Key Takeaways

  • NCOA’s National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) offers the nation’s only Senior Center Standards of Excellence, Self-Assessment, and Accreditation Program.

  • Get answers to frequently asked questions about National Senior Center Accreditation.

  • Learn more about the process NISC takes and what your senior center will need to do to get started on accreditation.

 

What is the National Senior Center Self-Assessment and Accreditation process?

Self-Assessment and Accreditation is a two-phase process:

  1. Community Self-Assessment: Based on Standards of Excellence, the senior center convenes community stakeholders to engage in a self-assessment, using a companion workbook. Key questions prompt discussion and help identify areas where the center excels and where it can be improved, along with giving you the information to create an action plan. 
  2. Peer-reviewed Accreditation: Materials are gathered during the Self-Assessment process, and, when the center is ready, these supporting documents are submitted through an online application. Specially trained peers complete a review of the materials and an on-site or virtual visit. The peer reviewers then prepare a report of their findings, including identified strengths, best practices, and suggestions, and submit that with their recommendations. The National Accreditation Board, a group of experienced NISC peers, reviews the report and determines the center’s accreditation status. The cost associated with the peer review process is based on the senior center's budget and peer review expenses, if needed. 

How do I start accreditation?

Learn about the Standards of Excellence and Accreditation by requesting the Building Excellence standards manual. NISC affiliates can email us at membership@ncoa.org, and we will send you a digital copy.

As soon as you are ready to begin the process, complete the Intent to Self-Assess Form, which can be  filled out online.  This is important because it allows us to provide you with any updated information and provide better support. 

Can any size senior center be accredited?

Yes, this process was tested on eight senior centers ranging from a storefront to a multi-site organization, not-for-profit and governmental, and has been used by hundreds of senior centers. It worked with all of them!

How much time does it take to get accredited?

The time it takes can vary, but, to date, most senior centers that have gone through the process have taken six to 12 months for completion of the self-assessment process and another four to five months for the peer review process.

When does accreditation expire?

Accreditation is for a five-year period, and there is a process for renewing the accreditation.

What technical assistance is available?

You have access to two kinds of technical assistance:

  • Building Excellence provides you with resources that can help. 
  • NISC can connect you with our peer network and provide you with guidance.

What is the history behind NISC's Standards of Excellence and Accreditation?

NCOA/NISC received a large, corporate-funded grant to develop and refine a national process of accreditation of eight senior centers through a demonstration in seven states. This accreditation process was based upon the NISC Senior Centers Standards of Excellence and an accompanying Self-Assessment Workbook previously developed and tested. As a companion to the development and testing of this accreditation process, a public awareness campaign was designed and tested in order to foster the public's understanding of senior centers and the role they play in the community and the lives of older adults and their families. 

For more information about NISC, contact us via email: membership@ncoa.org.