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

Mission Impossible?  Not for the Activity Professional!
By Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

At the beginning of the old television series Mission Impossible, the show often began with an
elaborate intro which included the statement “your mission, if you wish to accept it…”  Each
“mission” defined the content of the show and guided the main characters in their purpose for
that particular episode.  Today, most health care organizations have a mission statement.  The
mission statement should define the purpose of the organization or its reason for being.  As
opposed to the Vision Statement which projects forward and defines a future state of the
organization, the Mission Statement defines why the organization exists.   Each health care
professional should be made aware of the organization’s mission when they apply for their paid
position.  When they accept the job, technically they are choosing to accept the mission or
purpose of the organization.  

If discussion of the organization’s mission or purpose were a part of the interview process,
each employee would begin with a basic understanding of what the organization is all about.  
Many applicants, when applying for entry level positions, do not have a clear understanding of
the extent of care and purpose within long term care services.   They are simply “looking for a
job”.  However, each person who works in the long term care continuum should be educated
as to why we do what we do.  Everyone, including housekeeping, dietary, administrative staff
and the direct care workers of nursing, activities and social services, should understand the
purpose of the organization.  We have all heard the stories of individuals who applied at a
health care setting because they just “needed a job” and eventually worked their way into a
leadership position.  These individuals became aware of the mission of the organization and
sought ways to become more involved through further training and education.  

Having a departmental Mission statement further defines the work of each department.  Even
though the overall organization may have a general Mission Statement, it is good practice to
further define the work of each department.  This applies to the therapeutic activity
profession.  As suggested in last month’s article, it would be good practice to have the
Therapeutic Activity department Mission Statement framed and posted in the office...  
The Grantmanship Center website offers suggestions as to how to create a winning Mission
Statement.  They suggest answering three questions:
1.        What are the needs that we exist to address?  (purpose of the organization)
2.        What are we doing to address these needs?  (business of the organization)
3.        What are the beliefs that guide our work? (Values of the organization).

If we were to use these questions in creating a Mission Statement for the therapeutic activity
department, it may sound something like this…

Purpose:  To involve our elders in individualized activity/recreation programs to enhance their
quality of life.
Business:  To provide long term care in a community setting for elders who cannot live
Values:   Living life to the fullest is the undeniable right of all individuals, regardless of age.

Putting it all together might sound like the following:
It is the mission of the therapeutic activity department to involve our elders in individualized
programs which will meet their needs, interests and abilities within a supportive long term care
community.  The program will be designed to ensure that each elder is able to live their life to
the fullest, regardless of physical or cognitive limitations or disabilities.         

My Strategic Plan, another web site, offers this alternate approach to creating a Mission
1.        What single word defines the focus of the organization?
2.        What are 2-3 words that define why the organization exists?
3.        Take those words and put them into a clear sentence that describes the organization.

Applying this to the therapeutic activity department, it may sound like the following…

Single word: Therapeutic
2-3 words: quality of life, individualized, elders
Sentence: It is the mission of the therapeutic activity program to offer individualized activity
programs to enhance the quality of life of our elders.         

If your department does not have departmental Mission Statement, creating one as a group is
suggested.  Over the course of a few days or weeks, post the questions for your staff to review
and consider.  Then put them together, as demonstrated in this article.   There are a number
of suggestions for the final Mission Statement which include:
-Keep it short so it can be utilized in hiring, training and guiding the department.
-Keep it free of “jargon” or non-specific terms.
-Focus on substance rather than saying how great the department is.         
-Keep it realistic and something within grasp of the employees.

The departmental Mission Statement should coordinate or lead into the departmental Vision
Statement.  As suggested in last month’s article, these documents provide the department with
direction.  If the department utilizes these documents in the training and guiding of staff, it
contributes to a more unified service and greater pride in the profession.  

So, as each new candidate is offered a position within the department, they will understand
from the beginning that the opening is more than “just a job” but a mission that each employee
is committed to fulfill.