Activity Director Job Description
An Activity Director oversees the therapeutic and recreational activities for geriatric groups. They may work in a retirement home, nursing home, senior center or healthcare setting, but their job remains essentially the same. They coordinate staff schedules, manage and create activities and events, and maintain equipment and rooms for their activities.
Activity Directors generally report to a Facility Director or Community Manager. They also are often supervisors themselves to a staff of activity coordinators or volunteers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a job growth of 10 percent through 2024 for Recreation Workers, which Activity Directors fall under. This will add about 38,900 jobs during that period.
Activity Director Duties and Responsibilities
The type of organization Activity Directors work for, greatly determines the duties and responsibilities they can expect to undertake. There are, however, several core tasks common to all Activity Directors. A review of current job listings identified the following core responsibilities.
Perhaps the most important task of the Activity Director is to manage the activity department’s staff. This may include interviewing and hiring staff members, providing training, creating schedules, filing timesheets and performing disciplinary actions or terminations. Activity Directors will also perform these duties for any volunteers working with the activities department. Mentoring their staff and providing a positive environment for them is an important part of what Activity Directors do.
Activity Directors often play a large role in the creation and programming of both recreational and therapeutic activities. They will often work with other staff to develop and implement programs, but they are responsible for ensuring these programs meet any federal or state regulations and are safe and appropriate for seniors. Scheduling the events is another duty Activity Directors are expected to perform.
In addition to overseeing the staff and the activities, Activity Directors must also manage the activity department. This means they see to the day-to-day operations of the program. They may attend meetings, maintain employee records, perform budgeting functions, create promotional materials and conduct surveys or needs assessments.
Activity Director Skills
Activity Directors should have a passion for working with and assisting elderly populations as well as strong leadership skills. Positive attitudes and an enthusiasm for the job are important when working with seniors. They must have excellent communication skills and the ability to exercise judgment. In addition to these traits, employers look for applicants with the following skillset.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Activity Directors with these core skills. If you want to work as an Activity Director, focus on the following.
- Proficient computer skills
- Budgeting experience
- CPR licensed and trained in first aid
- Experience working in geriatric settings, such as nursing homes or senior centers
- Physically able to perform duties such as standing for long periods, squatting, bending and lifting heavy objects
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Activity Director toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Valid driver’s license
- Certified Activity Professional
Activity Director Resources
There are more helpful and informational resources available on the Web for those interested in becoming an Activity Director. We scoured the internet and found these links full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news.
On the Web
Activity Connection – This website offers online resources for professionals working with the elderly. It provides ideas for programs, crafts and sensory stimulation with seniors. There is also a newsletter section that provides ideas for articles and topics to include in a monthly newsletter, as this job often falls to Activity Directors.
Activity Directors Network – A website full of links to resources and references for Activity Directors working with elderly populations. From fun activities to health and medical advice for seniors, this site is full of useful information.
Not Just Bingo – A site dedicated to providing Activity Directors with useful articles, how-to posts, and other information on games and activities that support the physical and mental well-being of senior citizens.
@ADNetwork – This feed is maintained by ActivityDirectors.com and provides information on training opportunities, job openings, and other industry-related information and news.
@nccaporg – This relatively new Twitter feed is maintained by the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals (NCCAP) and provides information on upcoming symposiums and events as well as industry news.
Activity Director Books
The All-new Activity Director’s Bag of Tricks – This text is a wonderful resource for the Activity Director, supplying them with ample ideas and time-tested activities and programs for their elderly patients.
Caregiver Activity Lesson Plans – This book is offered by the National Association for Activity Professionals (NAAP) and includes detailed lesson plans that can be used in nearly any geriatric setting to help motivate and entertain elderly patients.
National Association for Activity Professionals – The NAAP was formed in 1982 to represent activity professionals working mainly in geriatric settings. They promote professional development and personal growth by providing conferences, education programs and resources to their members.
National Certification Council for Activity Professionals – Established in 1986, NCCAP is an organization dedicated to certifying activity professionals and establishing standards and criteria to promote excellent care for senior populations.
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