Working in a Nursing Home

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The Baby Boomer generation and its parents continue to age at a rapid rate, and many must choose a nursing home for their elder care.  You may be interested in working in geriatrics and caring for those who call a nursing home their home.  Here is an overview of working in a nursing home:

Who lives in a nursing home?

There are nearly 1.5 millions residents in nursing homes today, and with the continued aging of the Boomer generation, that number will surely grow.  Most residents are female and over the age of 85.  Up to one third of nursing home residents are on Medicaid.  The one factor that all patients have in common is their need for round-the-clock care which you, as a nursing home employee, will be responsible to provide.

Who works in a nursing home?

The nursing home staff is varied across many fields.  From the receptionists, to administrators, to nurses, to doctors, to social workers and psychologists, to kitchen staff, even to religious representatives, a nursing home staff is composed of people who care for the physical, emotional, and social well-being of resident who are often at the end states of their lives.  Each member on the staff plays a crucial role in the care of the elderly who live in the nursing home.

Students and mentors outside Morogoro Hospital in TanzaniaWhat are the working conditions of a nursing home?

Work conditions in nursing homes vary, so when you interview for a staff position in one, you will want to make sure you request a comprehensive tour.  There have been numerous cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes, and you will want to be sure that yours is clean, safe, secure, well stocked, and well-kept.  If you suspect that the nursing home you’re interviewing with does not meet these standards, you will want to avoid employment there, and may need to consider making a report to the appropriate authorities.

Is working in a nursing home dangerous?

You might be surprised to learn that working in a nursing home is more dangerous than working in construction!  OSHA reports higher rates of injury and illness from nursing home workers than construction workers, miners, and even lumberjacks!  This is not to say that nursing home work will result in your personal injury, but be prepared for the dangers that are implicit in this type of work

How do I know if working in a nursing home is for me?

Working with the elderly takes a special temperament and demeanor. You must be compassionate and sensitive to the unique needs and concerns of your older patients.  You must not be easily frustrated or rattled.  You must be patient and tolerant when conditions are frantic and hectic.  Most importantly, you must understand that most patients are at the end stages of their lives, and your time with them will not be indefinite.  Death will come for all.  If you possess these personal qualities, you may find that working in a nursing home is the right place of employment for you. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.

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