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What Kinds of Nurses Work in Assisted Living?

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Nurses work in a variety of settings, one of which is assisted living. Unlike a skilled nursing facility, which provides complex nursing and rehabilitative services to people who have temporary or permanent health problems, an assisted living facility provides a lower level of care. Licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and advanced practice nurses might all work in or provide services to people in an assisted living facility.

Safety, Security and Assistance

An assisted living facility, as the name implies, is for people who cannot live independently. They may be seniors who cannot cook or manage a household any longer or younger people with mental or physical disabilities. Many need help ensuring they take their medications correctly or might need additional assistance with activities such as laundry. People in assisted living facilities might not be able to drive or take public transportation and need help in this area as well. Assisted living facilities typically provide meals and private living quarters for individuals or couples. Some also provide nursing services.

The Basics

Licensed practical nurses -- also called licensed vocational nurses in some states -- provide direct nursing care under the supervision of an RN or physician. LPNs complete a one-year training program and receive a diploma. They must be licensed in all states. An LPN in an assisted living facility might supervise patients who need help with their medications or assist them with medical needs, such as dressing changes, ambulation or other basic health care activities.

Planning and Coordination

RNs have a different scope of practice in comparison to LPNs. They have more education and may hold a specialty certification in a field that is specific to the needs of elders in an assisted living situation, such as gerontology. Some states, such as Idaho, also offer certificate programs on the role of the nurse in an assisted living facility. RNs in an assisted living facility might perform assessments of patients with chronic medical problems, such as diabetes, and develop a care plan to manage their condition. They may also administer medications or supervise unlicensed personnel who perform nursing tasks.

Managing Care

The nurse practitioner is another nurse who might be found in an assisted living facility. NPs have a scope of practice comparable to that of a physician and are most likely to fulfill the role of a primary care practitioner in an assisted living facility. The NP might prescribe medications, order lab and other diagnostic tests and manage medical problems to help the residents remain healthy enough to continue to live in the assisted living facility. NPs often have specialty experience, such as in mental health care.


Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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