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

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
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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DEAR DEBBIE:
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I am a Certified Activity Professional
by Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Even after 32 years in the “activity business”, I find people still have difficulty
understanding what we do.  I have been teaching the MEPAP class since its inception
as well as the 36 hour activity class prior to that, so I have no problem explaining the
value of what we do and why to future activity professionals of America.  It is the
understanding of people outside the realm of long term care that remains the
challenge.  When someone says “I’m a teacher” or “I’m a nurse”, there is immediate
understanding of the scope and purpose of that job.  When discussing future
occupations with children – does one ever hear them say “I want to grow up and help
elderly people in a nursing home have fun”?  

Recognition of the activity profession as a respected career was a topic of discussion at
the recent “Call to Action” meeting, sponsored by the National Certification Council of
Activity Professionals in Raleigh, NC.  Approximately 88 activity professionals,
representing 23 states, met to discuss gaining recognition and respect for the activity
professional as well as other pressing issues facing the profession.  

Rather than commiserate about problems, the majority of the day was spent
brainstorming ideas for the future growth of our profession.  Over fifty ideas for gaining
recognition and respect for the activity profession were identified.  (The full report of the
Call to Action meeting is being sent to all NCCAP certified individuals).    

As many already know, National Activity Professional’s Week is in January.  This week
is the perfect opportunity for our profession to communicate the value of what we do to
fellow employees, family members, residents and community at large.  However, once
our special week passes, we must continue to “talk the talk: while providing quality of
life opportunities for our residents.
     
Here are some thoughts related to gaining respect, as stimulated by the Call to Action
Meeting discussions:

      -Educate yourself and provide educational opportunities for your department.  
Frances Bacon knew what he was talking about when he said “Knowledge is power”.  
The more we know about our jobs, our residents, our facilities, the business of long
term care, the regulations, and future trends – the stronger we will be as a professional.
      -Become NCCAP Certified.  NCCAP certification is recognized by the Federal
Government and is included in many state regulations.  For 25 years, NCCAP
certification has been the standard to meet.  NCCAP is an impartial certifying agency
which provides the certified activity professional with an endorsement of professional
knowledge and experience.  NCCAP is an advocacy organization as well.  NCCAP
works with state and national associations, as well as state and federal regulatory
agencies to promote the activity profession and the importance of having a
qualified/certified activity professional provide the service.
      -Be a professional in appearance, through your actions, behaviors and
communication skills.  Being appointed a title does not make you a professional.    A
professional is someone who has training, expertise, competence and confidence in
their vocation.   The activity professional is molded and evolves through work
experience in the field and attendance at workshops and training specific to the
profession - specifically the MEPAP course.  
      -Be an advocate for the profession.  Participate in career fairs, volunteer to speak at
local school career days, and take the time to explain what you “do for living” to those
that don’t understand our work.  
      -Become active in professional groups.  Seek out other activity professionals to
network and share resources.  Assume an active role in the management and
promotion of your organization.  We can take advice from our great country – the United
States of America and heed “E pluribus Unum” which means “out of many, comes
one”.  As a profession, we must join our voices together to be heard.
The next time someone asks “what do you do?, confidently say “I am an NCCAP
certified activity professional and let me tell you about my profession….”   For
information about NCCAP certification, visit
www.nccap.org or you may e-mail
debbiehommel@comcast.net and I will assist you in defining your certification plan.  If
you would like a copy of the Call to Action Meeting summary, e-mail me as well and I
can forward it to you.
Happy Activity Professionals Week!