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2016 press releases

Wellness directors in retirement communities find earnings rise along with responsibilities

Wellness, fitness and activities staff working with older adults compare their workloads and compensation in the ICAA Salary & Benefits Survey.

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[Vancouver, BC. February 18, 2016.] How important is lifestyle to older adults? Very. Ask what they want, and you are likely to hear that independence, health, and time with friends and family top of the list. How important are lifestyle and wellness to the organizations that cater to older adults? Very. Almost all (90%) of senior managers in retirement communities and community organizations said that lifestyle and wellness offerings are an extremely or very important strategy for growing their business, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)®.1

The success of wellness, activities and fitness programs depends on the staff that work to develop and market these programs. New data from the ICAA Salary & Benefits Survey 2015, sponsored by Precor, captures the responsibilities and compensation of people in the activities, fitness and wellness roles working in age-qualified communities, “seniors” community centers and Area Agency on Aging or government agencies responsible for wellness programming.

Fitness is a top responsibility for most titles. For older adults to remain physically independent, they need the functional ability to take care of themselves and move around in the world. Fitness and wellness coordinators and directors listed fitness/physical activity as their top area of responsibility. To a lesser extent, program managers in seniors centers/agencies indicated fitness/physical activity is a primary area of responsibility. In independent living retirement communities (independent living, independent plus assisted living, 55+ real estate), coordinators for “activities, engagement or lifestyle” listed fitness as a primary responsibility just under “activities.”

Wellness and activities directors in CCRCs are managers. In continuing care/lifecare (CCRC) communities, wellness directors listed managing programs and outcomes (98%) and supervising others who report to you (98%) as their primary responsibilities, followed by marketing the program, setting department goals and setting performance standards, all reported by 92% of directors.

Activities, engagement or lifestyle directors in CCRCs likewise cited management responsibilities at the top of their lists: managing programs and outcomes and setting department goals at 96% and supervising others at 91%.

“Offering lifestyle and wellness opportunities is an imperative for organizations that specialize in services for older adults. These services are the ones that lead to quality of life,” said Colin Milner, chief executive officer of International Council on Active Aging. “These results confirm that directors have established themselves as managers of wellness—meaning all the options for an engaged life. This role is consistent with the managerial role outlined in the ICAA Career Path for Wellness Professionals.”

Compensation for directors reflects responsibilities. The ICAA Salary & Benefits Survey crosses multiple geographic regions and organizations. Most respondents are employees who work 40 or more hours/week with a few working 35-39 hours/week. Among staff members working 35 or more hours per week, in 2015, wellness directors in CCRCs earned the most, reporting a median annual base salary of $57,000. Activities directors in CCRCs brought home a median $54,500; as a group, fitness directors and coordinators earned a median $50,524.

Activities directors in independent living communities reported a median base salary in 2015 of $45,750. They listed teaching or leading classes, activities and exercise as a primary responsibility (94%) along with managing programs and outcomes (94%).

Coordinators are teachers. Activities, fitness, and wellness coordinators listed teaching or leading classes as their primary responsibility, regardless of where they worked. In independent living communities, wellness coordinators are equally responsible for programs and outcomes (100%), then marketing the program (91%). The sample size of coordinators in these organizations is too small to report compensation.

“The wellness roles, which includes activities, fitness, recreation and similar areas, are critical because these staff members work day in and day out with residents and clients. They feel the pulse of the people being served, and learn the perspectives of family members and friends,” commented Patricia Ryan, vice president of education at ICAA. “The quality and resources available to wellness roles should be a priority for organizations repositioning to serve today’s older populations along with their next customers--the baby boomers and Generation X.”

The ICAA Salary & Benefits Survey is available through the ICAA Industry Research portal: http://www.icaa.cc/business/research.htm. The report contains the responsibilities of the wellness workforce, along with compensation and benefits, the education and experience of respondents and their attitudes toward the organization and the older adults they serve. The reports are complimentary for ICAA Organizational and ICAA 100 members. Individual members and nonmembers can order the reports by calling 866-335-9777 or 604-734-4466 or emailing info@icaa.cc.

The ICAA Career Path for Wellness Professionals is available at the ICAA Career Center: http://www.icaa.cc/careercenter.htm

Reference: 1. International Council on Active Aging. (2014). ICAA Wellness Readiness Survey 2014. Available at http://www.icaa.cc/business/research.htm


About the Salary & Benefits Survey
The ICAA Salary & Benefits Survey 2015, sponsored by Precor, was conducted in July and August 2015 among individuals on the ICAA email list. There were 580 responses included in the analysis of all respondents who worked in age-targeted retirement communities (68%) and locations in the larger community, such as seniors centers and age-targeted programs in health clubs and Ys (26%) and other locations (6%). In the analysis of full-time staff in CCRC/lifecare, independent living (independent living, independent plus assisted living, 55+ real estate communities) and seniors centers/agencies responsible for wellness included in the between-organizations comparisons, there are 425 organizations included.

About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
ICAA, a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging – an approach to aging that helps older adults live life as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness – and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools.


Colin Milner, CEO, ICAA
Toll-free: 1-866-335-9777 (North America)
Telephone: 604-734-4466; cell: 604-763-4595

Patricia Ryan, Vice President
International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
patryan@icaa.cc or info@icaa.cc

icaa 100 members