The long term and post-acute care profession will gather Oct. 10-13 for the first in-person American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living Convention & Expo since 2019.

The annual event, held virtually in 2020, will inspire, engage, and reunite with a slew of exciting speakers, education, entertainment, and numerous opportunities to network with colleagues.

It all takes place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor just outside of Washington, D.C. With plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces, spectacular views, loads of restaurants within walking distance, and a variety of activities, it’s a premier location for reconnecting and learning.

When not participating in the education sessions or browsing in the Resource Center or Expo Hall, attendees will be able to take a cab into D.C. or a ferry across the Potomac River to Alexandria, Va. There’s no shortage of interesting sites to explore or restaurants to try.

Educational Sessions

This year’s convention offers an important opportunity to reflect on the experiences of the past year and learn how best to tackle the significant challenges facing providers today. Attendees can earn up to 15.5 CEs. Key topics include:
• Rebuilding Census
• Trauma-informed Care
• Workforce and Leadership
• Infection Control & Prevention
• Survey & Regulatory Compliance
• Reimbursement
• Quality Improvement
• Technology & Innovation
• Assisted Living
• Clinical Care Practice
• Person-Centered Care
• Post-Acute Care
• Behavioral Health
• Rehabilitation Therapy
• Operational Analytics

Independent owners, providers of homes for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and not-for-profit providers can participate in specific constituency education.

The 15th Annual NCAL Day takes place on Sunday, Oct. 10, as does the Rehabilitation Therapy Program. Both are separately ticketed events. See convention education for more details and visit the convention website at or to see all the tracks of learning and read full-session descriptions.

Opening and Closing General Sessions

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, long term and post-acute care staff went above and beyond what anyone could consider everyday routines, setting their fears aside to care for and protect their residents in the face of great personal risk. The Opening and Closing General Sessions will specifically honor them and provide a platform to reflect and acknowledge what the profession has endured.

The general sessions will feature a variety of speakers and special events that are sure to inspire, including LED Talks—short, powerful messages designed to Lead, Engage, and Discover. The LED Talks will focus on COVID-19 care stories with different perspectives, from direct care staff to CEO to family member, providing a way to recognize and process the personal and professional impacts of the pandemic.

Awards Given

In addition, the CDC Foundation will award the 2021 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes, recognizing all frontline nursing home staff in a formal ceremony. The Evelyn and Thomas McKnight Family Fund for Patient Safety and the CDC Foundation jointly created the award to honor those who serve and protect patients from harm related to health care outbreaks.

“The McKnight Prize for Healthcare Heroes is intended for an individual, but the COVID-19 response has shown us that we are all in this together. The heroism of all the nursing home staff that showed up and kept showing up day after day truly captures the spirit of the award,” said Thomas and Evelyn McKnight.

The entire assisting living workforce will be honored with a new award, graciously sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL), that recognizes the continuous support, unwavering commitment, hard work, and selflessness demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capping things off, AHCA/NCAL will present the Gold Quality Award as well as the Mary K. Ousley Champion of Quality Award and the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award.

A Tale of the Past, A Look at the Future

AHCA/NCAL leadership will share updates, review important issues impacting the profession, and discuss what’s next.

Attendees will also get a sneak peek at the brand new AHCA/NCAL documentary, “COVID-19 in Long Term Care.” This short film explores the past year from different perspectives of staff, residents, and others who lived it firsthand. Full screenings of the film take place each day at convention. Consult the Schedule of Events for details on time and location.

The Opening General Session takes place on Monday, Oct. 11, while the Closing General Session takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

More Special Events

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Ceremony will recognize both the 2020 and 2021 recipients, honoring the commitment to quality care demonstrated by the recipients of the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. A celebration with light refreshments will be available immediately following the ceremony.

With A Night of Inspiration: 2021 Gala & PAC Concert Featuring Chase Rice happening on Wednesday, Oct. 13, AHCA/NCAL has combined the Gala Dinner & Show and the PAC Concert into one spectacular evening. The dinner and entertainment provide a fun and relaxing way to wrap up convention. Note that it is a separate ticketed event.

Country music artist Chase Rice, known for hits like “Ready, Set, Roll” and “Eyes On You,” will share some of his new music, such as “Belong,” which he completed during the pandemic. Says Chase, “My favorite line in the song is ‘Where we’re going, we don’t know, but we’re going there together.’”

Additional receptions and social events take place throughout the four days of convention, offering formal and informal opportunities to reunite, network, and connect with colleagues.

Expo Hall

In the Expo Hall, providers can learn about the latest industry innovations.

“It will be so nice to see current clients and meet new people in person,” says Erin Mooney, chief operating officer of Healthcare Academy, one of the more than 350 business partners who will give product demonstrations, answer questions, and talk about the concerns and challenges facing the sector.

“We are so excited to be able to discuss how our programs, in partnership with AHCA/NCAL, can help providers meet day to day operational and regulatory needs,” Mooney says.

The Expo Hall is a great place to network with company representatives as well as colleagues. Lunch is provided for all who attend each day.

Virtual Convention Package

For those that cannot attend in person, there is also a virtual convention package available that includes the opportunity for CEs and contains a combination of curated live-stream and on-demand content. Live-stream sessions will be converted to on-demand for those who cannot watch live. The sessions will be timely and attractive to both skilled nursing and assisted living audiences and contain a range of topic areas. Key sessions of the virtual package include both of the general sessions, the Quality Award Ceremony, and a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) update.

Online registration is available through Sept. 24 and offers a $100 discount. After that, registration is offered on site.

“I encourage providers to join us. We have an amazing event planned and a very special Quality Award Ceremony, a highlight for me,” says AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson. “I can’t wait to see everyone.”

See the complete Schedule of Events and register at or

Danielle Levitan is senior director, marketing & product development, for the American Health Care Association. She can be reached at