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What Does a Nursing Home Administrator Do?

An elderly lady in a nursing home.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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A nursing home administrator is the head of operations at a nursing home, acting like the chief executive officer for the facility. Nursing home administrators usually hold at least a master's degree, and they must be licensed to practice in the states where they work. Individual states have different requirements for licensure, but generally people must have proof of education and experience, preferably under the guidance of a preceptor, and they must be able to pass an examination which covers basic topics nursing home administrators are expected to be familiar with.

Skilled nursing facilities, as they are more properly known, are very diverse. Some include relatively healthy older adults who simply need some assistance with their daily lives, while others house very ill patients who may require complex and specialized nursing. For example, a facility which is designed specifically for Alzheimer's patients is highly specialized, with nurses who have been trained to handle Alzheimer's and dementia. A nursing home administrator is responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the facility's operations runs smoothly.

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In large facilities, the administrator is usually assisted by people who may take on some of the duties which would be performed by the nursing home administrator alone in a smaller facility. The responsibilities of the administrator typically include: managing personnel, processing admissions into the facility, managing finances, and overseeing day to day operations at the home. The nursing home administrator sets and enforces policies, resolves disputes, oversees the dietary program at the facility, and ensures that personnel are properly trained.

Overseeing the well being of the residents is also important. Skilled nursing facilities do not just provide medical care: they must also provide residents with a high quality of life. Nursing homes usually have social programs which are overseen by the administrator, and they may have amenities such as hair salons, movie screening rooms, and other facilities which are designed to make residents feel comfortable and to prevent residents from feeling bored.

This kind of work requires a great deal of organizational skills and the ability to multitask. At any given time, a nursing home administrator can be addressing several issues at once, some of which may be critically important. Nursing home administrators also need to keep up with changes in the law regarding nursing homes, and to address the concerns of family members who are worried about their loved ones and elder advocacy organizations who want to confirm that the residents are being treated with compassion and respect.

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Discuss this Article

anon333977
Post 4

I am a new NHA in a center less than 60 days, and oh my word, are functional, autonomous, confident, and able department heads important. All it takes is one or two squeaky wheels and the entire operation is at risk.

Right now, I'm following in the footsteps of two predecessors who micromanaged. I'm at a point where I just want to line everyone up and say "Look. This is how it's going to be. You are on my bus or not. If you are not, let me know now. Otherwise, get it together."

I have to control my intake at this point, because I can't get five minutes without a knock on my door to hear about how many cases of washcloths needed to be restocked, or that a PRN cook was hired today, or that the activities director needs to know how I want her to decorate the dining room for the upcoming birthday party.

I make rounds twice a day, so my office time is extremely valuable. Right now my paperwork is backed up a month, and I'm working 12 hour days. If I come in early or stay late, I'm found. It starts at 7 a.m. and does not stop until I leave.

It's a work in progress to empower these folks, and it is starting to wreck my nerves. But, we will get there.

anon286001
Post 3

I agree that the NHA needs to have the right department heads in place -- those who are quite competent, both in understanding every aspect of their department, and in fulfilling those responsibilities to the best of their ability. If you have to babysit your employees then you have the wrong employees, and you (NHA) are wasting your valuable time.

anon242144
Post 2

As an administrator, I am trying to get my responsibilities under control because I am extremely overwhelmed. One problem I have is that my department heads are not confident in their abilities to run their dept. and not bring every detail to me. Previously, they were micromanaged and that is not an efficient use of an administrator's time or talent.

I think you should stress that the administrator is to oversee the department heads, rather that each department. You have to know you can fully depend on your department heads to do their jobs so that you can do yours.

anon146725
Post 1

If you would research your material, you would see that most all states require a bachelors degree and six months or more of experience or internship to apply for licensure as a long term care administrator.

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