In 2004 it was estimated that there were just over 16,000 nursing homes in America with over 1.5 million patients. As more Americans are living longer, the elderly population is increasing, and this has led to an increase in nursing home jobs. The jobs available are varied, and the level of responsibility will depend on whether the home provides 24 hour care, or is an independent living facility.
The nursing home population has also faced an increase due to the growing tendency for hospitals to discharge patients as early as possible. This has resulted in some patients being discharged who require further care. Nursing homes are able to provide the kind of care these patients need and consequently, this has lead to a rise in admissions at some facilities, and created more job openings.
The nursing home jobs available can be categorized as being non-clinical and clinical. The non-clinical staff members are those who do not necessarily work very closely residents. They will have some interaction with them, but not on the level experienced by the clinical staff members. This category would include housekeepers, food service workers, and office staff, among others.
On the other hand, the clinical staff is intimately involved in the care of residents. There are several positions in this category, including registered nurses (RNs). RNs are responsible for the overall nursing care of residents, which includes supervision of practical nurses and nursing assistants. They are able to assess the medical condition of patients and devise treatment plans. In addition, they also have numerous administrative tasks.
Certified nursing assistants are another very important part of the clinical group. They are usually responsible for feeding, bathing, and grooming patients, and basically assisting them with daily tasks. They work in conjunction with a supervising nurse.
Physical and occupational therapists have an important role to play in the health of the elderly in nursing facilities. Therapists normally provide individual treatment involving bed exercises, gait training, and ambulation. However, they also provide general group exercises for patients. Physical therapy treatment has been able to improve the functional capabilities of many patients, who had previously suffered from physical handicaps.
Practical nurses are also clinical staff members. There role with patients is also “hand on” and they also have to interact with the friends and family members of residents. As is the case with other clinical staff, they are usually approached by family members who have complaints and concerns. Because of this, clinical staff; especially those at the senior level, are expected to have good communication skills, and exhibit high standards of professionalism.
As was stated at the outset, the elderly population is increasing rapidly, therefore it is expected that the forecast for nursing home jobs will remain very bright for several years to come. It 2008 it was projected that between the years 2008 to 2018, there will be a 19% growth in clinical jobs available in nursing homes. This is quite substantial, and offers opportunities for those who have the compassion and patience it requires to work with the elderly.