When I first became an activity director I was very overwhelmed. I was an activity assistant at the time and our director had left. I was asked to fill in as an intermin director. At that time I felt like a fish out of water. I didn’t know all of the protocols, rules and regulations of my facility. I was terrified, but I agreed to taking the position because I knew it was a step in the right direction. Even though I knew how to keep my residents happy and program planning was always a joy of mine, I was still terrified on how I was going to do in team meetings and covering my documentation properly.
Regardless of just wanting to learn more I knew it was a state requirement to be a certified activity director. I had searched online to find classes and finally was recommended to visit dhspecialservices.com. At first I began the independent study program which is very convientent for people who can’t take the time off of work to attend an in-class course. It was a great program, however I feel I learn better in person so decided to take her class in person- and very happy I did.
Debbie Hommel is the creator of DH Special Services and she isn’t just a Mepap instructor, she is an inspiration to this field. She is a mentor who not only teaches important guidelines in this field such as documentation and section f requirements, expectations and facility culture- she teaches her students how to feel. I have never had an instructor who used empathy as knowledge. We learned more about the diseases our residents were dealing with, how to communicate positively with our memory care residents and how to never lose our spark.
If it wasn’t for taking that Mepap course nearly nine years ago I may not have ever had the gumption to create my own business or grow on this field.
It is so important to have a good mentor. You can learn from their experience to help you solve problems within your own facility. Being as there is only one activity director in a building, it’s not like you have anyone you can go to for questions related to activity department requirements that are as well versed in the field. If you are interested in becoming an Activity Director definitely do you research and find the mentor that is right for you.
There were times I began burning out- I didn’t feel appreciated, I wasn’t looked upon as knowledgeable in my field “ I was just an activity director who had fun all day planning socials and bingo” in others eyes. I wanted to quit several times. And when I would have those moments I would think about everything Debbie has taught me. I couldn’t give up on myself. The whole reason I started this field was to be able to make people happy, to share my compassion with seniors and ensure they are having the time of their life. So every time I was feeling burnt out I would remember a saying she would always share in class, one of her favorite quotes by Maya Angelou:
“ At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Just remembering that quote gave me the strength to just take a deep breath and remember why I began working in this field.
Although I am not an Activity Director at a facility any longer, I get to share my knowledge with thousands of other activity professionals and visit new residents every week while visiting various facilities.
Finding a great mentor is the most important thing you can do in this field!! So find your Obi Wan Kenobi, your Anne Sullivan, someone who will make you the best that you can be!