Working in a Care Home

Nurses and Care Support Workers play the key roles in nursing homes. They plan patient care from medicines to therapy to diet. They provide the care (or make sure other staff members provide it) and evaluate the patient’s progress and make changes as needed. Because nurses must care for several patients simultaneously and a patient’s condition may change suddenly, the job can be stressful.

Nurses are responsible for the care for all the patients assigned to them. Generally, the nurse is assigned a group of patients each day. For that group, the nurse must monitor vital signs, pass medications, change dressings, check the status of wounds, attend patient care-plan meetings, oversee nurse aides, administer enemas and start intravenous (IV) medications and fluids. They may also counsel families, conduct range-of-motion exercises and provide other personal hygiene care, depending on nursing assistant staffing levels.

The number of patients varies according to the size of the facility and the type of shift. Generally, midnight shift nurses will be responsible for more patients as most of them sleep through the night and require little care.

Individuals who work in a nursing home should possess excellent interpersonal skills with a sincere desire to assist patients. Additional vital skills are patience, emotionally stability, dependability, confidentiality, the willingness to work well with others and the capability to perform repetitive daily tasks.

Individuals interested in working in a nursing home as a healthcare or administrative professional should have the desire to care for the elderly. Workers are required to be in overall good health and are normally subject to state mandated disease and drug testing. Those employed in nursing homes must pass a criminal background and it is mandatory that healthcare professionals are current with certifications and licensures. Nursing home personnel must undergo patient and personal safety training and must follow proper procedures when caring for patients at all times.

While many individuals who work at nursing homes are only required to care for elderly patients who may be sick; others may be responsible for the care of patients that could potentially harm them, such as patients with advanced states of Alzheimer. Nursing aides can encounter disoriented and uncooperative patients; and psychiatric aides should be prepared for violent behaviour from patients with serious mental illnesses.

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