The demand for medical and health service managers, including nursing home administrators, continues to grow at an accelerated rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS), jobs in this category are expected to increase by 17 percent through 2024, which is significantly faster than average.
Nursing home administrators handle a great deal throughout their days, from minor problems with patients to the implications of large-scale improvements to their facilities. If you’re thinking about getting a gerontology degree to enhance your career trajectory in this area, you can hit the ground running and make a positive impact in your future organization by learning about these three ways nursing homes are changing in 2017.
IT Adoption in All Departments
From housekeeping and nursing to patient intake and food services, all departments within nursing homes are starting to use technology to better perform their job duties. According to Greg Slabodkin of Health Data Management, information technology has significantly improved treatment quality in nursing homes, even though IT adoption rates have not yet reached 100 percent.
Slabodkin says software and hardware solutions can help bring different departments together and ensure that each patient receives the care he or she needs. Electronic health records, or EHRs, for instance, allow physicians, nurses, and other patient-care professionals to share information, review patient records, and even keep in touch with family.
Slabodkin notes that, while information technology can vastly improve nursing home administration, it’s useful throughout the organization. The main challenges that nursing homes face in this area revolve around the cost of adoption. The government has begun offering incentives to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to encourage IT adoption. Fortunately, improving IT infrastructure doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Nursing home administrators can make the process easier by testing different software tools and proving the benefits of technology before expanding technology through the rest of the center.
While technology can improve patient care and administration productivity, leadership might prove even more critical to nursing home administration. Bernie Dana and Dr. Douglas Olson prepared a paper on effective leadership in long-term care facilities for the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA). According to Dana and Olson, nursing homes require “transformational leadership,” which they define as leaders who continually look for new solutions, know how to delegate tasks effectively, and solicit feedback from others.
Olson and Dana also emphasize the importance of trust and rapport. Nursing home administrators will be more effective if their team members trust them to do the right thing and to take care of them. A few ways they can accomplish this includes:
- Soliciting feedback from team members and taking action on their suggestions.
- Sharing updates, news, and reports, thus creating a transparent work environment.
- Communicating expectations and changes clearly to prevent confusion.
According to the ACHCA paper, organizational change only proves effective when there’s “buy-in” from all members. By leading the way, nursing home administrators can create change on their teams through effective leadership and then grow it throughout the organization.
Talent Retention Strategies
Transformational leadership could help improve retention, and make caring for older adults more consistent and rewarding. According to General Medicine P.C. CEO Tom Prose, turnover rates for Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, can “exceed 100 [percent].” CNAs provide the most patient care in most long-term care facilities, and high turnover not only drains organizational resources but also disrupts patient care. Now is the time to start planning for the future and focus on retention in senior living.
There are a few ways that companies can reduce turnover and create a more positive work environment for nursing home administrators. A few of these steps include:
- Providing on-the-job training and increasing employee skillsets to encourage career growth.
- Increasing wages to match the industry standard other nurses receive.
- Reducing heavy workloads so that caregivers can spend more time helping patients and creating a welcoming life within the nursing home.
According to The Administration for Community Living (ACL), the number of people in the United States who are 65 years or older will increase from 46.2 million in 2014 to 98 million in 2060. As the population of older adults increases, demand for nursing homes increases. As noted by the BLS, nursing home administrators will continue to remain in high demand as more facilities open.
Professionals who specialize in gerontology can strive to create better work environments, whether they’re helping nursing home staff schedule shifts or looking for team training opportunities. By providing consistent care for older adults, they can improve quality of life as well as reduce turnover.
If you’d like to work in nursing home administration and improve the lives of aging Americans celebrating their golden years, consider building on your existing professional experience with a Master of Arts in Gerontology. This degree program can help advance your leadership and give you the tools necessary to help improve the quality of care for older adults.