The 31 People You Will Meet in a Senior Living Community
In truth, there are so many different types of roles and responsibilities within each type of senior living community, it can be difficult to know what to expect, and who to turn to when you need something.
Read the descriptions of some of the staff that you’ll encounter and the role they may play in your parent or senior’s life:
Before you even start searching for a senior living community, you may encounter a care manager (also referred to as aging care managers, elder care managers or geriatric care managers). The role of a care manager is to help an at-home family caregiver (or a family living near or far from a senior), find the right services and act as a guide through the maze of available care providers and services.
The staff in a senior living community are often more like family to residents. These are the people who see residents on a daily basis, and their job is to foster a sense of community and ensure their happiness and well-being:
Activity coordinator: Sometimes called the activity assistant, their job is to develop and implement a recreation program that meets resident interest and needs, while being fun and engaging.
Activity director: Activity directors are responsible for keeping residents active and engaged. To do this they plan, implement and monitor recreation and wellness programs to meet the specific interests of residents. The activity director is often responsible for coordinating transportation and managing volunteers as well.
Dining services team: Includes chefs, dining services director, hosts and hostesses, servers, etc. These staff become part of the daily lives of community residents.
Driver: Drivers provide transportation services for residents to appointments, community activities and errands. Drivers get to know residents’ habits, preferences and routines, and are an important part of the senior living community.
Health and wellness director: Sometimes the health and wellness director is a nurse, but not always. Their job is to assess the physical and social needs of residents and coordinate with staff to ensure the senior living community is providing the best care experience.
Housekeeper: More than just cleaning or tidying rooms, housekeepers bond with residents and shape their environment and experience.
Maintenance team: The maintenance team maintains and repairs the buildings and grounds in the community, and as a familiar face they often form meaningful friendships with residents.
Memory care program director: Communities with memory care services often have a program director who designs and implements memory care activities that are meant to meet the unique needs of each memory care resident.
Personalized living assistant: In addition to helping residents bathe, dress, groom and take medication, the personalized living assistant often helps residents get to and from scheduled activities and meals. They’re usually responsible for ensuring that seniors needs are met and that they have companionship, independence and support (but also assistance when needed).
Resident care provider: Residents often form strong bonds with their resident care provider, who should offer compassion, emotional support and respect when they serve meals and help residents groom, dress and look their best.
Health Care Staff
Health care staff are arguably one of the most important in a senior living community, but also the most confusing for residents and seniors. The confusion lies in the many different types of staff out there (each one with a specialized role). Here are some common types of health care and nursing* staff to look out for:
Certified medication aide: Sometimes called a certified medication technician, their job is to administer medication and treatments according to the health care provider’s orders. This may include supervising residents who self-administer medication, which is sometimes required depending on the senior living community and state regulatory guidelines. Certified medication aides also maintain records including reporting changes in a resident’s physical behavior or condition, their leisure activities, and any general incidents or observations as they occur.
Certified nursing assistant: A nursing assistant helps residents with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, grooming and toileting. They may also be responsible for serving meals to residents and recording and reporting changes in eating habits.
Clinical care coordinator: The clinical care coordinator is a nurse who is responsible for ensuring that each resident’s personal service needs are met.
Director of clinical services: The director of clinical services is often a registered nurse (RN) who is responsible for overseeing all the other nurses, medical records and ensure that residents are properly cared for.