Date of Conferral





Public Health


Cynthia A. Tworek


There is little known about the current state of professional development and continuing education practices for empowering activity professionals to better enhance environmental enrichment in long term care. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the activity professional's perceived role and best strategies for professional development to enrich the long-term care environment. The study used social cognitive theory as its theoretical framework to develop research questions focused on the views of activity professionals concerning professional development and continuing education to support care for long-term care residents. Using a narrative approach, 9 activity professionals were recruited through networking at the 2015 NAAP Education Summit in Kentucky, LinkedIn, and snowball sampling. Eligible participants who provided informed consent were interviewed by phone from August 2015 to February 2016. Data were analyzed using both hand coding and NVivo 10.0 software. Results showed the value of relevant certifications and the importance of training in a range of topics, especially dementia care. Connection to others and the environment emerged as key themes. This study is significant because it explores professional development in the long-term care environment, which can facilitate positive social change to provide the elderly, especially those in cognitive decline, with a comforting environment for special needs. This study contributes to the knowledgebase to inform the development of educational and training opportunities for activities professionals, especially those caring for individuals with severe / end-stage dementia.