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How to Become a Nursing Home Activities Coordinator

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If you coordinate activities for seniors at a nursing home, your job actually falls under two distinct categories: recreational worker and recreational therapist, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As such, there is typically no set way to achieve your goal of designing and leading activities for this specific population. Multiple paths lead to this career destination.

Becoming a Nursing Home Activities Coordinator

Earn a degree in parks and recreation, leisure studies or related fields. According to the BLS, there are nearly 90 institutions that are P&R accredited. There are options to earn either an associates or a bachelors degree, and you may also get more advanced degrees to make you more marketable, particularly for managerial positions.

Seek a recreational therapist degree, or a rec degree with a therapist concentration, according to the BLS' section on recreational therapy. Recreational therapists will want to take classes in anatomy, physiology, psychiatry, medical ethics and how to use assitive devices, among other disciplines.

Seek specialization. Though "recreational therapy" itself may be considered a specialization falling under the recreational worker umbrella at some universities, there are other specialties. In the case of a nursing home coordinator, take as many classes as possible to help you serve the specific needs of seniors and those who are disabled, according to the BLS.

Get certification. In some states, the BLS reports, you may need certification to practice as a recreational therapist, and in many cases employers may prefer you get certification. You can receive certification through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation, but only after passing a written exam and completing an internship.

Work in home care. You don't necessarily have to earn a degree in recreation or recreational therapy to become a nursing home coordinator. Work as a home health or personal care aide, for example, gives you experience with seniors and can be your entrance into working in higher-position jobs within the eldercare realm, according to a 2010 AOL Jobs report. The activities coordinator job itself also has opportunities for upward mobility, into more senior management and HR positions, according to the BLS.


Since 2000 reporting and writing has taken Michelle Leach to Michigan, Nebraska, Washington, D.C., Chicago, London and Sydney, Australia. Her stories have appeared in various media outlets including NBC's "The Today Show," Reuters, Chicagoland dailies and network affiliates across the United States. Leach has a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor's degree in journalism/politics from Lake Forest College.