A woman guiding older adults in a game involving hoola hoops

Activity Assistant certificate program

4-month part-time blended online and in-person

Are you a health care assistant or other professional working with the elderly in care facilities? Do you love working with the elderly and creating happiness in their lives? In the Activity Assistant Certificate program, you develop the knowledge, skills and values you need to plan and implement activities for older adults.

What does an activity assistant do?

An activity assistant helps to put together activities for older adults. They work on every aspect of the activity:

  • assessment
  • planning
  • implementation
  • evaluation
  • documentation


Activity assistants get to know the group or person they’re working with. They complete and update social histories and make sure they’re aware of the cultural needs of their clients.


Using the information they’ve gathered, they set goals for the activities, brainstorm ideas for activities and create a program plan. This often involves working with a team or with volunteers.


When they run the activity, they are mindful of group dynamics, and they must manage the risks associated with the activity. They are trained in how to manage difficult situations.

Evaluation and documentation

After the activity is complete they evaluation the success of the program and document it.

Activity assistants can work in a variety of settings including:

  • independent living
  • assisted living
  • long-term care
  • adult day programs

What will I learn in the Activity Assistant program?

You learn to plan and run activities that promote the well-being of your clients. The program focuses on the five domains of health:

  • social
  • physical
  • emotional
  • cognitive
  • spiritual

You learn evidence-based best-practices, then you apply what you learned, planning and running activities in the community. It can be a lot of fun.

Is it easy to find work as an activity assistant?

There is a growing demand for activity assistants in BC to meet the needs of an aging population. When you complete this program, you’ll be eligible for many roles in care homes and community including:

  • recreation programmerA group of students in colourful clothing posing with a hoola-hoop
  • activity aide
  • activity worker
  • program assistant
  • recreational aide
  • recreational worker
  • wellness assistant
  • life enrichment worker

What to expect from the program

You get classroom instruction and practicum experience. Topics include:

  • framework for the activity assistant role
  • activity for well-being
  • programming ideas for clients with cognitive impairment

Courses are offered on a part-time basis. Some classes are online, and some are in-person. Theory classes are scheduled on weeknights and Saturdays.

There is one 40-hour practicum and one 90-hour practicum. The practicums are in-person and are scheduled based on the needs of the practicum site. You may need to be available part-time or full-time for your placement. We make an effort to hold practicum in your home community wherever possible.

The 2024 theory courses will be held online on Thursday evenings and in-person at the Nanaimo campus on Saturdays. You must have access to a computer with a working camera, audio and reliable internet service to complete this program.

The 40-hour practicum will be held between February 26 and March 22, 2024. The 90-hour practicum will be held between April 1 and April 26, 2024. Please ensure that you are available to attend the practicums in these time frames.

Program details

To learn more about this program, including admission requirements, fees, deadlines and course details, see the Activity Assistant calendar page.

Get help paying for the program

If you’re a resident of BC you may be eligible for funding through the StrongerBC future skills grant which offers BC citizens up to $3500 for skills training.

If you’re a member of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) you may be eligible for funding toward the cost of tuition through the FBA Education Fund.

A smiling woman wearing giant sunglasses and colourful clothing

How to apply

Ready to join us at VIU? We can’t wait to get to know you. Applications for this program are currently open. You can apply online or with a paper application.

Apply online


Email: pdt.hhs@viu.ca