As of 2014, there were 15,600 nursing homes in the U.S. caring for 1.4 million residents. Those numbers are higher today and will continue to grow as more and more members of the Baby Boomer generation live well into their 90s, an age at which the majority will require some form of assistive care. Long Term care (LTC) facilities that are committed to providing high quality, compassionate and professional care. Their residents rely on the strong leadership of administrators and nursing directors.
Continuing education and certifications are crucial to developing effective leaders who can hire and nurture qualified staff, ensure that patients are receiving excellent care, and maintain compliance with federal and state regulations.
The Need For High-Quality LTC Leadership
The need for excellent leaders in Long Term Care facilities cannot be overstated, as high-quality leadership correlates strongly with overall performance and quality of patient care. Strong leaders not only solve problems and accomplish goals, but they also establish norms for interactions among staff members and between residents and staff. Moreover, facilities function better when staff members respect their leaders and see them as representing the values of the organization. Because many staff members in long-term care facilities do a challenging job, and become very emotionally connected with their patients, a positive work environment and rewarding interactions can increase their loyalty and reduce turnover.
Unique Challenges For LTC Administrators And Nursing Directors
Long Term Care and Nursing Home Administrators (NHAs) and Directors face some challenges that are unique to the field of LTC. For one thing, leadership must exercise compassion at all times in dealing with residents and their family members and making decisions that will affect them. However, governing boards usually don’t interact with patients and may not understand the leaders’ concerns; thus, Administrators and Nursing Directors must be able to navigate competing interests. Furthermore, a Long Term Care facility is a highly regulated environment, and Administrators and Nursing Directors (DONs and ADONs) have a responsibility to ensure the facility is in compliance at all times. Another challenge is the fact that much of the staff is can be subject to a high turn-over rate, for a variety of reasons. In order to be prepared to meet these challenges, strong leaders need experience and wisdom along with the appropriate educational preparation in order to demonstrate effective leadership behaviors.
Behaviors Of Effective Leaders
There are several types of behaviors associated with effective leadership, and one is the ability to delegate authority to sub-ordinates. A strong leader focuses on planning and making sure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs rather than overseeing those jobs in detail. In addition, effective leaders relate well with their staff by listening to them, expressing appreciation for their work, and making sure they have all the information they need. An effective leader is open to the concerns of staff members. Finally, the best leaders encourage staff members to participate in decision-making, recognizing their expertise and encouraging them to have a stake in the organization. In doing this, a leader encourages the staff to share and work toward common goals and prevents them from feeling that changes are imposed on them from above, which can lead to feelings of resentment and improve staff retention.
Skills Required For LTC Facility Administrators
Nursing Home and other LTC facility administrators must have or develop excellent communication skills, which ca n include conflict resolution, listening to concerns, and facilitating meetings. Interpersonal skills are crucial for building relationships, and as LTCs tend to have a flat organizational structure with many employees at the same level of hierarchy, administrators need to form relationships with as many staff members as possible. In addition, administrators need to be able to analyze information quickly and make policy decisions that are based on data and driven by established goals. Basic organizational skills are necessary for keeping records and remaining in compliance with regulations. Also, administrators need to be highly computer literate and able to manage electronic health records.
Skills Required For LTC Nursing Directors
After the Administrator, the Director of Nursing (DON) has the biggest leadership role in a long-term care facility. The DON is primarily responsible for overseeing patient care, and thus needs to have a high level of experience in and knowledge of geriatric health care in addition to other skills. First and foremost, a DON (or ADON) must have the ability to accurately assess a patient’s needs and determine whether the facility can meet those needs. Once a patient is admitted, assessment must be ongoing as the patient’s health and medications change. A nursing leader also needs to serve as a mentor to other patient care staff, and this requires the ability to recognize and nurture strengths in others and assign the right person to the right task. He or she also needs strong organizational skills to maintain records and track patient outcomes. Like a facility administrator, a DON must also be able to work with electronic health records.
Purposes Of Continuing Education For LTC Administrators And Nursing Directors
Ultimately, the purpose of continuing education is to ensure that professional leaders in long-term care facilities possess the skills they need to manage those facilities and lead their staff in providing the highest quality of care. Furthermore, continuing education is the best way for LTC leaders to update their knowledge and skills in a field that constantly changes as research sheds light on better methods of patient care and management of staff. Nursing Home Administrators (NHAs) and DONs must stay on top of the latest research, along with changes in regulations, standards of care, and technological advances. Another equally important purpose of continuing education for NHAs and DONs is to meet licensure requirements. Each year, administrators and nursing directors are required to complete a certain number of hours of continuing education, a number that varies by state. Courses should be offered by approved providers and should be applicable to the learner’s field.
Continuing Education Courses For Nursing Home Administrators
Courses for Nursing Home Administrators cover a wide range of topics related to patient care, legal issues, Medicaid, federal regulations, communication, technology, and staff management. For example, administrators can take courses to help them understand and communicate with residents who have Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Other typical courses include fall prevention, privacy of healthcare information, federal regulations for LTCs, and workplace ethics, to name a few. Courses for Administrators are designed to help them increase their management skills, work more effectively with patients and staff, comply with OSHA and other federal regulations, and better protect the interests of their residents and staff.
Continuing Education Courses For Directors of Nursing
The majority of courses for Nursing Directors are focused on patient care topics, such as caring for diabetes-related problems, responding to a stroke, pain management, cancer care for the elderly, and of course, dementia care, to name a few. As the number of people over the age of 85 continues to grow, so does the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Thus, Nursing Directors in particular need to be aware of the latest findings and recommendations for managing dementia symptoms in addition to other health concern that are prevalent in the elderly population. Nursing directors can also take many courses related to other aspects of their job, such as communicating with families, working with diverse populations, and managing unskilled staff.
Where To Find Continuing Education Courses
Fortunately for busy professionals, there are many continuing education courses available online, some with downloadable video and other content and others provided live through video conferencing software. The benefits of e-learning include the opportunity to access the course 24/7 and to work at one’s own pace. Many providers offer an extensive menu of approved courses, often with an unlimited number of credit hours for a single price per year. Some course providers offer a discount to members, and employers may cover all or a portion of course fees.
Benefits Of Continuing Education For LTC Professionals
Nursing Directors and Administrators benefit from continuing education in several ways. First of all, it not only allows them to keep their jobs, but it helps them to grow in their careers. The right courses can provide a stepping stone into a supervisory position for a prospective administrator or nursing leader or fill gaps in prior education. Ongoing education also builds confidence in leaders who gain the skills they need to perform their jobs well and knowledge about best practices they can impart to other staff members. Through well-designed and appropriate professional development courses, LTC facility leaders can continually improve not only their own job performance but the overall level of care provided by their facility.
Through continuing education, Long Term Care Administrators and Nursing Directors can gain skills, knowledge, and insights to provide excellent care and a highly functional working environment. Moreover, leaders can develop the ability to formulate a vision of excellence and lead their team in pursuing it. With top quality leadership that maintains their knowledge of best practices and regulations through continuing education, LTCs and Nursing Homes are able to provide the kind of care that earns a good reputation in the community and guarantees referrals from satisfied residents and their families.
At 360 Healthcare Staffing, we are very proud of our relationship with Relias Learning that provides Long Term Care and Nursing Home clinical staff with continuing education and preparation for a variety of certifications that enhance careers and enable upward mobility for our staff. Most importantly, an educated, engaged Nurse or Administrator results in better patient care.
Contact a Recruiter or Account Executive today to learn about how you or your teams can take advantage of this phenomenal benefit.