How Important Are Licensed Nurses for Assisted Living and Memory Care?

Courtesy Koelsch Senior Communities

Assisted living and memory care communities are designed to promote aging in place by supporting independence and quality of life. The care provided by licensed nurses is often essential for achieving these goals. This kind of nursing care is critical for high quality resident care. A nurse on-site 24 hours a day on every day of the week can save lives and decrease visits to the emergency room.

The role of a licensed nurse is diverse and includes such responsibilities as providing comprehensive nursing assessments, medication management, care planning, educating and training, monitoring sensitive healthcare markers, and developing interventions to preserve resident safety and dignity. They often serve as healthcare liaison––coordinating care between a resident, the resident’s physician, the resident’s family, and care staff.

When medical needs in the elderly are assessed early, treatment can be started promptly and serious health crises are often avoided. Additionally, the scope of practice for a licensed nurse versus a med-tech or med-aid allows them to quickly process physician orders over the telephone and implement immediately rather than waiting for the signed physician orders to arrive. As a result, residents receive treatment earlier and can return back to a healthier state. It also gives the community an opportunity to evaluate falls before sending a resident to an emergency room, possibly preventing an unnecessary emergency room visit. This collaboration and communication between the physician and nurse allows for a quick resolution to immediate medical needs.

When researching an assisted living or memory care community for your loved one, the following questions are helpful in determining the extent of nursing care the community offers:

  • Is there a nurse?
  • What are the hours the nurse is available? Is there more than one nurse on staff? During what hours?
  • Who oversees the care plan and changes to the resident’s care plan?
  • Who gives the medication? Is the medication administered by a licensed nurse, med-aid or med-tech?
  • Who assesses the resident for change in condition, behavior or routine?

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