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.
Let Debbie answer your
Activity Questions
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.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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The Activity Director's Office
All Rights Reserved

Professional Vision Statements:
What do you see for our Future?
By Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

In the childhood classic, Alice in Wonderland, we are familiar with Alice’s crazy adventures and
curious characters she meets.  In one scene, Alice meets the Cheshire Cat, whom she asks for
directions.  The Cheshire Cat responds by asking Alice where she wants to go.  Alice responds
with “I don’t much care where, as long as I go somewhere.”  With that, the Cheshire Cat replies
“Oh, you are sure to do that as long as you walk far enough.”   It is a common plight of working
activity professionals to be walking or working and wondering “when will I get there.”   It is the
nature of our business to plan and project.  As soon as one calendar is completed, we begin
work on the next; and with the introduction of one new program or protocol, soon after there is
a need for another.   Many activity professionals often feel like the proverbial “hamster on the

How can we remedy this atmosphere of working on continuous, never ending job tasks while
feeling we are never within reach of our goals?   How can we, as a department, collectively join
forces to not only achieve the daily requirements of our job but to move forward as a
department and a profession?  One action step the activity department can adopt is to
establish departmental vision, mission and philosophy statements.  You may be thinking how
would creating “policy” oriented materials help you or your department manage their time
better or get all departmental jobs done?   As the Cheshire Cat told Alice, if you don’t know
where you are going – you will get there eventually.  Without clear-cut departmental goals, the
activity professional and department often gets pulled into helping other department achieve
their goals and objectives.  With clearly a defined departmental vision, it can unify the activity
department and provide direction to the team.   When the departmental vision, mission and
philosophy statements are approved by administration, all departmental decisions and
responsibilities should focus on meeting this vision.   The vision, mission and philosophy
statements should be introduced to new activity staff members, as they join the department
because it will immediately communicate to them the significance of our work and the value
that therapeutic activities can provide.   It is good practice to have the departmental vision,
mission and philosophy statements printed on decorative paper and framed in the activity
office where all staff, families and residents can see the department’s commitment to state of
the art programming and care.

Although it may seem like it is “splitting hairs”, there is a difference between a vision, mission
and philosophy statement.  It is a common misconception that they are one and the same but
they each have a different intent.   The vision statement projects to the future, defining a
future state of the organization or department.  Visionary thinking is difficult to master as it is
seeing things as they could be, not as the currently are.   Visionary thinking is “out of the box”
thinking and some people may call the vision statement unrealistic or unattainable.  Belva
Davis once said “Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality.  If you can
dream it, you can make it so.”  Or, we are reminded by the movie “Field of Dreams” where the
common theme was “If you build it, they will come.”  

The same thinking needs to apply to our department, our programs and our profession.  
Where do we want to be?  Where are we going to take ourselves?  What are the possibilities?  
Or, are we going to allow ourselves and our profession to be led to a future that other
professions think we should have?  To begin the journey to a future of our own creation, each
activity department should create a departmental vision statement.  We can build on
information that is already established such as the NAAP Standards of Practice, Scope of
Practice Statement and Definition of Activity Services.  However, each activity department
should be founded on and guided by departmental vision, mission and philosophy statements.

How can you create such statements for your department, if one does not exist or you feel the
current one needs revision?  Personally, I think it should be a group effort where your activity
department has input.  It is something that may take several weeks to create.  Sample ideas
could be posted and reviewed by the department over a period of time.  Bringing the topic up
for discussion at your local or state activity professional association meeting may generate
new ideas and insight. Some of the web sites listed below have step by step suggestions as to
how to create such a statement.  Additionally, follow these helpful hints in creating a vision
statement for your department:
  • Think of a mental image of a future desirable state within your department.
  • Think of an attractive future, one that is better than the one that now exists.
  • The statement should include inspirational, energizing and motivating ideas and
  • Don’t let negative thinking or current limitations get in your way of thinking for the future.

Some visionary ideas for the activity department might include:
  • All staff will respect and understand the need for, while promoting resident involvement
    in therapeutic activities.
  • All staff will work cooperatively and interactively with the activity department in engaging
    residents in the daily life of the home.
  • Every resident will find some sort of fulfillment through appropriate involvement in
    individualized therapeutic activity programming.
  • Every facility will have ample supplies, materials and space to address the recreational
    and activity needs of the residents.

These are neither grandiose nor unrealistic suggestions, and they are achievable. We can
agree we are already achieving some of these ideas, some of the time, but most of us would
agree – we have a long way to go to make these practices embedded into our daily
organizational structures.   These ideas will only be achievable if they are articulated and
communicated routinely.  A suitable vision statement to communicate these ideas might be:
“There will be a universal understanding and appreciation amongst all staff, families, and
residents that elder involvement in therapeutic activities is essential to positive quality of life.”

Picture having this statement or a similar one created by your department, printed nicely and
framed in your office.  If only one third of the people who came into your office read the Vision
statement, I am sure some of them would take notice and comment.  This would be your
opportunity to communicate the value of our work and how it impacts upon quality of life.  You
would be achieving your vision statement by educating others and creating the understanding
and respect we are working toward.  

In next month’s issue, the topic of departmental Mission and Philosophy statements will be

  • Writing a Compelling Vision Statement
  • What’s in a Vision Statement
  • Writing a Vision Statement That Works
  • How to Write a Vision Statement