It's estimated that by 2030, the number of seniors 65 and over will grow by more than 75 percent to 72 million, accounting for one-fifth of the total U.S. population. To meet the health care needs of an aging population, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the health care management field to expand by 22 percent over the next decade, a growth rate that quickly outpaces the average U.S. occupation.
Within this niche of the health care industry, nursing home administrators (NHAs) are indispensable assets to budding senior communities. As a nursing home facility's lead decision maker, this multifaceted role fuses business skillsets with clinical experience to offer nurses active in the field a chance to advance their careers.
Caring for Nursing Home Residents and their Families
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts 1.5 million residents occupy approximately 16,100 nursing homes nationwide, making resident care a central part of any NHA's role.
To evaluate an elderly resident's daily needs, these administrators must possess a working knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of the aging process. This knowledge allows nursing home administrators to implement the necessary nursing care, drug administration or rehabilitation to successfully treat a resident or improve their standard of living.
With a deep understanding of a resident's physical limitations, these professionals can assess where and how that individual might benefit from assistance with daily activities, such as bathing or eating. Communication skills and previous clinical experience in bedside manners are essential for working with residents with possible mental impairments.
As a resident's primary advocate, nursing home administrators act as the patient's liaison between staff and doctors. They must ensure quality care for a resident by communicating instructions or results as needed from both parties, while also ensuring frequent visits by nurses and physicians.
These professionals must also utilize their effective communication skills to navigate the emotional dynamics associated with counseling residents and their families in the transition to nursing home care. These professionals will collaborate with families on a care plan and its associated costs while providing resources needed for the grieving process.
Managing Nursing Home Staff
While the decision-making processes of nursing home administrators tend to revolve around the needs of senior residents, they must also balance the needs of personnel to be equally effective.
Starting with recruitment, NHAs are responsible for the employee interview process where they must evaluate the skills of every candidate and ensure that they are the right fit for the facility. Upon employment, NHAs are in charge of training new employees so that they understand protocols and regulations, particularly when it comes to counseling or interacting with residents and their families.
During the course of a staff member's employment, a nursing home administrator must create measures to determine employee performance, make new training available and enact disciplinary action when necessary.
Ensuring a staff member's health and safety is a constant goal for NHAs. These professionals will not only be responsible for safety training sessions, but also understanding the human resources side of management. NHAs are versed in employee benefits and insurance for auditing purposes and also work to determine how employee well being affects the facility as a whole.
Taking the Financial Reins
Nursing home administrators also take charge of the financial aspects of their facilities by working with accounting and payroll software systems that enable budget and expense reports.
The financial responsibilities of NHAs may include, but are not limited to:
- :: Bookkeeping for facility inventory cash flow
- :: Managing billing for residents and families
- :: Analyzing and planning budget proposals
- :: Communicating financial updates with other management professionals and board members
- :: Overseeing payroll protocols
These individuals are also tasked with monitoring and keeping track of donations or other monetary contributions that are intended for the overall operation of a nursing home. Identifying the budget that is available and where those funds should be spent in order to maximize patient care and facilities in general is one responsibility of NHS's that benefits all involved. Often, nursing home administrators are asked to present to a board with proposed projects or improvements that they believe there is a need to have funds allocated and where exactly those funds will come from.
Complying with Federal and State Procedures
These professionals also act as the biggest agents of change at a facility. Not only do NHAs launch and execute protocols in accordance with federal and state laws, but also they come up with solutions to facility problems or compliance breaches.
Armed with a comprehensive understanding of Medicare, Medicaid, bylaws and other legal policies, they remain fully aware of residents' rights so that they can optimize the quality of their long-term stay. The ability to translate state and federal guidelines into effective nursing home practices allows for a facility to run smoothly as both a business and as a haven of compassionate care.
Maintaining a Nursing Home Facility
The health of a nursing home's residents is only enhanced by the proper maintenance of the facility itself. NHAs spearhead efforts to guarantee that the buildings and equipment are safe for residents and staff. The facility must comply with fire and safety codes and to ensure this, nursing home administrators delegate the necessary maintenance personnel to remedy any potential issues in a quick and effective manner.
Nursing home administrators will also implement and oversee proper sanitizing and handling procedures with housekeeping and cafeteria departments so that residents can have quality, personalized, home-like experiences. Facilities also turn to these professionals to determine how to respond to emergency situations. NHAs will provide staff with disaster resources such as equipment, training, and evacuation plans to prepare for the unexpected.
Versatile Healthcare Heroes
NHAs are an increasingly important asset to senior healthcare. With a diverse range of leadership, financial and clinical responsibilities, they have the potential to bring massive improvements to standards of living for an aging population. Fortunately, aspiring NHAs may be one step closer to implementing these kinds of across-the-board responsibilities without sacrificing their current healthcare roles.
An online health care administration Master's degree from Utica College gives busy health care professionals the multidimensional education needed to become an effective nursing home administrator. By understanding management practices, crafting leadership roles and learning how to foster resident-centric care, Utica College graduates are poised to help the nation's oldest generations.