A Day in the Life of an Assisted Living Administrator

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data of 2018, the job growth for medical and health service managers is projected at 20% by 2026.

This is almost three times more than the national average for all occupations.

The aging Boomer generation is the main reason for the increased demand for medical services required by elderly residents in various facilities.

Assisted living administrators play a significant role when it comes to caring for our aging loved ones.

Assisted living facilities care for senior citizens.

Administrators in these facilities oversee their entire operation.

These are more community-focused institutions than other medical facilities, and their administrators need both excellent business skills and compassionate human touch.

These administrators have a wide scope of responsibilities that can vary depending on the facility.

But in the end, they have to provide an empowering and secure environment for elderly citizens they work with.

Work Environment of Assisted Living Administrators

Assisted living administrators are employed by assisted living facilities, which are similar to nursing homes.

Both types of facilities care for elderly residents by providing support services, a secure environment, communal activities, medication management, and meal preparation.

There are significant differences between the two, though, which lie in the structural appearance and medical services.

Nursing homes provide monitoring and medical care 24/7.

So, the staff may include specialized nurses, speech pathologists, physical therapists, and respiratory specialists.

Therefore, nursing homes appear more institutional than assisted living facilities and look a lot like hospitals where residents may share rooms and receive care from full-time medical professionals.

Assisted living facilities, on the other hand, provide a group living environment.

The staff there is better prepared to respond to less life-threatening and minor issues, such as memory loss or impaired mobility.

So, the resident life is more empowering and community-focused for residents, who typically have a strong sense of agency in their lives and their own suites, and assistance is close by if they need it.

Clinical Team

Assisted living administrators usually oversee the overall functioning of the facility.

However, they often manage a team of directors responsible for individual areas.

The composition of such a team generally depends on the size and specialties of the residence.

An activities director may be tasked with preparing community events to keep residents engaged and fit.

A nutrition director makes sure that residents have nutritious and healthy food and that the specific dietary needs of every individual are met.

Depending on the medical care that residents may require, an administrator may also manage a medical director who is in charge of teams of technicians and assistants and provides follow-up support.

In some facilities, administrators have to report to a board of directors.

Regardless, the coordination between administrators and directors is vital for an integrated care system.

Daily Responsibilities of Assisted Living Administrators

Assisted living administrators are responsible for overseeing all operations in an assisted living facility.

They are a part of top-level management.

The position comes with a customized routine, meaning they have to adapt every day to the needs of the residents, staff, and families in the facility.

Depending on the size, population of residence, and scope, their responsibilities may vary.

However, some common responsibilities include:

  • Hiring and maintaining staff.
  • Implementing policies and goals.
  • Monitoring a facility’s compliance with state regulations.
  • Planning a facility’s budget.
  • Conducting meetings with department heads.
  • Coordinating logistical functions such as food service.
  • Marketing the facility’s services to the wider community.

Although business management duties are the bulk of the daily agenda of administrators, serving as a leader and face of the facility is another aspect of their job.

This requires more human directives, such as:

  • Ensuring a safe, equitable, and engaging living environment.
  • Acting as a liaison between residents, families, staff, and community.
  • Developing a culture of compassion throughout the facility.
  • Engaging with residents and staff via facility walkthroughs.
  • Keeping the facility pivoted towards resident-centric operations.

Being an assisted living administrator means being engaged in a constant juggling act.

The administrators of 24-hour facilities have to be on-call at all times.

Additionally, administrators are the leaders of a community of residents, so they should always accommodate the personal needs of those they care for.

Required Skills & Knowledge of Assisted Living Administrators

Assisted living administrators should possess two diverse, but vital, skill sets: compassionate human touch and rational business judgment.

Every facility is a business and needs to be run accordingly.

Therefore, administrators should have comprehensive knowledge of budgeting, record-keeping, and other financial instruments.

However, since assisted living residences are also a community of people, relevant attention to the personalized needs of every resident and their families is essential.

While these facilities aren’t as medically intensive as nursing homes, they do have to meet the needs of an aging population.

This requires some knowledge of end-of-life care and gerontology.

These professionals need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.

However, to really meet the needs of such a facility, a graduate-level education is recommended.

The degrees that can help develop an administrator’s skills and empower them in the right combination of medical, business, and social knowledge include:

  • MHA with a gerontology focus.
  • MBA with a healthcare focus.
  • And other specialized education options.

Certification & Licensure for Assisted Living Administrators

Assisted living administrators are required to be licensed by most states.

Each state, however, has various eligibility requirements.

A list of states that require a license through the Residential Care Assisted Living (RCAL) exam is maintained by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB).

In some states, the RCAL exam is administered by the NAB to evaluate entry-level knowledge and skills for the profession.

This can be considered as a part of state licensure.

Eligibility, pricing, and other requirements specific to a state are provided in the NAB’s Candidate Handbook.

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