The need for administrators of long-term health care is growing steadily as the number of older people continues to rise along with advances in medicine. In 2000, the country had 35.1 million people age 66 or older, according to the Government Accountability Office, and by 2020 one of every six Americans will be in that age group. That will increase the number of disabled elderly people, many of whom will require long-term care. Other non-elderly people with disabling illnesses also need long-term care, and it is the administrator's job to make sure all patients are receiving the care they need and their facilities are being run smoothly and efficiently.
Long-term care administrators work in nursing homes, assisted-living and continuing-care retirement communities, home care, hospice and day-care facilities. They manage facilities that provide rooms, personal care and social activities to seniors and patients who cannot take care of themselves because of advanced age or illness.
Long-term care administrators oversee and manage every department in a long term-care facility. They make sure that nursing and medical services are planned, evaluated and carried out properly, and also oversee social services and activity programs to make sure they meet the physical, emotional and psychological need of patients. Administrators also supervise the dietary, medication management and physical therapy programs offered at their centers, and in addition are responsible for human resource functions and financial management.
A bachelor's degree may be adequate for some administrative jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but you will typically need a master's degree in long-term care administration or a related field to obtain employment as a long-term care administrator. Bachelor's and master's degree programs that will prepare you for a career in long-term care can be found in the health care programs of colleges and universities. Typical courses for an administrator program will consist of leadership, marketing, facility operations and health-care laws.
All states require nursing home administrators to be licensed by the applicable state licensing board or agency. Many states also require you to have the appropriate level of education, certification or license to work as an administrator of an assisted-living facility. You may have to take a state-approved training program and pass a licensing test as well.
Wages vary according to the type of facility, size and job responsibilities. In 2008, administrators in nursing care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities earned a median annual wage of $71,190, BLS figures show. Home-health services administrators earned a median annual wage of $71,450 in 2008.
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