The NCCAP Page
The National Certification Council
for Activity Professionals
Our Mission:  The National
Certification Council for Activity
Professionals is a credentialing
body, which sets standards and
criteria to ensure that those we
serve have optimal life experiences
Why Become
NCCAP Certified?

1. Federal Law, OBRA, states that
an activity department must be
directed by a "qualified
professional." One of the ways to
become qualified is to become a
Certified Activity Professional.

2. NCCAP certification is
recognized by HCFA (Health Care
Financing Administration) as an
organization that certifies activity
professionals who work
specifically with the elderly.

3. NCCAP certification assures
administrators and surveyors that
you have met certain professional
standards to become certified.

4. Many administrators will only
hire activity professionals who are
already certified.

5. Some administrators offer a
higher salary to a certified

6. Become NCCAP certified so
others will know that you are
nationally qualified and giving
quality activity service to


May derive from a wide variety of
curricula: Social Work, Recreation,
Education, and Business
degrees. These are a few of the
educational backgrounds that
represent our certified members.

Activity work experience with
elderly populations, where at least
50% are 55+ years of age. Some
volunteer work with elderly clients
may be applied.

Current education (within past 5
years): workshops, seminars,
college courses that keep the
activity professional abreast of
present trends. NCCAP's Body of
Knowledge contains 27 areas of
education with many subheadings
that are applicable.

May include: advising a group,
working one to one, teaching a
class, conducting workshops,
publishing professional articles,
supervising students and/or
managing 5 or more activity staff

The cost of being certified initially
ranges from $45 to $65
depending upon the level.
Renewal is required every two
years with 20-40 hours of
continuing education and a fee of

For further information
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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

The Activity Director's Office
National Nursing Home Week
Kathy Hughes, ADC
NCCAP President

“Treasure Our Elders” is the theme for this year’s National Nursing Home Week
celebration. As Activity Professionals we hold the key to the treasure chest of memories
that our elders have. We need to take credit for our contribution to their lives and to their
quality of life. There are so many festivities being planned for this one week that we often
forget that we are the people that help make that treasure trove of memories possible.

During your preparations don’t forget to highlight what a key contribution that you make in
your facilities to the bounty of delights that you plan on a daily basis. Display your treasure
and show the world that you assist the elders in their journey of life. Share the golden
moments that you have had throughout the year with so many individuals. It is not just a
week of exhausting programming, but an opportunity to show everyone what it is that
makes activities a treasure trove of memories that have been shared all year long.

Write human-interest articles for your newsletter spotlighting the special things that your
elders have done in their lives. Make a display of all those who have shared special
memories of their families and lives with others. Start a new program that will bring families
together to share their bounty of memories. Keep sending this information throughout the
year to your local newspapers and magazines. Make this celebration last all year.

Congratulations on making this a special week and remember that there are many
resources available to assist you in your celebration.

Tug of War with the Departments?
By Ginger Johnston, ADC
NCCAP Secretary

Do you ever feel as if you are in a war zone at your facility? Every department has a
mission, and they only have eight hours to meet their goals. Have we lost sight of the
reason that we get up and go to work every day? I remember when I decided that I wanted
to go into the Activity field. Young and full of ideas, hoping to change the opinions of those
in our community about Long Term Care facilities. "You have heard the comments, "How
can you work there, it is so sad and depressing?!" Well, not to me, my residents are full of
life and have so much to offer. Yes, things have changed since I found my passion twenty
years ago. I seem to have less time to spend with the residents/clients and more time spent
doing paperwork. Sound familiar?

So, what is it that an Activity Professional does for the resident's? BINGO, Birthday Parties,
and Bible Study? Maybe thirty years ago that would have been the answer, but that's
certainly not the case today. Today's Activity Professional has expanded the choices
available to the resident's. NCCAP, encourages Activity Professionals to continually seek
current skills and tools to augment the best program possible for the residents/client's that
we serve in the various facilities, according to the areas of interest that the resident's life
style has indicated as their meaningful quality of life. We are encouraged to continue to
engage the residents in meaningful activity programs of their choosing; remembering to
look at the residents past but to also respect any new interest they may like to try. As we all
know, it is never too late to take up a new hobby. The days seem to go by a little faster
when we are busy. So, our goal is to enhance the lives of the resident's that we serve at
our facilities, through the programs that we schedule.

We are all aware of the wars that unfortunately are going on in the world and if you are
working in a Long Term Care facility you may feel that some days you yourself are at "war"
with other departments. The resident's have 24 hours in their day, just as we do. How
much of their time is spent with pursuing leisure activities or spent being involved in a
group setting for socialization with others? For most of our residents much of their time is
taken with their ADL care, treatments, meals, as well as physical, occupational, and/or
speech therapies.

We all know what our Nursing departments goals are, to ensure that the residents receive
medical treatment as ordered, get the residents up and dressed, and to make sure that
they are clean, dry and comfortable. Our Dietary department's goal is to provide nutritional
meals within their dietary restrictions, while providing meals that are pleasurable to the
palate, as well as attempts to make special foods for those that have weight loss issues.
The department that seems to be in the biggest "war" with the Activity department is our
Therapy department. It seems as if the Activity department and the Therapy department
are in a "battle" over the resident's time. We all know that our Administrators are looking to
get reimbursement any way that they can. You guessed it, Activities is not a reimbursable
treatment in your facility (only through the daily PPD rates), and sometimes it seems as if
our efforts go unnoticed. The burnout rate for Activity Professional is very high. The
average length of time, it has been estimated for an individual to work as an Activity
Professional at any one job is eighteen months. The reason for this I believe is simple.
Some people become frustrated, feeling that they are expected to act as "baby sitters"
when the nursing staff becomes weary of caring for the more difficult residents, coupled
with being told that therapy treatments, receiving the higher rug rates, are what bring in the
revenue. So, is one department more important than the other? No! Both the Activities
department and the Therapy department should look at the whole picture of each resident.
There is a need for our Activity Professionals as much as there is a need for the Therapist
for the overall well being of the resident.

Are you aware that you can capture your activity programs on the MDS? Evaluate your
existing activities program, take a look at the activities your residents already participate in
and see which of those fall under the umbrella of restorative nursing. Maybe your resident
dismisses the Activity staff upon invitations to recreational activities. Some of the
individuals that we serve seem to have a loss of interest in some activity programs and
they may tend to withdraw with non-involvement during an anticipated short stay at your
facility. The goal is to regain their physical endurance and return home. I think that I would
have the same thought process. We all want to be at home, especially at the holidays. Yet,
our residents need respectful encouragement to retain social contacts and recreational
involvement. We all know that our residents need opportunities to participate in life long
leisure activities, which both relax and hopefully energize the residents. So why not work
with our Therapy department to augment the residents rehabilitation goals? Offer
programs of interest to the residents between therapy sessions. Educate the residents to
the program goals that may be similar to the goal of our therapies. If the resident has a
goal to walk 50-100 feet, why not walk down to the activity room? Promote gradual
exposure to alternate activities to assist with their comfort level.

The bottom line is, "What does the resident want to do?" Can the residents refuse a
therapy treatment? Yes, they can however after (3) three refusals the resident is
discharged from therapy treatment. We as Activity professionals can never give up on the
resident regardless of their participation or refusal of activities. Discuss with your Therapy
department the resident's interest that they have shown with regard to recreational
activities. This is when our Therapy department could, and should offer their treatment at a
different time. The resident should not have to choose between socialization and receiving
their therapy session. Why not both?

Working in the Activity field has its own rewards and its own unique challenges. There are
endless opportunities for us to change and rearrange the day-to-day moments that we
have. It is up to you, to make a change and decide which way that we will go. Will we be at
"war" with our Therapy Departments or will we do whatever it takes to make our residents
time in our facility meaningful?

In 2007 envision the gift that you are, to the individuals that you serve. Sometimes the
most difficult times that we face are our very best teachers in life. There is good to be
found in all situations. Embrace your Therapist; they have so much to offer to our
residents. NN
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