Overview of Online Certification Programs for Nursing Home Activity Directors
Students interested in helping plan fun and engaging activities for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to stimulate their mental and physical health may consider earning the Activity Director Certified (ADC) credential from the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP). There are 5 different tracks to qualify for the credential, all of which include a combination of education, experience, continuing education, and passing scores on a national exam. All but one track also requires students to take part 1 and part 2 of the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) curriculum.
MEPAP certification classes are most commonly offered on campus by a certified instructor, but some of these programs are available in hybrid formats. These MEPAP classes can usually be completed in a semester through a short-term certificate program. Some schools include MEPAP classes as part of a larger certificate program that may total around 24 credits. Additionally, there are schools that provide activity director training programs that meet state-level requirements for the position. Many of these are offered on campus, but some may be available in blended formats and could be completed in as little as 36 hours, depending on the program.
Requirements for Nursing Home Activity Director Certification
MEPAP certification courses are designed to equip students with the necessary skills to design, plan, and implement engaging activities for patients, while also providing an overview of the aging services industry. Typically, hybrid programs include online coursework and hands-on practicum/internship experiences.
Information and Requirements
The MEPAP courses are divided into 2 parts that each total 4 credits. Part 1 is typically required for activity assistants or activity professionals, while activity directors need both parts. Instructors that offer these courses online may not have set meeting times in order to give students ultimate flexibility.
Both part 1 and part 2 require an internship experience in addition to coursework. The internship experience for each part could require up to 90 total hours of hands-on experience. Students must complete the internship in an activity setting and may have to complete various practicum assignments throughout the internship.
MEPAP Part 1
Depending on the instructor, some of these courses may be broken down into 4 different units. Students may look at basic concepts in activities and aging services, health issues in aging, activity planning and documentation, and program planning and delivery. Other topics that this section may include are agency regulation, advocacy, therapeutic programming, and resident assessment.
MEPAP Part 2- Activity Management Class
Part 2 takes on a management perspective to help prepare students for positions as activities directors. This section may also be divided into units covering topics in activity management skills, communication skills, and volunteer management. Students may also discuss the various collaborations involved in activities management as well as the need to communicate with other agencies/departments.
Career Outcomes with a Certification in Nursing Home Activity Director
Students completing their ADC certification requirements typically go on to work as activity directors for nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists activities directors under the larger umbrella of recreation workers. The BLS states that these workers typically need at least a high school diploma, and the NCCAP provides ADC certification tracks for those with a high school diploma through a bachelor's degree or higher. However, most activities directors have a bachelor's degree.
According to PayScale.com, the median salary for activity directors was $40,388 as of April 2020. Recreation workers in general had a job outlook of 8% from 2018 to 2028, which was faster than average, per the BLS. Nursing home activities directors are responsible for overseeing the activities and events designed for the health and wellbeing of senior citizens in care facilities. These directors help plan and schedule activities and usually work closely with direct care givers.
Online nursing home activity director certification programs are not very common, but a few hybrid programs are available. Students are required to complete an internship experience and meet other education requirements in addition to passing a national exam for certification.