How to Become an Assisted Living Administrator

Overview

An assisted living facility is a housing option for adults who may need help with daily living tasks, such as bathing, dressing and toileting. Medication management and transportation may also be provided. The exact services provided may vary by facility. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, about 50 percent of residents in assisted living facilities are age 85 or older. As assisted living administrator directs, coordinates and manages the operation of an assisted living facility.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of an assisted living administrator include implementing policies and procedures for resident services. This may also involve analyzing and developing ways to improve services.

Administrators ensure state and local regulations are met, such as health and safety standards. Regulations may also include adhering to staffing requirements, such as resident to employee ratios and staff background checks. Additional responsibilities of an administrator include planning and administrating the budget, overseeing the hiring of staff and conducting staff trainings.

Requirements

There is not one set path to becoming an assisted living administrator. The requirements to work as an administrator are regulated at the state level. For example, some states require an assisted living administrator to obtain a license, which is issued by the state after meeting specific education, training and testing requirements.

Specific state requirements can be found on the Assisted Living Federation of American website. General education and certification requirements include those listed below.

Education

Educations requirements may vary to become an assisted living administrator. For example, some facilities may require an associate degree while others prefer to hire individuals with a bachelor’s; degree. There is not usually one specific major, which is required for employment, but classes in gerontology, healthcare management and psychology are helpful. In some instances, facilities may require an administrator have a master’s degree in healthcare administration or a similar field.

Certification

Most states require an assisted living administrator to be licensed. States that do license administrators, require applicants pass an exam administered by the National Association of Long-term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). The exam covers topics, such as business management, human resources and resident care. Up to date exam fees, requirements and participating states can be found on the NAB website.

Skills and Traits Needed

There are certain skills and traits, which may increase the chances of being successful as an administrator of an assisted living facility, such as the following:

Organizations skills: An administrator for an assisted living facility has to juggle several responsibilities at the same time. Strong organization skills are essential in order to keep everything running smoothly.

Communications skills: From hiring and supervising staff to talking with residents and their families, communication is a large part of the job for an administrator. This includes strong written and oral communication as well as good listening skills.

Leadership: One of the most important skills an administrator of an assisted living facility needs is the ability to lead. Although running an assisted living facility takes teamwork, the administrator guides and directs the team.

Problems solving: Even a well-run assisted living facility may have occasional problems. The administrator needs to be able to take an honest look at the problem and use an analytical approach to solving problems.

Compassionate: Residents likely have come from all different situations. Some may have left homes they lived in for a lifetime. Others may be adjusting to a decrease in independence. Budgeting, marketing and leadership skills are important for an administrator, but compassion and empathy are equally as critical.

Pros and Cons

As with all careers there are pros and cons to working as an administrator of an assisted living facility. On the positive side, an administrator can play a part in helping seniors stay as independent as possible for as long as possible, which can be very rewarding. In addition, the position allows an individual to be involved in all operational aspects of the facility. The diverse responsibilities of the job can keep it interesting.

Although there are many rewards to the job, there may also be a few things, which can be seen as cons. For example, ultimately, the administrator is responsible for everything and needs to juggle many things at the same time. This can become stressful at times.

Job Outlook and Salary

The outlook for medical and health service managers, which includes assisted living administrators is predicted to grow by about 23 percent in the next ten years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth rate is considered to be much faster than average.

Salaries for administrators of an assisted living facility vary widely. The size of the facility, experience level and geographical area all play a role in salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics, in 2012, the average salary of a medical and health service manager, which includes administrators, was about $88,000 a year.

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