better assisted living manager

4 Powerful Tips for Becoming a Better Assisted Living Manager

Every administrator guiding a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE)  in California has a unique story. Whether you first became involved with caregiving while helping a special relative or working at a local RCFE, making a difference in the lives of seniors is often a motivating factor for obtaining assisted living administrator certification

One thing almost all administrators have in common, however, is a desire to keep progressing and become better at their job.

assisted living manager training tips

As you carry out daily duties in your facility, it soon becomes apparent that improving your performance as an administrator affects many other people and your career. 

Not only are you responsible for the safety and well-being of the residents, but you also influence the lives of your employees, communicate with the families who’ve entrusted loved ones to your care, and interact daily with vendors and state regulators. 

This article dives into some effective actions you can take to enhance the operation of your RCFE and make living, working, and visiting in the facility more satisfying for residents, employees and families.

Assisted Living Administrator Certification Sets the Bar

The Adult and Senior Care Licensing Program of the California Department of Social Services is responsible for the certification of RCFE administrators and for issuing a California RCFE license for assisted living facilities. 

As part of the certification process for administrators, candidates must complete an 80-hour assisted living administrator certification class from a DSS approved vendor and pass the California Initial RCFE Administrator exam.

California initial RCFE exam

When you decide to pursue administrator certification, the topics and discussions covered in the certification class will give you a sound foundation for performing your duties. You  will learn the required skills for operating an RCFE as a business: caring for the residents in your facility, understanding the California laws governing assisted living facilities, and studying the state-required Core of Knowledge. As you strive to enhance your administrative skills, you can build on this information.

Effective Tips Require Effort

These strategies involve more than easy ideas such as starting a book club for residents or putting out a suggestion box. They take some time, planning, and commitment to carry out. Since running an RCFE is both a mission and a business, these methods can help you work on soft skills, such as understanding your residents’ needs, as well as hard skills, including budget creation and employee retention.

1. Build a Support System to Help Your Personal Growth

Each administrator’s support system looks different, but identifying others in the field who can answer your questions, advise you on best practices when you hit a snag, and encourage you to keep going despite setbacks definitely boosts your performance.

RCFE Administrator support system


Although you’ll want to rely on some colleagues who have more experience and knowledge than you, cultivate friendships with others who are in a similar situation and can empathize with your frustrations and struggles. 

You can build supportive relationships with co-workers in many areas of the assisted living field:

  • Instructors and fellow students from your assisted living courses 
  • Administrators in other assisted living facilities nearby or online
  • Contacts in the California Department of Social Services
  • Administrators who work under you, such as the activities director
  • Provider Membership in the California Assisted Living Association

2. Polish Your Communication Skills

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively with various groups of people is vital to your work as the administrator of your assisted living facility. 

You need to build rapport and learn about the needs of your residents and their families, the employees who run the facility, state regulators who keep tabs on your operation, and vendors who are critical in furnishing supplies to keep your RCFE running smoothly.

communication skills for RCFE administrators

Good communication encompasses skills in several important areas:

  • Listening: The most important part of communicating with residents and others involves taking time to focus and to listen to what they are saying.
  • Empathizing: It can become a challenge to put yourself in someone else’s place, especially if you have never experienced what they are going through. Don’t jump to conclusions about what the other person is thinking and feeling, but ask questions to clarify what the individual is experiencing.
  • Soliciting Input: When you listen to stakeholders’ ideas about a situation, you show respect and empower them. This can become a critical component of creating a positive workplace and retaining employees.

3. Lead by Example

Few things turn employees off faster than administrators who make a big deal of implementing a new directive but never follow it themselves. Your employees are watching closely to see if you do what you tell them to do. They respect and support a leader who walks the talk.

When you set an example of living up to the values you promote for your facility, you show trustworthiness. You demonstrate you are serious about the vision you advance, and this builds a desirable work culture and boosts morale. 

Bonus: your leadership skills will attract new employees to your RCFE.

4. Prepare for Emergencies with Alternative Plans

Any administrator who takes steps to open an assisted living facility and obtain a California RCFE license must comprehend the need to create contingency plans for all possible emergencies.

emergency disaster plan at an RCFE

Few situations challenge the abilities of an administrator more than an unexpected crisis. If you want to become a better-assisted living administrator, have an emergency disaster plan in place for any situation that could arise:

  • Critical staffing shortages
  • The outbreak of a contagious illness
  • Interruption of power supplies
  • Severe supply chain issues

Work with your staff and other resources to develop a detailed plan for each situation. Once the process is in place, initiate training for employees and residents. Coordinate teams to work together as necessary and set up a clear communication process.

Don’t forget to contact colleagues in your support system if you have questions or need any advice to work out emergency plans. You may also want to choose online assisted living administrator CEU classes that can help you plan.

Assisted Living Administrator Certification is Just the Start

At Assisted Living Education, we provide the classes and tools to get you on the way to success. Whether you need help with your assisted living certification, obtaining a California RCFE license, or have other online assisted living administrator needs, contact us now to learn how we can assist you.

About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.