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

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To Have a Departmental Philosophy Statement or Not to Have
- That is the Question
By Debbie Hommel, ACC, CTRS

Many activity/recreation departments have a philosophy statement in their policy and
procedure book.  Most activity/recreation departments either don’t utilize their philosophy
statement as it could be used or don’t even realize such a statement is available in the book.  
What is the point of a departmental philosophy statement?  Why would an activity or recreation
department need such a statement?

To truly understand a philosophy statement, we should examine what philosophy is.  My
daughter is currently taking “Intro to Philosophy” in her first year of college and I frequently
hear how bored she is in class.   Many people equate philosophy with boring (and useless, as
my daughter says).  The word philosophy is a combination of two Greek words: philo (love)
and sophia (wisdom) which combines into “love of wisdom”.  Establishing a work or personal
philosophy could also be viewed as a “quest for truth”.  Creating a philosophy statement for
the activity/recreation department would serve as a formal statement as to what the
department believes to be true.   Departmental philosophy statements often include beliefs
and standards associated with the service, as well as values and principles supporting the
purpose of the service.  

The philosophy statement should support the ideas and views of the facility mission and vision
statements, discussed in previous ADO articles.  The departmental philosophy statements
begin to define how those visions will be attained through the particular service.   In order to
create your own departmental philosophy statement, you might begin by answering the
following questions:

Why do we do what we do?
  • To offer opportunities for improved quality of life
  • To increase physical, cognitive, emotional, social functioning
  • To offer diversion, peace, comfort and solace
  • To reduce the negative impact of a loss or disability

Who do you do what you do with?
  • Physically frail elderly
  • Individuals with cognitive loss
  • Individuals at the end of life
  • Individuals with physical injury/illness seeking rehabilitative services
  • The family members of the individuals served

How do you do what you do?
  • By assessing each individual physically, cognitively and emotionally
  • By conducting a thorough leisure inventory
  • Through the formal therapeutic process of assessment, care planning, implementation
    and evaluation

What do you do?
  • Provide a diverse and varied organized recreation and leisure program
  • Provide individualized group and 1-1 activities
  • Provide materials and supplies which enhance function        
  • Create environments conducive to independence
  • To assist in the development of new skills or interests
  • Provide connections with the community, both inside and outside of the facility

Where do you do it?
  • Long term care settings
  • Community based settings

The answers to these questions may vary, depending on the department’s focus, level of care
and belief of the center.  For example, the philosophy of a short term care unit may focus on
improving physical function, community re-integration and skill building activities.  Whereas the
philosophy of a memory support unit would focus on valuing the person with dementia and
creating a social environment which would allow the person with dementia to enjoy life to the

If the activity/recreation department creates a philosophy statement that truly represents what
the department is all about, how can the department manager use the statement as it should
be used?  As suggested in previous ADO articles, the philosophy statement should be printed
and framed nicely in the activity/recreation office.  It will be a constant reminder to staff,
families and anyone who visits the activity/recreation office, of what drives the department.  
Secondly, sharing the philosophy statement with departmental staff during their initial
orientation will provide them with a concrete guide as to why they do what they do.  If
departmental staff understand the philosophy statement and embody the meaning of the
words in their day to day tasks, they will be able to make better therapeutic decisions
regarding care and treatment of those served.  If the staff believes in what they do, inevitably
the residents in their care will receive the best care possible.