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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The Activity Profession : Soaring to New Heights
by Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

I visited a nursing home for the first time when I was a high school senior in
1973.  I had answered a newspaper ad to be a “friendly volunteer visitor”.  
As I visited with my assigned resident and her peers, I quickly thought this
might be a career path to explore.   Before I left for college that summer, I
asked the Social Director (that is what she was called) what kind of training
or schooling I would need to do her job.  She laughed and asked “Why in
the world would you want this job? Besides that Sweetie – anyone could do
this job!”

Wouldn’t that Social Director be surprised to see how far we have come?  
Little did she know that in thirty six years, very specific and detailed
regulations would be introduced to define the requirements and role of the
activity professional.  Little did she know that the National Association of
Activity Professionals would represent the activity professional through thick
and thin; and champion for our profession through legislative issues and
stronger regulations within a growing health care system.  Little did she
know that there would be a credentialing agency called the National
Certification Council of Activity Professionals with well over 6,700 certified
members?  Little did she know that quality of life and an emphasis to remain
engaged in living would become as important as the medical aspect of care?

Thirty six years may seem like a long time to some.  However, in the
lifespan of professions – it is not very long at all.   To reflect upon how
much has been achieved in this short period of time is awe inspiring.  
However, I am reminded of the Carpenter’s song (dating from my youth in
the 70’s) – “We Have Only Just Begun”.   This year’s National Activity
Professional Week’s slogan – “Soaring to New Heights” - epitomizes this
mindset.   With increased emphasis on quality of life, this is our time to step
up and lead long term care to a new level.  

NAPW is the perfect time to share information about the value and purpose
of therapeutic activities.  There are many resources available to the activity
department which can be used during this week.  The National Association
for Activity Professionals has a page on their web site devoted to the week,
with many ideas as well as supportive handouts, forms and promotional
materials.    Kim Grandal, of Recreative Resources, has created a video on
You Tube which can be used to motivate, promote and educate individuals
about the activity profession. There are additional ideas and resources on
my site.

This is an exciting time for the career activity professional.  Regulations
have solidified our role as key players in enhancing quality of life.  Person
centered care, which is a concept long embraced by the activity
professional, is becoming an interdisciplinary motto.   The number of
certified activity professionals through the National Certification Council of
Activity Professionals has increased from 6200 to 6700 over the past two
years.  This month,  NCCAP is introducing specialization certifications to
add to the standard certifications currently in place.  Now, in addition to
being Activity Consultant Certified, Activity Director Certified or Activity
Assistant Certified, individuals can apply for and obtain specialty
certifications in the areas of Assisted Living, Memory Care, Adult Day and
Educator.   This additional training and credentialing will reinforce our role
as respected professionals in long term care.  

So, where do we go next?  What are the possibilities? I would like to see
college curriculums introduce therapeutic activities for geriatrics as a major,
not just integrate our profession into a gerontology or recreation program.  I
would like to see high schools introduce coursework focusing on
understanding the elderly population and related career paths.   I would like
to see the number of NCCAP certified activity professionals reach 10,000. I
would like to see regulations require that all activity staff, not just the
director, be certified.   I would like to see ten hours of activity in-service
training per year mandated for all interdisciplinary staff in all long term care
facilities.  I would like to see neighborhoods replace units.   I would like to
see every elder in our long term care facilities receive the individualized
attention they deserve.  

Some of you may be chuckling at these ideas or even laughing out loud
(like that Social Director who laughed at me in 1973).  Little do we know
where we can go.  It’s up to us.

“Be the Change you want to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi