What Are Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, and Why Are They Important?

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Approximately 10,000 U.S. citizens turn 65 each day, according to a recent article by CNBC. As they get older, individuals begin thinking about their long-term care, identifying which community resources and facilities they may need, such as at-home care, board homes, and assisted living facilities. However, until that time, many people may not know what nursing and residential care facilities are, and why they are important to their long-term health. Graduates with a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree are helping improve these facilities and the health outcomes of residents with their knowledge and experience of new long-term care models.

Responsibilities of Nursing and Residential Care Facility Administrators

Nursing and residential care facilities provide a range of health and personal services for aging individuals or people living with physical or mental conditions who need assistance. Typically, these patients do not need full-time hospital care but do require assistance with medications, completing laundry, physical mobility, and meal preparation.

Nursing and residential care facilities are important in that they provide a positive quality of life for people who are aging or have physical and mental conditions. Professionals with a Master of Health Administration (MHA) typically fill medical and health services management positions such as nursing home administrators or assisted living administrators.

Nursing home administrators oversee the management of a nursing facility, ensuring that a consistent quality of care is delivered to residents and coordinating work efficiently between departments. They also complete the facility budget with input from department leaders like clinical managers.

Assisted living administrators are responsible for the general operations of a facility, including admitting new residents, acting as a liaison between residents and family members, and hiring new employees. Assisted living administrators also oversee the facility’s operations budget. However, if they are part of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), they may only contribute part of the budget.

Types of Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

There are different types of care facilities depending on the needs of the resident, and MHA graduates may fill different roles depending on the facility where they work. While duties can differ slightly between roles and facilities, health care management executives are primarily responsible for influencing the “growth, development, or operations of a healthcare organization,” according to the American College of Healthcare Executives. Below is a breakdown of the different types of facilities.

● Nursing Homes
Nursing homes provide a wide range of medical and personal services to residents, including 24-hour supervision, prepared meals, and assistance with mobility issues. Rehabilitation services such as speech or physical therapy sessions may also be available.

Also known as skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes can provide medical care to individuals who have recently been released from the hospital but cannot move back home. Residents who have ongoing chronic conditions, such as dementia, may also live in nursing homes full time to receive the care they need.

● Assisted Living
Assisted living facilities provide another care option for people who do not require as much assistance as that provided in a nursing home. These facilities offer supervisory care similar to a nursing home’s care, with staff delivering meals, assisting with medications, and organizing social events. However, many of the residents have more independence than those in a nursing home and typically live in separate apartments or rooms.

● Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Continuing care retirement communities provide several care facilities all in one central location and assist people with a variety of needs. These facilities are designed to allow care to evolve along with the needs of residents, removing the stress of moving to different care facilities. Residents can live in and move between independent housing, assisted living apartments, and nursing homes, depending on the care they require.

● Board and Care Homes
Also known as residential care facilities or group homes, board and care homes are small facilities with 20 or fewer residents. These facilities do not provide nursing or medical care, but they do help residents with their daily personal care such as bathing, medication management, and dressing. These facilities are more home-like due to their small size and can provide a more comfortable environment for residents who are struggling with being away from home.

Resident-Focused Care

MHA graduates are improving how nursing and residential care facilities deliver care to their residents. Organizational culture change in nursing homes involves the deliberate transformation of the health care setting to focus more on the residents and less on the institutional space. Culture change in practice offers more choices to residents, placing a greater emphasis on an individual’s independence than on facility schedules and policies. In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the health outcomes of residents in nursing homes improved when the focus on care shifted to the resident and care workers were empowered to make suggestions for procedures, protocols, and the facility environment.

MHA coursework prepares graduates to administer this type of care by developing the leadership skills necessary to implement more modern policies that cater to residents’ personal needs. Facility leaders must also keep up with changing government regulations, incorporate advanced technology for better record keeping, and keep costs low through operational efficiency.

Employment Outlook

As the nation’s population continues to age, there will be a greater demand for long-term care services and qualified health care leaders. Between 2016 and 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical and health services managers, which includes nursing home administrators, will grow 20 percent, compared to the 7 percent national average. MHA graduates in the upcoming years will have many opportunities to lead their own health practices and develop new culture change policies to improve the lives of residents in long-term care.

Learn More

Graduates of Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration program are equipped with the skills to become successful leaders in a variety of health professions. Find more details about courses and future career options on Regis’ MHA program website.

Recommended Readings:

How to Become a Hospital Administrator

8 Health Administration Careers and Specialties

How Emotional Intelligence Can Make a Difference in Health Care




American College of Healthcare Executives


National Institute on Aging, “Choosing a Nursing Home”

National Institute on Aging, “Residential Facilities, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes”



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Nursing and Residential Care Facilities: NAICS 623”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “How to Become a Medical or Health Services Manager”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “What Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides Do”

Wiley Online Library, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society