Dedicated to helping Activity Professionals with the daily operation of their department.
by Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, Executive Director of DH Special Services.
Let Debbie answer your
Activity Questions
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.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

Copyright 2004-Present
The Activity Director's Office
All Rights Reserved

The Basics of Writing Therapeutic Goals
By Debbie Hommel, ACC

Being able to write resident/client oriented goals is a necessary skill for activity professionals.
As a member of the interdisciplinary team, we often support primary interdisciplinary issues
by adding interventions.   However, we may also initiate new concerns and problems, which
would require us to offer individualized, outcome oriented and resident centered goals for
the resident/client care plan.   

In our first goal writing lessons, we learn that goals need to be measurable and specific.  A
common mistake is to use activity attendance as the measure.    “Resident will increase
socialization by attending three social groups per week” is a goal that may be measurable
but it does not focus on a specific outcome.   The resident could be attending three groups
per week but they could be dozing, sitting off to the side of the program and not interacting
with peers.  The attendance at group does not provide a suitable outcome measure for
increased socialization.  To introduce a measurable outcome, the activity professional should
focus on behaviors, reactions, responses or tasks completed within an activity.   The activity
attendance should be a means to change a behavior or provoke a response rather than be
the ultimate goal.  Rather than “resident will increase socialization by attending three groups
per week”, an outcome oriented goal would be “resident will demonstrate social skill by
greeting peers at the start of three groups per week” or “resident will demonstrate social
skills by sharing opinion during reminiscent or discussion group once per week”.  

Another goal writing lesson we learn is that the goals need to be realistic.    The activity
professional is sometimes pressured by the team to promote certain behaviors or
participation in activities.  “You need to get them out of their room and get them into
activities”, we sometimes hear from the care plan team or from the families.  We need to rely
on our assessment skills to define an appropriate and individualized goal for the
residents/client.  If an individual resident/client had never attended or participated in many
groups or was not a “joiner”, the chances of them becoming one at this stage of life is
minimal.  That is not to say we shouldn’t try to engage them in our programs, however each
resident deserves a program (whether it be a 1-1 or group) based on their needs.  If the
individual prefers a 1-1 or individual program, the resident care plan should reflect that

Finally, the goals we establish should be resident/client centered.  We hear that term a lot,
especially with the revised guidance for nursing homes.    But, is this a new idea? Is this
something that was born out of new regulations?   Person centered therapy was first defined
by Carl Rogers, an American psychologist.  In the 1960’s, Carl Rogers wrote that “the client
knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have
been buried".  He helped people in taking responsibility for themselves and their lives. He
believed that the experience of being understood and valued, gives one the freedom to
grow.  So what does this mean to us as we write care plan goals?  It means we need to
involve the resident/client in the goal development process as much as possible.   As
caregivers, we sometimes assume the role of “expert” and believe we know what is best for
the patient. Even though the resident/client is invited to the care plan meeting, the care plan
is often already completed and the meeting is simply a means to inform the resident of what
services will be provided.   Goals are often created with little input from the resident/client.  
To truly embrace resident/client centered care planning, the resident/client, whenever
possible, should be involved in discussing potential goals.  What the resident wants may be
different than what the team member or therapist thinks they need.  That input should be

There are a number of books on care planning available to the activity professional.  Books
are helpful but the activity professional should not rely solely on the goals listed in the
books.  The activity professional should strive to become competent in goal writing in order
to be able to develop truly individualized and resident/client centered goals.

Care Planning Books for Activity Professionals

The Care Planning Cookbook by Recreation Therapy Consultants

The New Care Plan Answer Book for Activity, Psychosocial and Social Workers by
Greenwald and Davis

Activity Care Plans for Long Term Care Facilities by Sander