If you’re thinking of training for a new career in elder care, then you may be wondering what the upsides and downsides are. There are, on balance, more advantages and good points than bad, but it’s always best to look at both sides before you jump into anything, so here’s a quick review to help you to decide if working in a nursing home is right for you.
You’ll really get to know your residents – and their families
As your residents will be with you for a while, you’ll form very strong bonds with many of them and this almost always extends to their families. If you’re caring for the same person for months or years, they become part of your life and vice-versa. This is a very special bond indeed. Working in a hospital or an out-patient department doesn’t even come close!
You can learn (or improve on) pharmacology skills
Many residents in nursing homes take a variety of medications and as a carer you’ll have the opportunity to make sure they receive the right meds at the right dosages – an invaluable and transferable skill. If you have no nursing or care background, working as a carer will teach you other skills as well; even putting on and taking off disposable gloves involves proper technique!
You’ll be part of a team
You’ll be working alongside music therapists, cleaners, psychiatrists and other carers, all to keep your residents happy and healthy. There’s a unique camaraderie that can develop.
There’s lots of variety
Your residents will each have their own profiles and diagnoses, so you’ll see a lot of conditions and learn how to administer a lot of different treatments and therapies.
It’s less physically demanding than nursing
Sometimes you’ll spend a day or an afternoon simply talking to the residents rather than being rushed off your feet. These days are just as important as the ones where you’re “busy”, especially to the elders.
There are some drawbacks though.
Those strong bonds can hurt
The flipside of forming those bonds is painfully obvious – you’re looking after seniors and you will see their health declining, before the inevitable happens. It hurts to say goodbye to them – and to their families.
Nursing homes can have a bad reputation
There are some people who believe that nursing homes are where elder people sit around doing nothing at best, and are treated badly at worst. This just isn’t the case and you will find yourself explaining this to people frequently. You will also have to demonstrate this to new residents and their loved ones as well.
You won’t gain the medical experience you would in a hospital
You won’t gain as much medical experience as you would if you were a hospital nurse – there are some procedures that can only be performed by the trained medical staff on hand or in hospitals. If you’re looking to develop these skills, then training as a nurse may be a better option for you.
If you decide to go ahead and work in a nursing home, however, you will be helping to make the final years of your residents as healthy and happy as they can be; this can mean everything to people.