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Retirement Community Provides Job Options in Healthcare

If you are interested in working in North Carolina's ever-growing healthcare industry, you have many career path options. Many healthcare workers and administrators in North Carolina are employed by traditional healthcare facilities and providers, such as hospitals and physician's offices. But, interestingly, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reports that 16 percent of healthcare jobs in North Carolina are rooted in nursing and community care centers. Home health care services account for another 11 percent of the state's healthcare workforce. Taken together, these two healthcare industry sectors actually employ more people than hospitals.

These segments of the healthcare industry are rapidly growing, in large measure due to the continued growth in the state-wide retirement industry sector. Senior care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, employ healthcare workers of all sorts, as do home health care organizations. As healthcare services for the aging population expand, more senior living facilities and home care services are being developed to provide appropriate levels of assistance and maximize independence for those in their care. In terms of healthcare employment, this results in a wealth of job opportunities and job growth.

For instance, the development of numerous, diversified retirement communities and home health care providers require an increasing number of qualified administrators. Those who wish to fill these positions, a foundation of knowledge in business and organizational management as well as the healthcare industry. Accordingly, programs such as the University of North Carolina Wilmington's (UNCW) online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Specialization in Healthcare Management have been designed to address the complex intersection of business and healthcare.

What Has Led to Such Growth in This Area of the Healthcare Industry?

In North Carolina, and America at large, the population is aging. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, almost 16 percent of North Carolinians are 65 years old and over. And this statistic is projected to grow rapidly. As reported by North Carolina Health News, data from the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management suggests that by 2025 people 60 and older will outnumber those 17 and under in 90 North Carolina counties. Further, 20 percent of North Carolinians will likely be 65 and older by the year 2030. As the population ages, the need for adequate senior care and residential facilities also grows.

What Are Some Differences In Senior Care and Housing?

The types of senior care and housing vary by the type of facility or service:

  • Nursing homes provide services to two distinctly different populations. First is short-term rehab services for patients who recently suffered an acute incident followed by hospital treatment for conditions such as joint replacement or stroke. Also called post-acute care, these patients usually spend a few weeks receiving intense in-patient physical therapy and other services to get better and go home.  Second is conventional long-term care for medically complex patients that need nurses and nurse aids nearby at all times.  Nursing homes often have the feel of residential hospitals.
  • Assisted living communities provide assistance with the standard activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, and toileting/incontinence care. But, they are generally not licensed or staffed to provide medical services.
  • Home care health services provide care to people in their own homes as necessary, given the environment and equipment available.

What Types of Jobs Are Available in These Forms of Senior Care?

According to the degree of advanced medical care that is necessary, nursing homes employ more staff, including nurses, nurse aids, physical therapists, and others.  Assisted living facilities employ trained caregivers with a limited number of nurses.  In most states, assisted living facilities are not licensed to provide more than basic medical care.   More advanced medical services are generally provided as needed by home health companies.  Home health care services employ nurses, nurse aids, physical therapists, and other specialists for at home care.

In the event more advanced medical conditions arise, residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities or those who receive in-home care may be taken to nursing homes or hospitals where more advanced medical resources and technologies are available.

Senior living facilities that embrace and encourage the more active, independent nature of the aging population are becoming prolific. These facilities offer varying levels of assistance to residents according to their needs, from semi-assisted to fully independent living environments.  Some retirement communities offer several levels of living environments on one campus.  Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) provide active healthy seniors attractive apartment homes with extensive restaurant, wellness, entertainment, and other amenities and services.  As the residents advance in years and care needs, these CCRC’s have assisted living, nursing home, and often Alzheimer’s in-patient care.

Of course, these varying forms of senior care providers and retirement communities employ many other kinds of healthcare professionals, from occupational therapists to activities directors to health information technology specialists. And, as noted above, the proliferation of senior care services and facilities has spurred the need for more business-savvy professionals such as marketing directors, health service managers, and organizational administrators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for medical and health services managers is much faster than average, projected at 20 percent growth between 2016 and 2026. This includes the need for more nursing care facility administrators as well as managers with an advanced training in health information systems and informatics.

Retirement communities, assisted living communities, nursing homes and home health care services are adapting to the needs of the aging population. The broader healthcare industry is booming as well. This development in the healthcare industry is providing numerous opportunities for well-trained healthcare managers.

Learn more about UNCW's online Executive MBA with a Specialization in Healthcare Management program.


United States Census Bureau: QuickFacts North Carolina 2017 All Healthcare Industries in North Carolina

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Health Services Managers

North Carolina Health News: NC's Older Population Burgeons, While Services Lag, Legislators Hear at Panel

Career Trend: Jobs & Salary for an Assisted Living Executive Director

The Charlotte Observer: We Need to Protect NC's Growing Senior Population

A Place for Mom: Assisted Living Job Titles

Five Star Senior Living: What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home?

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