Full Time RNs in Assisted Living: Why It Matters

nurse WW_coldweather.warmhearts.pngStaffing is always something to be considered when choosing an assisted living facility for your loved one. It’s not just about the number of people working in the facility at any given time. It’s about the credentials of the people who make up the staffing plan on a daily basis. Full time RNs in assisted living is a key element to consider. When choosing assisted living, you want to have the assurance that quality care is directed and provided under the direct supervision of qualified professionals such as Registered Nurses.

It’s essential to realize that not all assisted living communities have nurses — RNs or even LPNs— on staff.  Many facilities make the claim that there are “nurses on staff." However, take the time to ask more specific questions to determine what in fact that really means. 

Some facilities choose to work with an RN consultant to provide services on an “as needed” basis for the facility or employ RNs that take calls and answer questions by phone without ever seeing the residents.  Some have nurses that cover several different locations which may be miles apart. Others may utilize LPNs or caregivers on staff, but not necessarily RNs to make clinical decisions.  

Full Time RNs in Assisted Living: Why It Matters 

There are key benefits of choosing an assisted living facility with a full time RN on staff:

  • Continuity of Care:  RN leadership can build a team with residents, their families, their physician and other professionals, which leads to improved health and wellness. By being present and working full time in the facility, the nurse is able to get to know each resident on an individual basis and determine the best approaches to health issues. They have the time to really listen and respond to each resident and their family members.

  • Coordination of Care:  An RN on staff can improve access to health care providers such as therapies, pharmacist, podiatry, psychology/psychiatry, hospice and other specialists.

  • Quality of Care: Professional individual care plans prepared by an RN are designed to promote health, independence and quality of life. Anyone can write a service plan, but only a Registered Nurse can complete a comprehensive clinical assessment of a resident’s overall health status and devise a care plan specifically for that resident taking into account not only their individual needs but also their strengths and available resources.

  • Med Management:  An RN has the training to monitor meds for unintended side effects and review new meds for potential interactions. An RN can work closely with pharmacists and physicians to assure that medications are most effective.

  • Comprehensive Care Coordination: By working full time at the facility, the RN is able to directly monitor changes in resident’s health conditions. Observation and early intervention for even minor health concerns often means quicker recovery with fewer complications.

Questions To Ask When There is No Full Time RN on Staff

While you can find assisted living facilities without nurses on staff that provide good care, it is important to know that not all facilities have the same level of staffing. There is peace of mind in knowing that as health needs change, there are professional nurses on staff that are able to meet the needs of a loved one. When choosing an assisted living facility – important questions to ask about staffing with nurses:

  • Are the nurses employed by the facility or contracted as consultants?
  • Do they use RNs or LPNs for nurse coverage? How many hours of each are in the facility every day?
  • How many facilities do these nurses “cover” or work at one time?
  • What RN support is available when nurses aren’t on-site/in the building? Who’s “on-call” and makes clinical decisions?
  • Does this person just get called or do they go into the facility to see and assess the resident?

These aren’t the only questions you should ask when you visit an assisted living facility. If you’d like help understanding the differences between every assisted living facility that you visit, download our free guide: 10 Smart Questions You Should Ask Milwaukee Area Assisted Living Communities.