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by Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, Executive Director of DH Special Services.
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DEAR DEBBIE:
“25 Years of Creating Heartfelt Memories”
National Activity Professionals’ Week – 2007
Submitted by Debbie Hommel, ACC

As we pack up the trees and put away the holiday videos – let’s not forget there is one more
celebration.  The good news is - this one is for us: the activity professional.  January 21 through 26th is
National Activity Professionals Week.  National recognition days serve many purposes – to educate, to
acknowledge, to draw attention to something and to celebrate.  National Activity Professionals Week
can serve all these purposes, depending on how your department approaches the week.   
Educating staff, families and the community about the values and benefits of therapeutic activities is a
daily responsibility for every activity department.  As a profession, we are still “paying our dues”
because we are a rather new profession.  People need to understand there is a “method to our
madness” and that all our programs and approaches have a purpose.  NAPW is a perfect time to
conduct in-services, offer to speak at family meetings or go out into the community and conduct
informative talks about the benefits of activity involvement.  Creating informative posters or tri-boards
can be displayed during this week as a means to communicate the benefits of each activity offered in
the long term care community.  

While education is essential, acknowledging the work and the success of the profession is also an
important goal for the week.  Many an activity professional has heard the phrase   “I wish I could be paid
to have fun all day”.  Yes, most of us do enjoy our work and it is to our credit, we make it all look so
easy. But, we all know the hours of preparation and planning that go into our daily, weekly and monthly
programs.  Acknowledging the activity staff during this week provides an opportunity to thank the
department and individual staff for their hard work and efforts throughout the year.  Our National Activity
Association (NAAP) offers recognition gifts with this year’s logo and there are a number of other
“activity” stores which offer activity clothing and gifts which could be presented during this week as a
form of recognition.

National recognition days can also be used to draw attention to the profession or cause.  As mentioned
early, the therapeutic activity profession is a new profession, having been a paid profession in long
term care since the late 1960’s.  The first individuals who worked in the activity department were nice
enough, but many were initially untrained and unskilled.  Today’s activity professional must have
specific training and certain skills.  We have national, state and local professional organizations which
represent us.  We have standards of practice, ethics and regulations which define the scope and
parameter of our work.  As a new profession, we are still gaining respect and earning our place at the
“big table”.  National Activity Professionals’ Week would be an opportunity to convey that this is an
established profession which has professionals who do professional work.   Creating a bulletin board,
a tri-fold board or a simple brochure which outlines the history of therapeutic activities and our growth
as a profession would communicate this well.  Information which could be utilized for the board is
available to members of NAAP.

Finally, let’s do what we are known best for – have a celebration.   Celebrate with your fellow activity
professionals, celebrate with facility staff and of course, celebrate with the residents.    Getting the
department together for a celebratory meal, formally or informally should be a part of the week for all
activity departments.  Whether you are able to all go out to a local restaurant or order in pizza, a shared
meal creates a sense of community.   Celebrate with your facility staff.  Bring donuts or Danish to the
department head meeting during the week.  Give out the informative brochure that you created for your
department and involve the department heads in our celebration.    Schedule an “activities” open
house, with refreshments, balloons and games. Send out invitations to all departmental staff and invite
them to join the celebration.  While they are visiting your department and sharing in those
refreshments, there is opportunity for them to review the informative posters or tri-fold boards you have
created and displayed.  Lastly, schedule a party with your residents and their families.   Give out “activity
awards” to the residents for highest attendance, earliest arriver, or best bingo player.   Give out “staff
awards” for the best craft leader, best bingo caller and the like.    Like the theme for this year says,
make the week full of “heartfelt memories”.


     
About Debbie

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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