you know of a site I may obtain more ceu's?

Answer:  Are you sure you need CEU's or do you need contact hours?  30 CEU's is a lot because you are right - 1
contact hour =.1 ceu.
For which certification do you need these hours for?

Question:  I am looking for a new Sub acute initial activity form.  Have any suggestions?

Answer:  your email was forwarded to me by the Activity Director's Office.  As far as sub acute initial assessments, I
have found they are basically shortened versions of the long term one.  In creating one, we have to ask ourselves,
what do we need to know that will help us plan an appropriate program for the short term resident.  Many people
amend the interest inventory, focusing on interests more relevant to the younger resident or one who is not staying
long term.  More specific questions about what they might do during their recovery, such as reading, cards,
correspondence, games, movies and the like.  More specific questions about the type and scope of these individual,
diversional activities are more relevant to someone who might not be staying long.

Another adjustment to the assessment form is to look more closely at the need for adaptations for the injury or
illness the individual is coping with.  Adaptive equipment, assistance in learning new ways to do leisure tasks and
activities and introduction of new interests which could better suit the individual in their current state are possible
topics to review.  The narrative of the assessment could focus on immediate needs and any assistance that should
be offered to assist the individual in discharge.  The need for community resources is another area that might be
assessed for the short term resident.

Hope that helps and if not, feel free to e-mail me.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  Trying to find some new forms,   one is for residents council voting forms, that time of year ,looking for a
new president, secretary.

Answer:  Hi, I don't have any resident council voting forms specifically.  I would think you would follow a simple ballot
type form, easy enough for the residents to complete.

On one page, list the positions, the candidates running and lines next to them so the resident can mark with an X.  I
would make them large print so they can do it independently.  I would make a ballot box to have at the meeting, so
they can place their ballots in the box independently.  If there is something else you were looking for, let me know.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I have been an Activity Director for over 20 yrs. The Marketing Director, Office Manager and
Administrator have interviewed me. The Admin. has requested a group interview next week, I am not sure what to
expect, after reviewing the current Activity Calendar I have found the programming is limited and lacks motivation
and Title 22 requirements.

I have taken the time to write up a presentation sharing Activity programming, which is currently lacking
implementing a Resident Counsel, Volunteer Program, Men's Club, Church and spiritual services, and tools, which
would increase attendance and activity participation. Since the Admin.

Wants to include the department heads with the hiring decision and are looking for an AD who has the ability to
assist with Marketing do you think this type of presentation would be useful. Also part of my duties is to take
residents to appointments, shopping and outings. The Admin. stressed during our interview they have been
accepting many SSI residents and my wage could be no higher then $11.00 per hour. I feel the company could pay
and should pay the minim of $12.75 for the area and size of the facility. The facility is very upscale and not a typical
SSI facility. I got the feeling poor marketing and the lack of quality activities is causing a decrease in private pay. I
have researched t!
he company and website and it screams private pay to me.

Bottom line do you feel I should complete my activity and marketing presentation or just just prepare the usual
interview. Why would a facility only pay $11.00 per hour for such a demanding job description, do you have any
ideas on how I could negotiate a higher wage At least some bonuses or rewards besides the benefits they offer
which are excellent for such a struggling company.

Answer:  You have taken the pro-active approach by demonstrating to the facility that you are a qualified
professional who is confident in what they do and the positive outcomes related to your service. I think you should
go ahead with your proposal and see how they respond.  Your approach in pointing out how they might entice more
private paying residents is a sound approach when speaking to administrative staff as they are the business
managers and their goal is to keep the business solvent.  Unfortunately - if the budget is so defined that $11 per
hour is all they have allotted - their hands may be tied.  However, I do think some administrators get a bit creative
when they want certain things.  Possibly, your presentation might urge them to become creative and find some way
to shift more funds to your salary.  Also , if you can substantiate the average for the area through salary surveys,
that might influence them to bring their salary up to the average at least.  If you look up "how to negotiate a higher
salary offer" on yahoo - you have done all they suggest.  1. Know how much your peers make.  2. Polish and boast
about your skills. 3. Don't be afraid to negotiate.  
Good luck,

Question:   I am interested in taking over the Activities Department when our current LTA Director retires.  She had
no formal training as it was not required when she was first hired.  According to the Department of Health website, I
need to be certified as a Activities Director.  

I would like to request information that would help me learn the steps in fulfilling my dream of becoming the Activities
Director.  Please send any schooling information or pamphlets that would tell me how to go about this task.

Answer:  Certification through the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals is recognized in federal
regulations and many state regulations.  I assume this is the certification you are referencing.
The certification is a combination of work experience, continuing education and formal education.  There are several
tracks where you can pursue certification, depending on how much work experience and education you have.  
You can download the application and certification standards on the NCCAP web site.  and I have
also attached them to this email for you.  

The Modular Education Course for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) is a required component toward becoming
nationally certified.  There are approved instructors in every state.  
These are the ones in NY.  You would have to contact them to see where/when they are offering the course.

The course is also offered through independent study, on line and other non-traditional means.  You can find the
instructors who teach that way on the instructor page of the NCCAP web site.  

I also offer the course through independent study as well.  You can access information about my course on my web

It all may seem overwhelming at first, but develop a plan and break it down  - step by step and you can certainly
achieve your goal of becoming an activity director.
If you need any further clarification of the certification process, feel free to email me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC, CTRS

Question:  I am a recent MTSU graduate with my major in Therapeutic Recreation and minor in Exercise and
Science Health.  I am having a lot of trouble finding activities/recreation jobs around Tennessee.  I have attached my
resume.  I would appreciate any tips or feedback you may have.  Thank you for your time.

Answer:  Hi, it is sometimes difficult to "get your foot in the door" as they say.  But, my initial impression of your
resume finds minimal experience beyond your current position and your internship within the field of TR or activities.  
I would suggest creating a "functional" resume which highlights your skills and abiltiies rather than direct work
experience.  A functional resume focuses on acquired skills of communication, organization, planning, etc.  Those
are skills that are helpful in the activity/recreation job.  If you could pull that experience from your other positions, it
might help you get into this new field.
Good luck!

Question:  Hey,I have a general question regarding becoming an Activity Director. I understand that the director
creates activity plans for the seniors. I wanted to know if they also participate in the activities with the seniors?Is it
more than events, or are there arts and crafts involved as well? Or is that the job of the activity director assistant?
Thank you for reading this.

Answer:  Depending on the setting and how large the facility is, the director is still involved in the actual running of
activities. To give up the direct contact with the residents would be a mistake in my mind.  Interacting and working
with the residents is the main reason we do what we do and to give that up would be sad for most dedicated activity
professionals.  So, to answer your question - yes directors still run activities - maybe not as many as the assistants
but most like to keep themselves involved.  

As far as what type of activities are done - we do the full gamut of leisure and recreational activities.  We offer
physical (exercise, active games), mental (word games, thinking games, discussion groups), social (coffee socials,
parties), spiritual (church, bible study type programs), sensory and supportive (adaptive groups for the cognitively
impaired), creative (crafts, music and other expressive programs) and many more types of activities.  
If you have any more specific questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Question:  I am interested in getting certified as an activity director, in order to work at a nursing home, assisted
living facility, and rehab. My preferred method is to take an online course from home, where I don't have to travel to
a certain school to take courses. Is there a way for me to d a remote course online? If so how many hours is it?
Does it vary by state or can I take a course that is nationally accredited? How much does it cost?

Here are my educational professional qualifications:

1.Master's degree, Tufts University, Massachusetts, Music Therapy.

2. 7 years of experience at working  at nursing homes and assistant living facilities.

3.Worked as a music therapist and performed music for the elderly

I live in Colorado.

Answer:  There are a number of people who offer the course through independent study. You can find all the
instructors at the NCCAP web site  Go to the instructor listing page and they are listed there.

I teach the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) which is nationally accredited through
NCCAP and is applicable toward national certification through the National Certification Council for Activity
I teach the course through independent study which can be started at any time. The course is broken into two parts
(Part I and II) and each part is divided into six lessons.  Each part is equivalent to 180 hours of education, broken
into 90 hours of learning activities and tasks and 90 hours of practicum which needs to be completed in an
approved setting (nursing home, assisted living or medical day program).  You would eventually need to complete
both parts to fulfill the national certification requirements.

You can read more about my course on my web site.
If you have more specific questions about the course and the process, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC, CTRS

Question:  How do most activity directors keep track of the attendance that the residents come to activities?

Answer:  There are a number of ways the activity department keeps track of daily participation.  There are various
checklists, grids and calendar systems which allow the department to track what the resident attended and how they
participated.  The department has to determine what information is relevant to keep and introduce the most efficient
method.  Some departments maintain several step and involved attendance systems because "they have always
done it that way".  My favorite method is a three month grid (I also like six and 12 month grids).  The advantage of
that time frame is that the information can be coordinated with the quarterly notes.  Some facilities keep six months
on one side of the paper and another six months on the second side.    The code system that would go with the grid
should be simple.  Some facilities introduce a separate code for each activity which becomes cumbersome.  Having
codes indicating the domain of the activity (active, social, spiritual, creative, etc.) would suffice.  There should also
be a code for level of participation or response or refusal.  You may be asking how do we fit all that on one form - it
is doable, if the codes are utilized properly and staff are neat in their entries.  Hope that helps. If you have additional
questions, feel free to e-mail me back.
Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC, CTRS
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