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Guest Guest_Annie

The biggest problem we all speak of is that we are not taken seriously in our profession. We have gone from Activity Director to Activity Professional and that has not changes how we are treated or respected.

 

We do so much more than just activities, why does our title only reflect this? Maybe we as Activity Directors/Professional need to make a stand and come up with a name we all agree on that reflects what we do? What do you think?

 

Also, I am working on my State certification right now and am hoping to get in under the Grandfather clause. During our quartly Activity Director meetings; our president has been pushing the directors here to get State certified with no results. Out of the 30 directors that attend our meetings, only 5 are certified and I know of 5 of us that are working on gettting State certified by November.

 

That still leave 20 directors that only have their Basis training; and you know what, they are the one that complain the most about wages. For those of you who are getting by with just your Basis training and your 8 hours of CEU's, that is not enough anymore. This profession requires daily learning and research to improve your programs. State wil come in and say, you want the pay, go to school and earn it. Get your State Cerftication as soon as possible, before State makes it a requirement and then don't stop there, go on for your National Certification.

 

If this is the area you want to work, we all need to stick together and find a way to open everyones eyes. Start in your own center/home and make the best program you can. Let everyone see what you are doing is making a difference not only to your resident's but to your staff too. If your not happy, just like life, don't complain about it, do something about it.

 

I have only been in this business for 2 years. I found that I did not like how things were being handled or the programs that were being done. In one year I was moved up to Activities Director and I have more than doubled my resident partisipation. This is still not good enough for me, so I am working on doubling that as well. My results in partisipation all are due to continuing my education and looking for new ideas. Keep it fresh. I wish everyone well and I hope to hear your response to this topic.

 

From deep in the heart of Texas

 

Annie

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Hey Annie & All,

CMS in their webcast refers to us as Activity Therapists instead of Activity Directors/Professionals. This leaves one to ask What type of education will be required to do the required work we do.

With the new guidelines coming into effect it will require alot more of us now. A wave seems to be happening in our field and this is only the tip of the ice berg. As time goes by we are dealing with a different generation of folks & this will be come more noticeable every year.

Those not certified & choose to stay that way, I am afraid that they will be left behind. The pay will increase as the demands will on our profession too. Adminstrators will be looking at activities to see if they are pulling their weight, maybe not today but I'll bet they will be after their State Survey!

Folks what do you think about the new name?

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We are a therapy. I think it's great. I hope that it continues. With the new interpretations, state is really looking at pushing a social module instead of a pure medical module. It's going to take some time for administrators, DON's, ect., to get use to it. FOr many it's going to be a long time before the change occurs. If surveyors do their job, then facilities will have no other choice than to change.

 

I'm excited to see a change.

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I'm very disappointed in what we get paid as an Activity Director. I am a CTRS, by trade, worked in Psych. and Rehab. at a local hospital for thirteen years prior to this position I now have. It took me a long time to move up from there salary-wise--starting at a measly $8 an hour for a newly hired CTRS, back in '89. The thing that disappoints me is when they advertise for an Activity Director, they say they must be a CTRS, or eligible to sit for the exam. I truly don't think this area of professionals realize how much education we do have, and what it means to ask for a CTRS in their facility--it sure doesn't show in the salary. I took a huge pay cut when I accepted this job, but there's only two hospitals in our area (Rehab) and I left one, and there was no openings at the other, so I had no choice. I truly respect the position of an Activity Director we all do, in my opinion, the work of maybe two or three people--and get paid very little, and get little respect from the other departments. I can barely afford to live on what I make, and sometimes put in 50 or 60 hours a week, with no overtime, after almost twenty years of being in this business. This may sound vaguely familiar to you--ha! ha! It's very frustrating. I work very closely with the PT's and OT's in our building, and am trained to do almost all they do, as far as assisting with mobility and transfers, to working on overall cognitive functioning, but it sometimes goes unrecognized because we are Activity Directors--not therapists. All we can do is continue to develop good programs geared toward their overall well-being and interests and document a lot!! Also, educate yourself on anything and everything to expand your knowledge and skills. Hope someone has a good "paying" story to share.

Karen

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  • 2 years later...

I have an Associate Degree in Recreational Management-Therapeutic Option. I never took the 90 hour course for AD in In., so am not certified, but qualified by the state. We now have a Recreational Therapy Consultant, whom I love, and although we know about the F248 changes occurring before the other disciplines do (and therefore are not taken seriously, unless we have a fall/elopement risk/behavior problem and they call me to drop everything to do a 1:1).. Right now, I am called to do what is considered the most important-to be a department manager. That means to help pick up where others leave off because they're too busy-State's been in here all year and staff is leaving right and left. I repeatedly am given a new schedule of another important list of things to do (along with most of the other managers, though we are currently missing 3 of them), such as alarm checks and door checks, water temp checks, etc. Don't think anyone notices whether activities are happening, unless they have a behavior to push into the room. Money isn't my worse problem-it's the hours I have in my budget to work-so, I work about 1/3 of my time off the clock/at home. When my really terrific assistant left after 2 years, and I was trying to hire her replacement, my DO stated that I should only be making $10 an hour. When I was hired at this, I was given 11.25, and the one across town who started with that company started at $13; and she has 3 assistants, less beds. Am praying about whether my life as an Activity Director is meant to change somehow-maybe flipping burgers at McDonald's? Then I could volunteer here and actually accomplish what I have been trained and have the heart for! :P

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Hi Everyone,

 

I agree that Activity Therapists is accurate! I love all that was said about the mentality of being the change that you want to see in the world. I would like to continue my education and am interested in becoming nationally certified. I have my state cert. now.

 

It's very challenging to embody a change you are facing many barriers (like a working with other colleagues who do not thoroughly appreciate all that we are doing). I have a degree and am still working as my own assistant due to lack of staffing. When there is so much work to do that you always seem to be behind --thinking about how one person can lead the department, create policies and procedures, follow care plans, reassessments, new assessments, plan meaningful and fun programs etc etc etc and still be expected to lead patients almost continuously all day!

 

We can work to take it one day at a time.

 

Thanks everyone for the kind encouraging words, we surely need to pick up eachother's spirits and empower eachother. You guys are awesome.

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It's very challenging to embody a change you are facing many barriers (like a working with other colleagues who do not thoroughly appreciate all that we are doing). I have a degree and am still working as my own assistant due to lack of staffing. When there is so much work to do that you always seem to be behind --thinking about how one person can lead the department, create policies and procedures, follow care plans, reassessments, new assessments, plan meaningful and fun programs etc etc etc and still be expected to lead patients almost continuously all day!

 

I've been in the nursing home business for 30 years and an activity director for 25 years, all at the same facility. In the past 15 years or so, I haven't had a problem with professional respect, although I have to be honest and say the pay isn't up there with PTs and OTs. Part of the problem re: professional respect is, in my opinion, our profession's roots as "the fun and games lady." When I first started working in this profession I was one of the few degreed activity directors in our local group of 25 directors, most were CNAs that had worked their way into the profession. I realize the lack of formal training isn't as common as it once was, but old attitudes die hard sometimes, and formal training goes a long way toward being recognized as a professional.

 

If one wants professional respect, one must walk the walk and talk the talk. As the activity director:

-Do you dress on a par with other department heads, or do you go to work looking like you're ready to work in the garden? I keep an extra set of clothes in my office to change into if what I wear to work isn't appropriate for whatever comes up in the day - like that fishing trip we decide to take the guys on.

-Do you write care plans that are on a professional par with nursing and social service care plans?

-Are you able to discuss resident condition and change of condition as an equal with nursing and social services?

-Do you write your own policies, are they at least as well written as those written by nursing, or do you have someone else write them for you?

-Do you have an understanding of your budget that is on the same level as that of other department managers?

-When you wish to start a new service, buy new equipment, or hire new staff, are you able to argue your case using objective facts, or do your rely on "the residents want/need it?"

-Do you have a strong understanding of the regulations, and not just F248 and F249? Do you have a good understanding of all of the Quality of Life regulations? How about the Life Safety Codes? Quality of Care Codes?

-Do you have an active Quality assurance program?

 

I know all of those things take time, something we're all in short supply of. I have one relief assistant and one 20 hr/wk assistant in a 50 bed facility, run activities 7 days a week and 3 evenings a week with only a very small volunteer force. But until you can answer yes to all of the above questions, professional respect is going to be hard to come by, no matter what job title you are carrying.

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  • 2 months later...
I've been in the nursing home business for 30 years and an activity director for 25 years, all at the same facility. In the past 15 years or so, I haven't had a problem with professional respect, although I have to be honest and say the pay isn't up there with PTs and OTs. Part of the problem re: professional respect is, in my opinion, our profession's roots as "the fun and games lady." When I first started working in this profession I was one of the few degreed activity directors in our local group of 25 directors, most were CNAs that had worked their way into the profession. I realize the lack of formal training isn't as common as it once was, but old attitudes die hard sometimes, and formal training goes a long way toward being recognized as a professional.

 

If one wants professional respect, one must walk the walk and talk the talk. As the activity director:

-Do you dress on a par with other department heads, or do you go to work looking like you're ready to work in the garden? I keep an extra set of clothes in my office to change into if what I wear to work isn't appropriate for whatever comes up in the day - like that fishing trip we decide to take the guys on.

-Do you write care plans that are on a professional par with nursing and social service care plans?

-Are you able to discuss resident condition and change of condition as an equal with nursing and social services?

-Do you write your own policies, are they at least as well written as those written by nursing, or do you have someone else write them for you?

-Do you have an understanding of your budget that is on the same level as that of other department managers?

-When you wish to start a new service, buy new equipment, or hire new staff, are you able to argue your case using objective facts, or do your rely on "the residents want/need it?"

-Do you have a strong understanding of the regulations, and not just F248 and F249? Do you have a good understanding of all of the Quality of Life regulations? How about the Life Safety Codes? Quality of Care Codes?

-Do you have an active Quality assurance program?

 

I know all of those things take time, something we're all in short supply of. I have one relief assistant and one 20 hr/wk assistant in a 50 bed facility, run activities 7 days a week and 3 evenings a week with only a very small volunteer force. But until you can answer yes to all of the above questions, professional respect is going to be hard to come by, no matter what job title you are carrying.

 

This is an especially good point. I came from working in a pharmacy before, so I didn't have many dressy work clothes, and didn't have the budget to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe right from the start. But I've slowly acquired a nice assortment of professional looking outfits (thank you, petites department at JC Penneys! Affordable and nice looking!) Anyway, the point is, I've noticed that I get a lot more respect these days, and although part of it is because I've been at it almost two years now and I'm not the same scared girl as I was, I do believe that clothes make a big difference. Not just when it comes to coworkers, but from family, volunteers, and even residents. I keep aprons for covering up my clothes when we paint and such, and I wear khakis and polo shirts for outings where I'm really going to be moving, but the rest of the time, I wear dress slacks, nice blouses, tailored suit jackets, and pearls. Yeah, maybe I look silly doing exercise with them, but I know to plan to wear blouses with a little stretch and breathability on the days when we do exercise!

 

Our facility is "upscale" so we're strongly encouraged to dress this way. Anyway, when I've met other activity directors, they look a little messy. I'm sure not all are, but you have to hold yourself and dress yourself like you believe that you are "somebody" to the facility. Though I hide behind "I'm just the bingo lady" when I have a troublesome family member nagging me to "use my sway" to get something done the way they want it, I know that I'm not just the bingo lady. Other staff members often say, "Well, she knows the residents better than anyone, so..." when it comes to a discussion on how something should be done or something being changed, etc. It's nice that they say that - and I back it up by always being out there, having that face time with the residents. I do know the residents better than anyone (sometimes better than their own kids!) And that should be true of an AD.

 

But that's a really good self evaluation checklist you've made. I see a couple of things that I could improve on (being aware of other regulations.)

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Pen,

 

I have to say that I like being a "Therapist" many residents say that activities change the way that they feel/think/behave. And isn't that what a therapist does???

 

Bc

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True Activity Therapists is accurate but at the same time it still says Activity- in many peoples minds this refers to play and will not make any difference to most of our peers on how they view us. I would like to suggest Quality of Life Director. I feel this is what we are responsible for managing, documenting and monitoring for our residents. Some are unable to perceive the awesome responsibility this is when they think we are just a playmate to the sick or elderly. It is our job as professionals to educate our peers and get them involved in our programing.

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