According to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, “the demand for professionals with expertise in long-term care is growing rapidly. The U.S. will need between 5.7 million and 6.5 million nurses, nurse aides, home health, and personal care workers to care for the 27 million Americans who will require long term care by 2050.”
Careers in Aging Week is a time to bring more attention and highlight the many career opportunities that are available now in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) and in the upcoming years. This blog will briefly explore the careers available, the duties of those roles, and educational requirements.
While the other departments in a SNF nurture the clinical and physical needs of residents, the Activity department helps to nourish their soul and sense of fun and adventure. Activity employees do more than just play Bingo (although Bingo remains popular for all age groups), help to plan and facilitate individual and group activities within the nursing home and out in the community.
Activities may help with painting projects, taking residents to community events such as parades or cookouts, sensory events, or even helping families plan special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. They may also help invite guests into the center to plan music or offer spiritual services.
People may begin a career in Activities by applying for a job and receive on the job training and receive certifications and training as they advance their career.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs):
Being a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a great career entry to health care and the long-term care profession. CNAs can receive free training and begin working in a skilled nursing facility quickly. They tend to the personal care needs of residents. They may help residents bathe, get dressed, eat, and assist with other activities of daily living.
A lot of individuals who have gone on to become nurses, directors of nursing or even nursing home administrators once began their career as a CNA.
The Dietary department prepares meals and ensures the residents nutritional needs are met. This not only includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but also snacks throughout the day. The Dietary department includes more than cooks, but aides that assist in cooking, preparation, and distribution of meals and snacks.
The Environmental or Housekeeping team members help to keep the center clean and safe for residents. These are typically entry-level positions but often grow into other career paths within the SNF. They often interact with residents in much different ways than the other departments and play a crucial role in the habits and likes and dislikes of the residents. For example, a housekeeper may notice a change in a resident’s schedule or demeanor and alert the nursing department to check on the resident.
Nursing (Register Nurses & Licensed Practical Nurses):
The American association of Colleges of Nursing reports that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2021-2031, the Registered Nursing (RN) workforce is expected to grow by 6% over the next decade. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 3.1 million in 2021 to 3.3 million in 2031, an increase of 195,400 nurses. The Bureau also projects 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031 when nurse retirements and workforce exits are factored into the number of nurses needed in the U.S.
There are many programs throughout the country for people interested in becoming a nurse. Both, two-year and four-year colleges offer nursing programs.
Social Workers are crucial to the resident and family as they make the transition to living and receiving care in a SNF. The social worker represents the wishes and well-being of the resident and the family. Social workers will have training and attended college to earn a social work degree. They will help residents and families to have all necessary paperwork and ensure incoming residents know what to expect while living in the nursing home. Social workers will also listen to and assist residents with any issues they may have during their stay receiving care. Additionally, they would assist residents who complete rehabilitation and are returning to home.
All SNFs have a full therapy department to help residents recover from an injury or illness. Physical, speech, and occupational therapists provide a variety of services to help residents achieve their goals of returning home or reaching their highest level of functioning possible. We will examine each of these therapy roles in more in an upcoming blog article.
SNFs typically have front offices with a reception area that may also include Marketing/Admission employees, Human Resources or Payroll Specialists, and a licensed Nursing Home Administrator (NHA). The NHA oversees the daily operations of the center, and may also have a background in nursing, social services, business administration or other fields.
This is a brief overview of some of the most common, but not a comprehensive list of all career paths. For more information, visit local SNF website, state, and federal resources on healthcare careers.
Author: Brandon S. Totten
Digital Media Coordinator, Kissito Healthcare