According to the United States Department of Health and Human Resources, nearly 10 million people required some form of long-term care in the year 2000. Of those, 37 percent were under the age of 65, while 63 percent of them were over 65. Since then, research has shown that the mass majority of individuals who live to the age of 65 will need long-term care during their lives.

Common ADLS

  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Using the bathroom
  • Transferring to or from bed

Common IADLs

  • Daily chores
  • Money management
  • Medication management
  • Meal preparation and cleanup
  • Grocery and clothing shopping
  • Communication assistance
  • Emergency responses
  • Pet care

While not everyone will require long-term care services, the older an individual is, the more likely the need is. Accidents and chronic illnesses can also result in the need for long-term care. It’s also important to note that, because women have slightly longer lifespans, they generally require care for longer than men do.

In most cases, long-term care services are provided by one of the following:

  • Unpaid caregivers (often family members or friends)
  • In-home nurses
  • Adult day care programs and centers
  • Long-term care facilities

The majority of long-term care is provided by family members, partners, or friends. In fact, approximately 80 percent of in-home caregivers are unpaid. The United States Department of Health and Human Resources reports that one in four adults were providing some form of long-term care to an adult or child in their family in 2009.

Despite the majority of long-term care being provided by close family and friends, there is still a great need for professional caregivers and facility-based care programs. This includes nursing homes, assisted living facilities, board and care homes, and continuing care retirement communities. These facilities are generally managed and lead by a long-term care administrator who establishes and ensures adherence to healthcare standards, makes policy, and supervises staff members.

What is Long Term Care Administration?

long-term-care-1

Are you interested in a long-term care administration career? Sometimes referred to as nursing home or assisted living administration, long-term care administration is a complicated and multifaceted field. It’s ideal for individuals who want to provide elderly and disabled patients with a higher quality of living. This includes overseeing both medical and personal care to ensure a longer and happier life. Professional administrators often serve as the head of operations in all things, from finances, cleaning, and maintenance to admissions, food services, and nursing.

Education Needed

long-term-care-2

If you are interested in becoming a long-term care administrator you will need to complete the necessary educational requirements. Advanced degrees are generally necessary. While there are some associate-level degree options available, most employers want, at minimum, for candidates to have an undergraduate degree in health administration or a similar field. In fact, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration, over 65 percent of health administration employers list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement on job postings.

A bachelor’s degree, however, may not be enough to grant you access to many positions. The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration also reported that almost 12 percent of health administration employers require candidates have a graduate degree and far more than that prefer it. With this in mind, it’s important to carefully consider your educational options before committing to a single course of action.

Accreditation is another factor that warrants serious consideration. Some employers do not recognize a bachelor’s or master’s degree unless it is from an accredited institution. The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education are both generally considered acceptable. You can find a list of accredited colleges and universities by visiting either of these accreditation organization websites.

Bachelors Education

Depending on your specific situation, an associate’s degree may be a good place to begin your long-term care administration education. However, you should also plan to attain a bachelor’s degree in health administration, long-term care administration, or a related field. An undergraduate degree will qualify you for most entry-level positions.

There are numerous colleges and universities that offer undergraduate programs for people interested in long-term care administration. Because degree titles tend to vary, you should research each one thoroughly. Some relevant undergraduate degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Administration and Policy
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Health Services Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Health

Additionally, the following is a list of some of the most prominent undergraduate institutions:

  • Bowling Green State University
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Ohio University
  • University of Scranton at Jesuit University
  • Shawnee State University
  • University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • Western Kentucky University
  • San Diego State University

While programs vary, especially from state to state, most undergraduate degrees consist of at least 120 credit hours of coursework. Some colleges and universities exceed this, however. In most cases, bachelor degrees can be completed within four years. This timeframe may shorten or lengthen depending on your individual circumstances. If, for example, you have college credits from upper-level high school classes or have already earned an associate’s degree, some courses may be waived. On the other hand, if you want complete additional certificates or can only attend school part-time, it can take longer.

Course requirements will differ depending on the program type and title, but common educational topics for long-term care administrators include:

  • Introduction to Public Health
  • Long-Term Care Administration
  • Medical Terminology
  • Health Care Organization and Administration
  • Health Care Supervision
  • Nursing Facility Administration
  • Health Care Technology
  • Health Law, Regulation, and Ethics
  • Health and Aging
  • Introduction to the Aging Experience
  • Budget and Policy for Health Services Managers
  • Healthcare Search Design and Method
  • Quality and Patient Safety in Long-Term Care
  • Population Health Management
  • Healthcare Finance

Masters Education

A bachelor’s degree in health administration, long-term care administration, or a related field may be enough for entry-level positions, but a master’s degree is generally considered the field standard. You should plan to complete a graduate degree program if you intend to apply for upper-level administrative positions or want to make a higher salary.

There are many colleges and universities that offer graduate programs for people interested in long-term care administration. Because degree titles vary, you should research all of the potential options thoroughly. Some relevant graduate degrees include:

  • Master of Arts in Health Care Administration
  • Master of Business Administration in Health Administration
  • Master of Science in Health Care Administration
  • Master of Science in Health Services
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Public Administration in Health Policy and Management

The following is a list of some of the most prominent institutions with applicable graduate degree programs:

  • Bowling Green State University
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Ohio University
  • Shawnee State University
  • University of Scranton at Jesuit University
  • University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • Western Kentucky University
  • San Diego State University

While programs vary, especially from state to state, most graduate degrees consist of at least 30 credit hours of coursework. Some colleges and universities exceed this, however. It’s not uncommon for programs to require as many as 60 credit hours of coursework. In most cases, master’s degrees can be completed within two years. This timeframe may shorten or lengthen depending on your individual circumstances. If, for example, you have extensive professional experience as a long-term care administrator, some courses may be waived. If, on the other hand, you are currently working and can only take courses part-time, it can take longer to finish.

Course requirements will differ depending on the program type and title, but common educational topics for long-term care administrators include:

  • Public Administration Theory and Behavior
  • Health Care Financial Management
  • Administrative Issues
  • Personnel Management and Leadership
  • Health Care Statistics and Research Methods
  • Health Care IT Management
  • Budgeting, Fiscal Policy, and Decision-Making
  • Health Services and Systems
  • Health Care Operations and Quality
  • Public Administration and Public Policy
  • Health Care Organization and Administration

Certification or Continuing Education

long-term-care-3

In addition to completing an undergraduate and graduate degree program, you will also need to apply for a state license. All states, and the District of Columbia, require long-term care administrators to be licensed. Each state has its own credentialing process and requirements. In many cases, candidates must meet educational standards, complete an internship, and pass a licensing examination.

While some states choose to offer their own exam, many choose to partner with the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB). NAB offers a Nursing Home Administrator Exam (NHA), which consists of a 100-item Core of Knowledge exam and a 50-item Line of Service exam.

Once you’ve attained your license, you will also need to continue your education. Most states require long-term care administrators to renew their license regularly. All but five states include continuing education as a renewal requirement. There are many organizations and programs that provide continuing education in the healthcare field, including NAB. Because every state is a little different, it’s very important that you familiarize yourself with your state’s specific standards after receiving your license.

Possible Job Titles and Roles

Long-term care administrators may not always be identified by this title. In fact, professionals in this field may have a wide variety of titles. Some of the most common include:

  • Administrator
  • Executive Director
  • Director of Nursing Services
  • Long-Term Care Administrator
  • Assistant Long-Term Care Administrator
  • Director of Long-Term Care
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Assisted Living Administrator
  • Assisted Living Manager
  • Vice President of Health and Wellness

Additionally, every long-term care facility is a little different and staff responsibilities vary greatly depending on size and patient type. As such, long-term care administrators may be expected to perform any and all of the following:

  • Daily facility operations
  • Financial planning
  • Staff management and leadership
  • Policy creation and enforcement
  • Staff hiring, training, evaluating, and retention
  • Patient care
  • Public education
  • Marketing
  • Disease and pharmaceutical control
  • Compliance with regulations and legislation
  • Patient rights protection
  • Needs assessment

Salary and Career Outlook

long-term-care-5

Overall, most long-term care administrators receive a competitive salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers made an estimated average salary of $111,680 in 2017. Nursing care facilities and home health care services account for a significant amount of health administrator employment, but the industry does fall slightly below the above-mentioned average. These facilities tend to pay an average annual wage between $92,750 and $99,220.

The states that pay medical and health services managers the most include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Maryland
  • Rhode Island
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • District of Columbia

Job outlook for long-term care administrators is also promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently predicted that there will be a significant increase in the number of medical and health services manager positions in the United States. In fact, that demand for these professionals is estimated to increase 20 percent between the years 2016 and 2026. This rate of growth is considered much faster than the average for other professions.

While there are many contributing factors responsible for this predicted increase, the most likely reason is the aging of the baby-boomers. This generation makes up a huge portion of today’s population. As they age, the demand for quality long-term care services will undoubtedly increase. To accommodate this demand, the healthcare industry will need to hire additional physicians and nurses, as well as open more practices to house them. Correspondingly, it will be necessary to find additional long-term care administrators to oversee, organize, and manage the new staff, services, and facilities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also asserts that job outlook is particularly good for medical and health services managers who have a graduate degree and have experience with electronic health records, health information technology, and informatics systems.