For people who have a passion for helping other people and want to make a positive difference to other people’s lives, there are a lot of potential career paths that you can choose from. Throughout people’s lives, from birth to death, many of us will need varying degrees of support and assistance. Even if you’re lucky enough to live independently for your whole life, you will no doubt know someone who is or has been dependent upon the support of professionals in order to thrive.
But while there is an endless procession of degrees and qualifications that will enable you to work providing care to other people, most people will be naturally drawn to a particular type of care work, often based on their own personal experiences. For example, many people who work as drug addiction counselors are recovered addicts themselves.
Similarly, if you have an elderly relative who requires care and assistance, or you have already seen a family member progress through the final stage of their life, you may well feel a burning desire to work to ensure that other people can enjoy their final years to their fullest extent, regardless of their condition.
Whatever your background or motivations, if you think that helping to provide care to senior citizens is what you want to ultimately do with your professional life, this guide is for you. We will go over the basics of what roles are available to you and how you can go about working towards making them a reality.
There are lots of jobs that you can do to help seniors without having any formal qualifications. Obviously, many of the roles that involve one on one direct patient contact will require formal qualifications and training. If working in such a role is your ultimate goal, then you can pick up other work in the meantime. For example, if you can spend some time working as a cleaner in a senior care home, this will look great on your resume when the time comes to apply for work when you’re qualified.
In the short term, it is definitely a good idea to try and find some opportunities to work with senior citizens that don’t require you to hold any formal qualifications. If nothing else, this experience will help you to make sure that working with the elderly is the right career choice for you. These roles will also usually put you in close contact with people who have qualifications and degrees that have enabled them to work in their current role.
These people will provide you with valuable insight into what you can expect in the future, should you continue down the same career path. They can also give you all the information that you need to make a more informed decision about the career path that you ultimately take. No matter how diligently you research beforehand, nothing will provide you with concrete evidence of what a particular role or career will be like better than talking to those with direct experience of it.
Not every role will require you to be hands-on with patients either, so this is something that you will have to work out for yourself. Some people much prefer the direct one-on-one jobs required in senior healthcare, but others feel more comfortable in a hands-off role where they can still provide support to patients and institutions and make a difference to the quality and level of care that seniors receive.
While there are plenty of specific jobs available to those who want to work in senior citizen care, these roles can generally be divided into three categories – home care, support work, and care home work.
Many elderly people will need some form of extra support as they get older. However, the amount of support that they need can vary wildly. Some elderly people will be able to cope just fine on their own, while others will require round-the-clock assistance. In cases where patients are largely independent, their home care worker might only stop by their house every couple of days to check on them.
But in many cases, home care assistants will live with the patient so that they can provide them with the care that they need throughout the day. For patients who require assistance with most of their daily routine, these workers provide an essential lifeline. In some cases, where patients require daily treatments but are still largely independent, a home care worker may still be used.
The roles that a home care worker fulfills will depend on the specific circumstances and history of the patient. Some home care workers will be helping their patients with everything from getting dressed, to washing themselves or going to the toilet. Another area where home care workers often provide assistance is with regards to diet. This can mean preparing food for the patient or ensuring that the patient is eating an appropriate diet for their medical condition.
Home care workers may also take on the responsibility for general housework and ensuring that the patient’s environment is conducive to their recovery or stability, depending on the situation.
Support workers are similar to home care workers, but they generally will not live with the patient and will instead visit their home according to a predetermined schedule. Patients who require the most care will generally either receive that care in a care home or from a live-in care worker. Support workers are there for those that are living a mostly independent life but who need some help.
For example, an elderly person might be able to look after themselves just fine, but struggle when it comes to looking after their home. Support workers can help them to keep their homes tidy and in order (which is important for ensuring their overall health).
Another important function of a support worker is in providing assistance to senior citizens who want to go out into the community and socialize, but find it difficult to do so on their own.
Finally, we have care home assistants. These care workers provide all of the functions that we listed above, but they provide this care within a care home setting instead of in the patient’s home. Patients in a care home can still be completely independent – in many cases they are living in a care home or retirement community because they don’t want to live alone, even though they could manage it physically.
This means that working in a care home will expose you to the full gamut of patients that are encountered in senior care work. Some facilities will cater to seniors with specific needs, such as dementia or serious mental illness, others are much broader.
It is a good idea to get as much first-hand experience and knowledge as possible before you commit yourself to a particular career. You may well find that as you go through the process of earning a nursing degree, you reconsider your career choice. You will certainly have plenty of time to make sure that you are on the right path, as each stage of a nursing qualification takes a couple of years at least.
Another choice you will have to make is whether you want to work for a particular business or organization, or whether you want to go it alone and provide services as an independent contractor. Once you have earned your Associate Degree in Nursing, you could then choose to enroll to study an ADN to nurse practitioner online. A family nurse practitioner can work with patients of all ages and provide care throughout their lives. This means that not only is it an excellent degree for those who want to work in senior care, it also enables you to transition to helping younger patients as well if you so choose.
In addition to the training and qualifications that you will receive, there is a range of qualities that you will need to have in order to thrive.
At the top of the list is respect and empathy. When you work with seniors, you will be working with people at one of the most vulnerable periods in their life. It is important that all of your patients feel at ease and comfortable with you and are able to trust you. If you can’t make patients feel safe and secure, you should look for a less direct role.
You will also need to be reliable and punctual. It is very important for many senior patients that they have a consistent routine. If you are taking on the role of one of their primary caregivers, you will be largely responsible for ensuring this is the case.
If you think that working to provide care to senior citizens is something that you want to do with your life, you can begin that journey today. If you are already progressing through the ranks of nursing in the US, look for opportunities to specialize in family or senior care.
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