It is expected that, between now and 2050, the American population of people who are 65+ years old will double. There will be an estimated 83.7 million senior citizens residing in the U.S. and, while most families would rather care for their aging loved ones themselves, many people will end up living their later years in nursing homes. As a result, the demand for nursing home employees is expected to be incredibly high over the next several decades.
Source: Monkey Business Images/ shutterstock.com
If you enjoy caring for people and making a difference in their lives, working in a nursing home could be an excellent career choice for you. It’s important to note, though, that working in one of these facilities is different from working in other settings. The job is very rewarding but can also be stressful and physically and emotionally exhausting. Many nurses, though, can’t imagine working anywhere else.
Whether you have recently been hired at a long-term care facility and are unsure of what to expect or you are trying to decide whether becoming a nurse at a nursing home is the right option for you, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to working in a nursing home to help. Keep reading to learn more!
Working in a Nursing Home: What It’s Like
Most of the people who live in nursing homes are there for long-term care. Unlike a hospital where patients tend to come and go frequently, working at a nursing home often means caring for the same people for several months—or even years. As a nurse, you will be a part of a team that is dedicated to providing optimal care for residents and ensuring their comfort in the facility. All staff members work together to achieve the common goal of providing the best possible care.
You will get to know the residents and form relationships with them. This is one of the parts of the job that many nursing home employees love, but it can also be incredibly difficult. People often reside in nursing homes until they pass away and, when you’ve built strong relationships with residents, their death can feel like losing a family member.
Source: ALPA PROD/ shutterstock.com
If you think working in a nursing home is boring, think again! Many of the residents are still lively and exciting people. They may not be able to live in their own homes because of illnesses or injuries, but they are still human and still have the same personalities and interests they had in their younger years. Many residents love talking with other people and reminiscing about their lives. They enjoy talking about their families, listening to music and watching movies from their younger years, playing games, and much, much more. You may be surprised to discover just how fun and interesting many nursing home residents are.
Being a nurse is never an easy job, but working in a nursing home tends to be less physically demanding than, say, being an emergency room nurse. You will still spend most of your shift on your feet, but most days, things run pretty smoothly in nursing homes. You usually won’t have to spend your day running from one emergency to the next. Since you’ll mostly be working with the same patients on a daily basis, you’ll also get to avoid the mental strain of having to read and memorize new patient case files on a daily basis.
Expectations and Responsibilities
There are several different positions within nursing homes, so your exact responsibilities will vary depending on your specific job. Most nurses in long-term care facilities are required to wear scrubs when they go to work each day, and they are expected to keep them clean and sanitized. Depending on the rules where you work, you may have to wear scrubs in a certain color or style, or you may be able to choose whichever ones you like best. Nursing scrubs come in all sorts of brands, styles, and designs, so if the facility you work at allows you some freedom when choosing your workwear, it’s easy to find ones that you’ll love.
During a typical day, you will likely work with several other healthcare providers, including other nurses, doctors, physical therapists, dieticians, etc. You will need to know how to work well with other people, and you will be expected to deliver quality care with respect, dignity, and compassion at all times. Specific skills that you may be required to have or learn while working in a nursing home include patient care, treatment planning, hospice, case management, acute care, patient and family education, medical administration, patient evaluation, and advanced cardiac life support. You will also likely need to have some pharmaceutical knowledge and the ability to think and act quickly when a patient’s safety or well-being is at risk.
Source: GagliardiPhotography/ shutterstock.com
Nursing homes provide vital services for people who are no longer able to care for themselves due to age, illness, or disability. With the population of people who are over the age of 65 expected to double over the course of the next few decades, the demand for healthcare providers who are willing to work in these facilities is likely to increase exponentially. If you are a nurse or are thinking about becoming one, working in a nursing home could be an excellent career choice.
You’ll have the chance to make a real difference in peoples’ lives, and you’ll get to form meaningful relationships with people who really need your care and attention. Being a nurse in a nursing home is incredibly rewarding in so many ways. If you are getting ready to start working in a nursing home, order some comfortable scrubs, review your employee handbook, and get ready to embark on one of the most rewarding career paths imaginable!