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
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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.
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Knowledge + Power = Activity Professional
By Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

As a paid profession, the world of therapeutic activities is a new one, having been in
existence only thirty four years.  The term “activities” was introduced in the 1974 federal
regulations for nursing homes which officially introduced our service.  Our professional
status was strengthened by the development of the
National Association of Activity
Professionals
in 1981, followed by the development of the national activity certification
program through the
National Certification Council for Activity Professionals in 1986.  
Our current job title, Activity Professional, was coined in 1992 when revisions to the
federal regulations adopted the title.  Having just celebrated my thirtieth year as an
activity professional, I am proud to see how far we have come as “professionals”.  
However, the truth remains we are still working to earn respect for our programs and
the positive outcomes evident in our approaches.  Although we have grown
tremendously as a profession, we still have a long way to go.

What can you do to ensure our continued growth as a profession and to work toward
gaining respect for the work that we do?   The first step is to get certified.  National
Certification through the
National Certification Council of Activity Professionals is the
only certification program which certifies individuals providing therapeutic activities for
elders in long term care settings. The certification is recognized in the Federal
regulations for nursing homes as a qualifying credential, as well as in many State
regulations.  If you are not currently certified, develop an education plan to help you in
achieving certification.  If you have not yet taken the MEPAP (Modular Education Program
for Activity Professionals) course,
find a local instructor and information about their
course schedules.   If such programs are not available in your area – the internet has
become the new educational meeting place.

Once you are certified and have taken the basic and standard coursework for the activity
professional – you need to maintain your certification and professional status.  Many
activity professionals share difficulty getting out to classes and seminars.  Independent
study courses are becoming a popular choice for the busy activity professional as the
work can be done around a busy schedule.  To maintain your national certification,
individuals must attend 2-4 (10-20 contact hours) classes per year.  
My website offers
independent study programs
, approved by the National Certification Council for Activity
Professionals.  Current topics include professional development, motivation,
programming concepts, quality assurance and documentation.  New programs are
added monthly.  

The National Certification Council for Activity Professionals offers an opportunity for
experienced activity professionals who may have taken a course prior to the introduction
of the MEPAP to become certified.  
Track 5 requirements include completion of a basic
course between 36 and 90 hours between the years 1991 and 2001; six years
experience (12,000 hours) in activities in a geriatric setting within the past ten years;
and thirty hours of continuing education within past five years,
six of which is focused on
activity documentation.

Is certification the only answer to professional growth of the individual and our
profession as a whole?  Obtaining national certification is just the beginning and will
provide the activity professional with a foundation of knowledge and understanding to
continue moving our profession forward.   We each need to become the expert on
therapeutic activities and person centered care in our communities.  This does not
mean become a “know-it-all” but someone who is knowledgeable about the
interventions, outcomes and current status of our profession.   Knowledge and power
are best intermingled.    Sir Francis Bacon said it first in the 1600’s – “Knowledge is
Power”.    Being knowledgeable and sharing that knowledge in a positive, productive
way is influential.  Power is the ability to influence others to act.    

Another way to contribute to the strength of our profession is to join the activity
professional associations in your local area as well as state and national
associations.   They have conventions, seminars, newsletters and web sites to support
the activity professional.  Nationally, they represent the activity professional in legislative
matters and keep us informed of regulatory changes, survey processes and news.  
Locally, our State and regional groups allow active networking and communication
amongst working activity professionals.
I have a listing of National and State
associations on my website
.  If your state has a group that is not listed, feel free to send
me information and I will include it in the listing.

The activity profession will continue to grow and prosper if we nurture our never-ending
desire to seek out new ideas and to provide the best programs for our elders;
participate in continuing education whether you have been in the profession one year or
twenty; work cooperatively with fellow activity professionals and interdisciplinary staff;
and continuously commit to the values of our profession.