There's a Nurse in the House: The Importance of the Role of Nursing in Assisted Living

Sunrise Senior Living  |  May 6, 2016

In honor of National Nurses Week, we recently sat down with Juli Navarette, director of Clinical Practice & Education at Sunrise. We asked Juli a few questions about the critical role of nurses in assisted living communities and how they are trained to serve the unique needs of each resident.

Prior to joining the Sunrise team, Juli served as a regional director overseeing resident care in 15 assisted living communities and as a clinical practice consultant for the provision of evidence-based nursing practice in the ambulatory care setting with focus on quality, patient safety, process improvement and compliance with jurisdictional regulatory requirements. 

Q: Can you describe the importance of the role of nursing in assisted living communities?

A: First of all, assisted living is the fastest growing type of senior housing in the United States. Because this type of housing is becoming so prevalent, understanding the role of nurses within these communities is critical. The presence of nurses in assisted living increases the likelihood that residents will be able to age in place and maintain a meaningful quality of life.

Q: In your opinion, how does assisted living nursing differ from other types of nursing?

A: Assisted living nursing is shaped by the science and theories of aging, which guide the nurses’ practice.

At Sunrise, our nurses establish a relationship with each resident and provide care in a comforting, home-like environment.  We perform assessments in resident’s homes or the homes of their families, at hospitals or in long-term care centers.

Q: How do certain assisted living nursing responsibilities contribute to residents’ quality of life?

A: There are so many nursing activities that promote positive health outcomes for assisted living residents. To name a few:

  1. Assisted living nurses administer resident assessments, create service plans for each resident, develop meaningful interventions and constantly evaluate the effectiveness of each resident’s care plan. At Sunrise, each resident receives an Individual Service Plan (ISP) based on the resident’s interests, needs and wishes, which is used to accommodate a resident’s personal preferences and is updated as needs change. Assisted living nurses are expected to teach and guide care managers (nursing assistants) to promote optimal resident health.
  2. Assisted living nurses monitor the status of chronic illnesses, including early observation of and intervention for any change in health status.
  3. Assisted living nurses are responsible for residents’ medication management.
  4. The coordination of care with external providers (such as home healthcare, hospice and therapy providers) and physicians is an assisted living nurse’s job.
  5. Assisted living nurses are in charge of the education of residents and families on disease and management of chronic illnesses and conditions.

Q: Do you think it’s accurate to say that assisted living nurses have to juggle multiple roles?

A: Yes, they do! Assisted living nurses often function in a dual role: administrator and coordinator of resident health and wellness.

At Sunrise, our team members rely upon one another to provide the best care possible. Assisted living nurses collaborate closely with our wonderful assisted living coordinators, reminiscence coordinators, care managers and other community team members to perform a comprehensive assessment and develop a meaningful ISP. It takes a team to provide great resident care!

Q: With your long career and extensive experience in the field of nursing, can you use one or two words to describe the job of an assisted living nurse?

A: Challenging - but so rewarding!

Q: Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a nurse, I would be a ___________.”

A: Teacher. I love kids as much as I love seniors!

In honor of #NursesWeek, Sunrise celebrates our nurses (whom we consider to be teachers!) and all that they do to champion the quality of life for all seniors. Read more about our nurses at here.

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