The Reality of Working Long Term Care. Pros & Cons.

How many of us grew up dreaming about working in a nursing home. Otherwsie known as a long term care facility (LTC) or skilled nursing facility (SNF)? Probably very few of us. But how many of us, who happened to find ourselves working in a long-term care facility have considered it the best career move of all time? Probably most of us.

Hidden Rewards of Working in Long Term Care

Working in LTC is often over-looked by many. It also has just as many hidden rewards that will leave you feeling fulfilled and appreciated within your healthcare profession. Here’s why:

Make a Genuine Difference

The elderly, disabled and chronically ill folks that reside in LTC facilities often need help with some of the most basic facets of day-to-day life. This can be challenging not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

As their daily care giver, you’ll be able to help maintain (and at times restore) their dignity and sense of self by providing help in these areas.

Build Meaningful Relationships

It will be one of your primary responsibilities to help guide, educate and comfort your patient (and their families) many times throughout the course of the care that you provide.

You’ll likely turn those hours, days and years of working together into long-lasting and meaningful relationships. As you become not only one of their primary caregivers, you’ll also become their best advocate, and most trusted confidant.

Upgrade Your Own Life

How many of us have heard stories about the revelations people have at the end of their lives? It’s usually something profound like: “I never missed out on what I didn’t buy, but on what I didn’t experience.”

While working LTC, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to have these types of life changing conversations. These folks will have a completely different outlook on life. They might be at death’s door. They might be learning to cope with a life altering disability. Their stories and perspectives on life will have a profound effect on your own. 

Become More Experienced

The care provided for in LTCs is a bit different than say your standard hospital room. The care these patients need is much more complex. You’ll have the opportunity to work alongside not just physicians and pharmacists – but an entire interdisciplinary team.

This could include social workers, dietitians, speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and more. You’ll earn a little “know-how” from the different professions. You’ll also learn a bit more about improving patient outcomes with a multi-faceted approach to patient care. Something you will likely not find in any other type of healthcare setting.

Lifelong Job Security

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are experiencing a huge healthcare practitioner shortage. We’re also seeing increased populations in LTCs due to an aging baby-boomer generation.

LTCs aren’t going away anytime soon. The growing need for them will provide even more opportunities and stability for those seeking to grow within the profession.

In fact, the demand for nursing assistants & orderlies may grow by 8% by 2030. The demand for LPNs and RNs by 9%. In the healthcare field overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics projects 3.3 million new jobs will be added between 2018 and 2028.

Super Good Money

Not only will you have lifelong job security but the pay you’ll receive by working in LTC isn’t too shabby either. From CNAs who earn $28-$36K a year to LPNs who earn $48-56K a year to RNs who earn $65-82K a year – working in an LTC is not just rewarding – it’s lucrative.

Work Where You Live

Unlike large hospitals (which are primarily found in population dense areas) LTCs are located in every sized city and town imaginable. Whether you prefer to live in a rural, suburban, or metropolitan area – chances are there is an LTC located nearby.  Say goodbye to nightmarishly long commutes.

Slow Down Your Work Life

Short-term care facilities (hospitals, emergency clinics, etc.) are generally faced paced environments with a large influx of high stress, emergency situations. While emergencies do occur in LTC facilities, they don’t usually happen every single day.

LTC facilities are pretty slow-paced. This allows you to take the time to get to know your patients one-on-one. You can focus on their care and well-being in a relatively slow-paced, calm environment. 

Career Opportunity

Let’s say you’re not sold, and definitely do not want to work in LTC.  Instead, you’d prefer the fast-paced and exciting life of working in a huge hospital. The good news is many LTCs are part of major healthcare systems.

Are you a new graduate looking to get your foot in the door, but the major hospitals are turning you away? Working at one of their LTCs for a year or two might just be the upper you hand you need to land your dream job.

You’ll develop a fantastic skillset and be able to network with other caregivers within your chosen healthcare system.

The Downsides of Working in Long Term Care

There are some downsides to working in long term care (of course) and we’d be remiss to not mention them here. They include:

Physically Demanding

Patients in LTCs often need physical help getting from their bed to the bathroom, to the shower, and to their wheelchair. Assisting them in this way, several times a day, can be very physically taxing.

Breaks Are Hard to Take

Within all professions in healthcare, it can be difficult to find the time to take a 30 or even 15-minute break. This is due to the ever-demanding needs of patients who need round the clock care.

Grumpy Patients

Understandably some folks do not respond well to being bed-ridden 24/7, or stuck in an LTC facility with painful and chronic symptoms. These situations can sometimes translate to difficult patients who are the opposite of “a pleasure to work with.” These patients can be rude, demanding and at times down-right degrading.

Burnout is Real

Just like any healthcare profession, the burnout in LTC is real. Working with and around sick, dying, and depressed patients can take its toll both physically and emotionally.  

What Does it Take to Succeed in LTC?

Working in a long-term care facility is not for everyone. But if you’ve read this far – it may be just right for you!

If you consider yourself a resilient person, someone with a positive attitude, do not see death and dying as negatives, can focus on the positives (like enjoying the time you get to spend with patients before they pass away), have a strong support system (either at home, and/or within the LTC facility itself), have a solid self-care foundation, clear boundaries around how many hours you’ll work, are patient & kind and above all enjoy caring for people,  then this work is most definitely for you.

Reach out to Bequest Staffing Solutions to learn more about your new LTC career!

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