Debbie Hommel's A.D. Tips
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by Debbie Hommel, BA, ACC, CTRS, Executive Director of DH Special Services
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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.
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for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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Gratitude is a Virtue
by Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Is the glass is half full or half empty?  Do you believe the sun will come out tomorrow?  
Whatever happens, good or bad, can you find the positive in things?  Even in your
darkest hour, can you find something to be thankful for?  Being thankful is an emotion
which has been directly related to positive feelings of wellness and improved quality of
life.   As we enter the season which emphasizes “thanksgiving” and gratitude, the
activity professional needs to understand that being thankful and the  Thanksgiving
holiday can go beyond the typical events of “turkey races”, Thanksgiving discussions
and making turkey crafts.  

Many people can relate to the feeling of gratefulness as we have all been given
something or assisted at one time or another.  Pure gratitude is felt when the
assistance provided is valuable to the one receiving it and it is given without any strings
attached.  It is not gratitude when the one receiving assistance feels they will “owe”
something in return for the helping gesture.  It is also hard to feel gratitude when the
assistance provided was viewed as not needed or desired by the individual receiving
it.     Being helpful and receiving help is a lot more complicated than it looks, as it often
involves personal agendas and unspoken expectations.  

Since the year 2000, there have been many psychological studies on the emotion of
gratitude and its impact upon an individual’s wellbeing and psycho-social outlook.    
The studies have indicated the following points:
- Grateful people are happier, less depressed and more satisfied with their personal
-Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the stresses in their lives.
-Grateful people sleep better.  
-Grateful people cope better with life transition.

A number of Appreciation Scales have been developed which identify specific areas in
life an individual can feel gratitude.   These areas of appreciation include people,
possessions, the present moment, and rituals.  The activity professional can introduce
ways to review these areas of gratitude through discussion, programming, familiar
events and other activities which stimulate review of “life’s blessings”.  
Here are some suggestions to generate positive thoughts on gratitude with our
-Write a “gratitude letter” to someone whom they are thankful to – a family member, a
neighbor, or a staff member.  The resident could then present the letter to the individual
at a social or special event.
-Keep a “gratitude journal or diary” where the resident would identify three things daily
that they are grateful for.   Identifying daily blessings, committing them to paper and then
discussing them at a social event remind the individual of the good things in life.
-Create a “Blessings Collage” where pictures (from magazines, the Internet and other
sources) representing the individual’s areas of appreciation are organized onto a
collage.   The collage can be framed and hung in the resident’s room.  
-Start the morning program with a moment devoted to discussion of blessings.  
Discussing specific actions or thoughts, no matter how small, reminds everyone to be
-Introduce a class which outlines the benefits of positive thinking and feeling gratitude.  
Share information from the various psychological studies which define the physical and
psychological benefits of gratitude.  
-If you have a white board in your activity room or somewhere visible – use it to post a
positive thought of the day.  Encourage discussion amongst the residents as well as
staff about the saying and how it relates to them and their lives.  
-Give the residents “thank you” coupons for them to distribute throughout the day.  Invite
everyone who received a thank you coupon to an afternoon party and distribute prizes to
those who received the most coupons.  
-Introduce opportunities for the residents to be helpful to others.  They need to
experience the joy and personal satisfaction of being appreciated as well.   Fund
raising, food drives, and helping in various ways around the home are some ways they
can be of assistance.    
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”  
~Cynthia Ozick