Aging is an unavoidable part of living and it’s certainly not a bad thing. With age comes wisdom and experience, family and community. While most would love to have the ability to care for their aging loved ones, that’s not always a reality. This makes job security in the medical profession a stable choice and working in a nursing home or senior living community is no different. It takes a special person to devote their life to the service of others and, people in the nursing field are those special people. When you’re new to the profession and looking for a job within which you can grow and excel, a senior living community is an obvious choice. That said, the tasks required of you combined with that particular work atmosphere can feel overwhelming even to the most seasoned of nurses. Here are 5 tips for new nurses and staff members starting out their careers in assisted living, nursing homes, or senior living communities.
- Carry a Small Notebook
You probably thought your days of note-taking ended when you graduated but, when you have a lot of information to remember, it’s not a bad idea to jot down a few notes. This is particularly important in the medical field as a mistake can be life-threatening. At the very least, do this while you get acclimated to the position and until your tasks become second nature. You shouldn’t write down any confidential information but you can still take notes to help you remember your tasks. Write down any questions you have or reminders about your patients. You’ll be able to learn new things and you’ll feel less stressed out if you have a list of tasks.
2. Read Your Patient’s Care Plans ASAP
You’ll be able to find out what needs to be done and how often you’ll need to perform each task if you read the chart as soon as you’re able. Each care plan will be different and you’ll be able to ask questions of your colleagues if you’re unsure about something. This helps you stay on top of your tasks so you don’t get behind as things will undoubtedly pop up.
3. Get to Know your Residents
You almost become family to your residents. Often, you’re around them more than their actual family; you see to their daily care. Plus, we all know it’s not easy being vulnerable or asking for help. The people you’re caring for have lived lives; they’ve traveled, had children and careers, they’ve gone through experiences both good and bad. It’s never easy to rely on other people, especially when you’ve taken care of yourself or others and made independent decisions for your whole life. It must be difficult having the inability, whether mentally or physically, to do that anymore. Getting to know your residents gives them back some of that autonomy and shows that you respect them. That consideration goes a long way in building relationships and making your job easier.
4. Stay Organized to Save Time
Make a list of everything that needs to be done so you can prioritize tasks. As you go from room-to-room, note which supplies are running low. Nothing slows you down like having to make extra trips for what you need. Keep spare gloves or other things you use frequently with you so you’re not running around gathering supplies. Get to work a few minutes early and skim through the notes from the previous shift so you know of any changes ahead of time. Try to anticipate what you’ll need so that you can adjust for the things you can’t anticipate.
5. Communication is Key
You’re not in this alone. One of the many benefits of working with the senior living community is the sense of, well, community! You’re a member of a care team. Communicate with your coworkers. Yes, you have your own work to do but, sometimes others can help. If your shift is short-handed try to work in pairs to make the tasks easier. Let someone know when you’re taking a break or if you’ll be with a resident for an extended time. No one understands the demands of this job better than the people working by your side. This job is challenging but incredibly rewarding; your colleagues are a resource for you; ask questions, share stories, express concerns.
Hopefully, the above tips will help you ease into this rewarding career. You’re working in a profession that requires a lot from you, both mentally and physically but you’re making a difference in the lives of people that have helped build our great country.