An initiative of The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness at UNC Asheville | Statement of Compassion & Inclusion

How to Become a Leader

What is a “Lay Leader”?

Many of the evidence based programs offered across North Carolina use a lay leader programming model.  This means that the leaders don’t have to be physicians, nurses, or physical therapists, they just need to be interested in helping people take control of their health.  The lay leader training provides an individual with everything they’ll need to lead a class through a given program. Individuals interested in becoming certified as a lay leader will lead in an evidence based class such as A Matter of Balance or one of the Chronic Disease Self Management Programs.

Who can become a Lay Leader?

Participants should be willing to lead classes in their community at regular intervals, with support from a Master Trainer and other healthy aging leaders.

What are the components?

Lay leader training varies by program.  Training sessions include in-depth discussions of the program content, activities, and quality assurance. You don’t need any previous teaching or healthcare experience but you must plan to attend the entire training in order to be certified.

Lay Leader Trainings

Leader Training Requirements

Each of the evidence-based community health programs we support have their own requirements for becoming a trained leader and offering the program with fidelity as outlined below. Healthy Aging NC supports leaders throughout their training, offers resources for implementation, and collects data to help guide quality improvement

An interest in serving participants in your community, including underserved adults, older adults, and adults with disabilities; Ability to work with a group of people, to include displaying good communication and listening skills and a non-judgmental approach; Ability to be a positive role model to others; Respect for participant confidentiality; Experience maintaining required paperwork, collaborating successfully, and overseeing group logistics.

  • Program Developer: Self Management Resource Center (SMRC)
  • Led by: 2 trained instructors
  • Group size: 12-16 participants (in-person); 8-12 (virtual)
  • Program length: 2.5 hour session/week x 6 weeks

Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) Leader Training Requirements

  • In-person CDSME Leader training: Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) offers CDSME leader training for attendees statewide and other AAAs offer training for their regions.  A 4-day (in-person) Chronic Disease Self-management Program (CDSMP) leader training is required as the foundation training. Centralina offers a 2-day (in-person) cross-training in Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP) and a 1-day cross-training in Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP).

*CDSMP training is required as a prerequisite for cross-training.

    • Centralina Fees: 4-day is $50, 1-2 day is $25.
  • Online CDSME leader training offered through SMRC (SMRC license required):

CDSMP leader training is required as the foundation – attend 13, 2.5-hour Zoom video meetings using webcam and computer speakers (over 7 weeks). 1 day cross-training in DSMP/CPSMP.

*CDSMP training is required as a prerequisite for cross-training.

    • SMRC Fees: CDSMP- $1,000, DSMP/CPSMP – $500

Other requirements: Teach one workshop within the first 12 months after training and 1 workshop per year to maintain certification as lay leader.

  • Program Developer: MaineHealth
  • Led by: 2 trained coaches or 1 Master Trainer
  • Group size: 8-12 participants
  • Program length: 8-2 hour sessions, 2x/4 weeks or 1x/8 weeks.
  • Leader training requirements: Complete 8 hour coach training led by a Master Trainer; lead one workshop within a year.
  • Fees:
    • Coaches: AAAs often offer free training to those who teach one class per year in their region; minimal fees may apply for out-of-region training.
    • Master Trainers: $2,000 via MaineHealth
  • Other requirements: Virtual implementation requires an additional 4-hour virtual coach training. 
  • Program Developer: Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health Institute
  • Led by: 1-2 trained instructors
  • Group size: 6-18 participants
  • Program length: 20 – 1 hour sessions, 2x/10 weeks or 1x/20 weeks
  • Leader training requirements: Attend an in-person 2-day training or online/hybrid (15 hour) Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI) Instructor Training; CPR and First Aid certification
  • Fees: Leader Training – Approximately $250-350; Annual Tai Chi for Health Board fee of $26 USD; additional materials may be required
  • Other requirements: Maintain annual Tai Chi for Health Board Certification and complete TCA/FP recertification training every two years.
  • Tai Chi for Health Institute Instructor Workshop Calendar
  • Program Developer: Arthritis Foundation
  • Led by: 1-2 trained leaders
  • Group size: 12-15 participants
  • Program length: 1 hour sessions, 3 times per week, for 6 weeks
  • Leader training requirements: CPR certification, completion of a 3 hour online training consisting of reading a leader guide, watching webinars, and taking a brief multiple choice test.
  • Fees: $89
  • Other requirements: all participants must have a Walk with Ease guidebook

To learn more about becoming a health coach, please click here to see the details! 

  • Program Developer: The University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center
  • Led by: 1 trained coach
  • Group size: one-on-one (in-person or virtual)
  • Program length:  8 sessions – 1 hour each visit over a five-month period
  • Leader training requirements: Attend online training through the University of Washington, Health Promotion Research Center. The training includes three sections (online modules, live practice session, and training evaluation). The online modules of the training are self-paced so participants can access and finish them at a convenient time for them. Participants will also need to complete a practice session and training evaluation.  Total Training Time: 8 hours
  • Fee:  $500
  • Program Developer: Project Enhance
  • Led by: 1 trained instructor
  • Group size: 25 participants (in-person); 12 participants (virtual)
  • Program length: 1 hour session, 3x/week (ongoing), check-in every 4 months
  • Leader training requirements: 12- hour in-person or remote training
  • Fees: $250
  • Other requirements: In order to be trained, EF Instructor Candidates must be associated with a licensed EF affiliate.