Debbie Hommel's A.D. Tips
Dedicated to helping Activity Professionals with the daily operation of their department.
by Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, CRTS, Executive Director of DH Special Services
by Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

We established in last month’s article that person centered care means acknowledging
the elder as an individual.  Regardless of diagnosis, functional ability, or cognitive
status – the elder should be given consistent opportunities to continue to live their lives
as the individual they are.  We also established that the activity profession has long
embraced person centered care, even before it was called person centered care.    This
month’s article will explore the steps the activity professional can take to embed person
centered care into practice and specific programs which reflect person centered values.

Most activity settings require an activity assessment.  The content of the assessment
can contribute to the department’s ability to provide person centered care.  A thorough
assessment which truly examines the individual’s needs and strengths will allow the
activity department to develop programs that are meaningful and suited to the
individual.   An individualized and personalized interest inventory or collection of leisure
and recreational interests will contribute to the development person specific
programming as well.

Another component of person centered care is that it is not just the activity department’s
responsibility to adopt this way of thinking.  The facility, as a whole, needs to adopt this
model of care and work cooperatively to introduce opportunities for growth and
empowerment.  One way to achieve this is through interdisciplinary care planning.  The
activity professional has long established individualized and meaningful interventions
for the residents, based on their histories.  The care plan can be a means to
communicate such approaches to the team.  Once committed to the care plan and the
team is invited to support the interventions, person centered ideas can become part of
the culture of the facility.  

Person Centered Activities Characteristics

  • Activities that are meaningful:  What makes an activity meaningful?  Meaningful
    activities are those that relate to the interests and needs of the person.  It is
    difficult to engage a resident in a meaningful activity if one does not know who
    the resident is.  The assessment allows the activity professional to offer the right
    programs for each person.  Additionally, how the activity is presented gives it
    meaning.  Each activity has a purpose and intent which can increase the
    meaning of the involvement for the resident.  Rather than just involve a resident
    in an exercise group, more meaning can be promoted if the resident knows they
    are increasing circulation, increasing energy and improving their mood through
    involvement in the group.  Examples:  Interest clubs, gender specific clubs,
    reminiscent groups on topics from their generation, culture and region, specific
    activities from their past and spiritual activities.
  • Activities that reflect person’s lifestyle and interests:  Again, a good assessment
    will allow the activity professional to offer the right programs and use the
    appropriate skills to interest and engage the resident in the program.  
    Examples: Many of the same activities which were listed for meaningful
    programs apply here as well.  
  • Activities that are enjoyable:  In order to find joy in a program, the individual
    needs to feel some measure of success and a “return” on their participation.  If
    involved in a program that brings about stress or negative feelings, the
    individual has difficulty enjoying them.  The activity professional needs to be
    astute at tailoring the program so the resident can have success in a
    comfortable setting.  Examples: Adapted programs, adaptive equipment,
    socials, entertainment, programs where they can meet new friends or socialize
    in accepting environments and competitive experiences where they can “win”.
  • Activities that make the person feel useful:  The loss of purpose or the feeling
    that you are not needed anymore is one of the most devastating losses of any
    person, including our elderly population.  Many residents have lived long,
    productive lives.  Arriving at the point where they are told to “sit and relax” is
    depressing at best.  The activity department is very effective at introducing
    programs and individual roles for the residents to assume, which give them the
    sense of usefulness back.   Examples:  Jobs within the facility, volunteering in
    the center, helping roles at activities, assisting with tasks in the department,
    asking their opinion about programming and decisions within the facility, and
    Resident Council.
  • Activities that give a sense of belonging:  The activity community which includes
    a variety of 1-1 and group programs, opportunities for leisure and independent
    recreation as well as the relationships that are established through these
    programs creates a sense of belonging.  The activity staff works hard to foster
    the sense of connectedness we all long for.  Examples: Socials, discussion
    groups, club meetings, 1-1 visits, games, and most group activities can offer a
    sense of belonging. - END
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DEBBIE HOMMEL
Executive Director
DH Special Services
About Debbie

Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA,
ACC, CRTS, 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.
DEAR DEBBIE:
Let Debbie answer your
Activity Questions
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