It’s common for professionals, even well-educated and successful ones, to look for ways to improve their careers. Within the world of nursing, studying long term care administration represents just such an opportunity, and may serve as an appropriate evolution of a nurse’s skill set.
Long Term Care Defined
Long term care encompasses “a continuum of medical and social services designed to support the needs of people living with chronic health problems that affect their ability to perform everyday activities.” More specifically (and most commonly), long term care includes aiding with bathing, grooming, getting dressed, using the restroom, mobility, eating, transportation and more. The level of care is usually geared toward helping the recipient cope with their decreasing physical abilities. The typical recipients of long term care tend to have extensive medical issues, though the causes vary, such as with old age or terminal illness.
Several factors can increase the need for long term care in the future. According to an analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services, even when researchers controlled for other demographic factors, common variables exert some influence:
- Age: The need for long term care increases with age. Currently, there is a trend in the need for nursing home admittance being higher than the availability of assisted living.
- Ethnicity: African-Americans, for instance, have a lower risk than Caucasians for nursing home and assisted living care.
- Income: Having a lower income may increase the risk of nursing home care but has little influence over assisted living care.
- Family Structure: People who are not married and have no children are more likely to require long term care than those with immediate relatives.
- Geography: Individuals in rural areas have a greater risk for entering nursing homes than those in metropolitan areas, but geography does not significantly influence the rise for entering assisted living care.
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6 Types of Long Term Care: A Helicopter View
Within the scope of long term care, there are specific roles that cover different aspects of patient support. The six most prevalent types include:
- Home Care: Also referred to as “Home Health Care.” This type of long term care, as the name suggests, takes place in the recipients home. It includes assistance with daily living activities but might also incorporate nursing care to address the recipient’s specific ailment. While friends and family might provide this care in some cases, others opt for trained professionals to tend to their needs.
- Community Services: Community Services function like supplemental support services for those under home care. They provide primary caregivers with a break from the intense duty of providing near-constant assistance. These services might include things like adult day care, meal delivery and transportation.
- Supportive Housing Programs: These programs provide more affordable housing options to older individuals with lower incomes. Housing units at such facilities might come with additional perks, like housekeeping assistance and meal preparation.
- Assisted Living: These are home-like facilities that provide 24-hour care for their ailing residents. Services include assistance with all aspects of day-to-day living, along with organized social and recreational activities so that residents can maintain a sense of community and wellbeing.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities: These are combination facilities that provide care based on an individual’s needs over time. They might begin with independent living, then progress to assisted living or skilled nursing care as required.
- Nursing Homes: For individuals who can no longer live at home or in their communities, nursing homes offer daily assistance, skilled nursing, rehab and other forms of assistance under the watchful eye of specialty staff.
Where Long Term Care Administration Fits In
In many cases, having a master’s degree is a necessity for securing certain types of employment and commands significant benefits. A master’s degree isn’t the end-all-be-all for those looking to gain a competitive edge in some industries, however, and those who wish to specialize in very niche careers often benefit from further training. One example of this is the area of long term care, where voluntary post-master’s education makes for an ideal step in the right direction. An online post master’s certificate in long term care, for example, can help train prospective long term care professionals in the vital aspects of aging and chronic conditions, while imparting the skills required to manage or administer a long term care program.