Re-Creative Resources
By Kimberly Grandal, BA, CTRS, ACC, Executive Director
Kimberly Grandal,

Kimberly Grandal, Founder
and Executive Director of Re-
Creative Resources, Inc., is a
strong advocate for the field
of Therapeutic Recreation
and Activities, with over fifteen
years of experience working
with the elderly in numerous
management and consultant
positions.  She is an Activity
Consultant Certified and a
Certified Therapeutic
Recreation Specialist. Kim is
a member of the New Jersey
Activity Professionals
Association and the New
Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania
Therapeutic Recreation

In 1990, Kim graduated from
William Paterson University
with a BA in Sociology and
later studied gerontology
courses at Union County
College and Therapeutic
Recreation courses at Kean
University. Throughout her
career, Kim has been the
Director of Therapeutic
Recreation for several long-
term care facilities, including
one of NJ’s largest.

In 2006, Kim founded Re-
Creative Resources Inc. She
is a speaker for various state
and local activity associations
such as NJAPA, MOCAP, and
NJACA, as well as the Society
of Licensed Nursing Home
Administrators of NJ. She
also offers lectures for Re-
Creative Resources Inc.,
local colleges, and
community groups, and
provides consultation and
support to numerous
facilities in the state.

Kim is the editor and writer
for the “The Rec-Room", a
monthly newsletter published
by her company. In addition,
she writes monthly articles
for the Activity Directors Office
newsletter, and has
contributed articles to
Creative Forecasting
Magazine, and The
Continuing Care Insite

Kim is a recipient of the
Kessler Institute of
Rehabilitation 1997 Triumph
of the Human Spirit Award.  
Her passion is to promote
the field of Therapeutic
Recreation and Activities and
to unite Recreation
Therapists and Activity
Professionals. Kim currently
serves on the NJAPA board
as the Chairperson for the
Legislation Committee.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

Copyright 2004-Present
The Activity Director's Office
All Rights Reserved

Resources Inc.

Re-Creative Resources, Inc.
is committed to enhancing
the lives of long-term care
residents through the use of
Therapeutic Recreation. We
provide a variety of services
such as Therapeutic
Recreation seminars,
in-services, resources, form
development, program
analysis and development,
consultation, and support for
activity professionals and
recreational therapists. A
selection of downloadable
training materials and forms
are available for your
convenience as well as a free
job posting site.
Gaining Professional Respect
By Kimberly Grandal, BA, CTRS, ACC
Executive Director, Re-Creative Resources Inc

Throughout my 15 year career in the field of therapeutic recreation and activities in long-term
care, I have encountered many obstacles, one of which has been the challenge of gaining
professional respect for the field and the role of recreation and activity professionals.  As a
former recreation assistant, director, and even at times, as a consultant, there continues to be a
need to demonstrate my professional abilities and value.  At many seminars, conferences,
networking opportunities, and in numerous emails, other therapeutic recreation and activity
professionals have expressed this concern and frustration as well.

Years ago I worked in a facility in which a VIP told me that he did not see the full value of
recreation within the healthcare system. Needless to say, I was stunned by such an abrupt
comment. I thought perhaps this bold statement was made to motivate me to revamp the
therapeutic recreation department that I was just hired to manage.  So, I accepted the challenge.
Several years later, this same VIP approached me and said, “Now I understand the value of
therapeutic recreation. You are great at what you do.”  Not only did I change the opinion of one
VIP, but many throughout the entire corporation, and within the facility itself.  How did I do it? In
this article I share with you my secrets to success and gaining the professional respect we desire
and deserve.

Respect others
It sounds so simplistic, but if we want to be treated with respect, we first must treat others with
respect. Get to know the role of the department heads, and other facility staff. It is important to
be aware of the responsibilities of the other healthcare workers so that we can better understand
their challenges, goals, qualifications, and so on. We must follow the chain of command, not step
on others toes, and speak to others in a respectful manner. There are times we must advocate
for the residents and for ourselves, but there is always a time and a place.  Choose your battles
wisely, and confront others calmly, have all the facts, and be willing to listen to all sides.

Portray a professional image
Speak, write, act, and dress professionally. Recreation and activity professionals have been
branded the “party people”, “bingo callers”, “Miss Mary sunshine” and so on. With these
stereotypes it is often easy to lose our professional footing. Although it is our role to be “the fun
people”, we still have to portray a professional image. Dress comfortably, but professionally.
Keep in mind the appearance and portrayal of the entire department, not just the director. It is
really hard to respect someone who wears baggy jeans, sweatshirts and t-shirts to work every
day! Every time we interact with facility staff, management, etc. we have an opportunity to portray
a professional image. Meetings are a prime time to dazzle others. Present a professional and
impressive report at the quarterly QA meeting; utilize clinical dialogue during an IDCP meeting;
discuss happenings and successes during the monthly department head meeting, and keep
everyone informed during the daily morning meeting. Ensure that all memos, reports and other
correspondences are checked for correct grammar and spelling as well.

Become certified
Professional certification is so important not only for your own professional respect, but for the
entire profession. There are various certifications available these days, with ADC and CTRS
being the most prominent in our field. If you are already certified, consider another certification.
You can become certified in just about anything these days, such as validation therapy,
horticultural therapy, remotivation therapy, aroma therapy, laughter therapy and much more.
Secondary certifications only add to your value! Consider having other members of the
department become certified as well.

Join professional organizations
Being an active member of a therapeutic recreation or activity professional organization portrays
that you are involved, serious, and supportive of the profession. Whether local, state or national,
these organizations help keep you informed and provide networking and educational

Educate yourself
Knowledge is everything! The more you know, the more confidence you will have, the greater
your clinical skills and abilities will be, and in turn, you will have increased professional dialogue.
This is a sure fire way to gain respect from one co-worker at a time! Take a class on-line, attend
the MEPAP course, register for several on-line newsletters (read them!), subscribe to
professional magazines, read books, and so on. Use the information that you have learned
during conversations, report writing and meetings. Let co-workers and supervisors know that you
are taking a class or reading book. They will be impressed! In addition, inquiring minds want to
know, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can learn a great deal from asking questions at
IDCP meetings, and regular numerous Q and A sessions with supervisors and managers.

Educate others
Talk to anyone and everyone about the role of and the benefits of therapeutic recreation and
activities. Consider everyone a target to listen to your pitch. Co-workers, department heads,
supervisors, corporate VIP’s, family members, residents, volunteers, etc. may all benefit from
your knowledge and expertise. Remember to educate the recreation staff and facility staff as well.
Consider including the recreation department as part of the facility orientation program and
mandatory in-services for all staff. Get involved in the facility education day or a health fair.
Another great idea is to host a Recreation Fair, setting up a variety of booths with prizes, demos
and educational displays. Such booths may include: physical activities, creative activities,
sensory stimulation, cognitive games and so on. Whatever you do, incorporate hands-on
experiences and fun.

Promote the department
Although it can be very time consuming, continuous promotional strategies help in your quest for
respect. Activity calendars, newsletters, flyers, brochures, displays, bulletin boards, and photo
albums are just a few ways in which recreation directors can promote and advertise. Ensure that
all calendars, newsletters and other promotional displays are attractive and purposeful. Many
brochures, flyers, banners, etc. can easily be done by the recreation staff with appropriate
computer software, and equipment, however, it is often recommended that the large calendars
and newsletters be professionally printed. Department brochures or booklets are also a great
way to promote the department. Often times, recreation professionals have little input into how
the department is portrayed in marketing materials, so be sure to work closely with the marketing
or public relations department for newspaper opportunities, local cable TV, radio, the facility
brochure, facility DVD, website, etc.

Be a team player
With the revised F248 CMS guidance, there is great focus on an interdisciplinary approach to
quality of life. We all must learn to work together, often outside of the realm of our department.
Recreation departments are known to be fantastic team players and often times the dumping
ground, so remember to ensure that you are in fact being a team player, not merely doing
someone else’s job. Some great team player ideas include: special feeding programs, fall
prevention programs, assisting with public relations, working in conjunction with the therapy
department doing a wheelchair Olympics or walk-n-wheel-a-thon, health fairs, assisting with
snacks and hydration, and so on.

Have confidence/be proud
Many recreation professionals do not know how to define what they do or why they do it.  A
critical component to gaining respect of others is respecting oneself and being proud of the
recreation profession. Have confidence that the profession is worthy and an integral aspect of
healthcare and quality of life. Talk about the profession in a positive manner and don’t be afraid
to speak out.

In conclusion
The therapeutic recreation and activity profession has evolved tremendously over the years.
Standards, regulations, qualifications and expectations have become more stringent; however,
many recreation and activity professionals still feel they lack professional respect. By making
some changes within ourselves and our departments, we can gain the respect we are looking for,
one person at a time!

Copyright Kimberly Grandal, 2007.  All rights reserved.
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