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Activities coordinators keep the elderly, ill, and recovering engaged and active. They work in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, and adult day care programs, ensuring that residents and participants maintain as much vitality as is possible for them. Despite Florida's large number of facilities for the elderly, the state does not license activities coordinators, but many employers still prefer activities coordinators or directors with a formal education and certification in the field. Prospective activities professionals can find educational opportunities throughout Florida and online.
The National Certification Council for Activities Professionals is the foremost authority in activity director credentials. NCCAP certifies activities assistants and directors or coordinators. Before a person can sit for the exam to earn her activities director certification, she needs at least 192 hours of instruction and 6,000 hours during the prior five years of experience in an elder-care or rehabilitation setting.
Courses in Florida
NCCAP has two affiliate education offices in Florida that offer the official Activities Director Certification course. Some modules of the course are available online for those who don't have a center easily accessible, or whose schedules make in-person classes difficult. Additionally, several online programs offer NCCAP authorized courses nationally, including to Florida residents. Information on affiliates is available in the education sections of the NCCAP website (nccap.org).
Beginning January 2012, NCCAP certification candidates must take the new national examination. NCCAP requires candidates to complete all coursework and have relevant experience in elder care before authorizing someone to take the exam. The test will operate through a secure online testing platform. NCCAP considers this an additional measure to ensure certificate holders are worthy of their credentials and that employers can trust the NCCAP name.
Both the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification and National Therapeutic Recreation Association offer certificates for activity directors or coordinators. Because there is no one certificate program recognized by the state of Florida or mandated in the industry, these are valid alternatives to the dominant NCCAP program. NCTRC also has a national exam administered once per month upon completion of its coursework and training.
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Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.