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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TEAM : Together Everyone Accomplishes More
by Debbie Hommel, ACC/MC/EDU, CTRS

Together Everyone Accomplishes More is a familiar acronym for TEAM.  As cliché as it
sounds, it holds much truth.  My previous two articles for the Activity Director’s Office
have focused on the health care team within the care community.  Getting
administration to support the notion of interdisciplinary care, defining key roles for care
team members and specific tasks for the nursing department has been discussed.  
This article will focus on opportunities for interdisciplinary involvement amongst the
remainder of the staff – including housekeeping, dietary, maintenance and non-clinical

Before suggesting ways to involve the workers in these departments, the activity
professional must come to an agreement with the department managers of these
departments.  There are some managers who would chastise the staff if they were
observed chatting with the residents and “not doing their job”.  The first article of this
series suggested defining interdisciplinary involvement as well as establishing
parameters for staff participation with department managers.  Once terms of
involvement are agreed upon, the direct care staff in these departments can be
encouraged to participate in the following quality of life approaches:

*The chef or facility cook can conduct a Cooking Demonstration.   Many chefs enjoy the
art of cooking and demonstrating their skill in an activity.  Seasonal foods, making
desserts, specialty items or snacks for an activity are suggested items for the facility
chef to prepare for a resident audience.

*The maintenance man (assuming it is a man) can lead a men’s group.  Even if it is
just sitting “with the guys” and having coffee late in the afternoon to “shoot the breeze”,
the male residents often enjoy the company of a working man.

*The housekeeping staff are in every resident’s room daily.  They can participate in 1-1
interaction and monitor the use of in room materials.  The housekeeping person can
ensure the right music, radio or television station is turned on.  Posted “Life Story
Boards” in resident rooms would communicate interesting information about the
resident’s life to anyone who happens to be in their room.  Preferences, in terms of
leisure interests, life pursuits, music, television and other recreational interests can be
noted in the “Life Story”.  The housekeeping staff as well as nursing assistants can use
this information to guide conversation during time spent in the resident’s room.

*Many staff have talents and interests which can be channeled into group leadership.  
In my travels, I have seen the administrator entertain the residents with his accordion; a
nursing assistant lead a bible study group; a dietary worker share videos of her trip to
France and the bookkeeper act as the bartender during the weekly happy hour
program.   Staff interests can be found through simply knowing the staff as people or
through a more formal survey.  Success is assured when the administrator and nurse
managers are supportive of the program and allow staff to integrate these programs
into their work day.

*Offer opportunities for individual relationships to develop through specific program
models such as the Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care, developed by Virginia
Bell and David Troxel.    This program, amongst other model programs, focus on
changing the culture of caring - for all staff.   Anyone who agrees to work in the care
community, regardless of department responsibility, has potential to provide the
resident with emotional support, positive interactions and meaningful connections.

*Create a summer volunteer program for employee children.  Structured parameters for
the program should be established including defining the maximum number of children
volunteering at a given time, minimum age for the volunteer, very specific jobs defined
for each volunteer and a limited amount of volunteer time for each volunteer.   An
unstructured program quickly turns into a summer babysitting service for staff which
creates more problems than not.  

*Introduce interdisciplinary programs such as a Talent Show, Gong Show or Facility Idol
Contest.   There has been many a talent show where staff and residents alike were
surprised by someone’s secret musical talent.  International Days, where staff dress in
cultural garb and bring in foods from their country are very successful.  It is an
opportunity for the residents and staff to learn about various cultures as well as a
chance for staff to show pride in their heritage.  Facility decorating contests, holiday
scavenger hunts, secret pal programs all contribute to holiday fun and festivities.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct
individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows
common people to attain uncommon results."
--Andrew Carnegie