The Benefits of Long-Term Care Jobs

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Written by Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN Freelance Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Marie Hasty, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Senior Asian resident smiling with female Asian nurse in long-term care facility.

Many new nursing professionals automatically assume they’ll work in an acute setting. Can you blame them? Popular depictions of nurses in TV and movies are predominantly in hospitals (Grey’s Anatomy, E.R., Scrubs, etc.). People often forget there are other environments where nurses are needed, such as in long-term care jobs.

As the country’s population ages, more people are turning to long-term care. This sector of the healthcare field meets the older population’s needs while also helping them retain as much independence as possible. Most long-term healthcare facilities offer a tiered system of care, from services to help the elderly stay at home to total assisted living at a specialized healthcare facility.

Working as a long-term care (LTC) nurse can be incredibly rewarding. Let’s take a closer look at why LTC careers could be right for you.

What Is Long-Term Care?

Long-term care isn’t just one type of nursing care; rather, this nursing specialty provides a variety of services, most commonly to elderly patients, to help them stay healthy while retaining their independence. Long-term care may also be offered to people with chronic or ongoing medical conditions.

In some cases, a person’s need for long-term care develops suddenly. Others gradually need more help as they age. Regardless of the patient’s needs, nurses working in LTC careers are there to help.

What Is a Long-Term Care Facility?

Technically speaking, a long-term care facility can be anything from a nursing home to a private residence where a person receives home health care. A long-term care facility refers to a facility designed to provide a suite of services that support a person’s health and/or personal care needs during an extended period of time. In addition to nursing homes, assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities are other examples of long-term care facilities.

What Duties Do You Perform in Long-Term Care Jobs?

As a long-term care nurse, you’ll help patients complete activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, and dressing. Most patients in long-term care aren’t there for acute or sudden illnesses — because of this, it’s unlikely that you’ll need constant support from other healthcare professionals, like physicians. Don’t worry, you will certainly work with physicians, just not on a minute-by-minute basis as some other nursing specialties do.

A long-term care nurse consistently completes parts of the patient’s predetermined treatment plan. An important aspect of this function is continuously monitoring the patient for any change in their health status. If such a change occurs, it will be your duty to report this to other members of the patient’s healthcare team. Keeping an eye out for such changes requires excellent assessment and observation skills.

In addition to jobs in long-term care for registered nurses, there are jobs in LTC for:

Benefits of Working in Long-Term Care Jobs

Long-term care nurses stay in the specialty for its many benefits, such as:

Independence: Working in long-term care requires a certain degree of autonomy not found in other specialties. Since physicians or other team members aren’t necessarily around all the time, nurses must be willing and able to think on their feet to solve problems and keep patients safe.

Job security: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, all members of the baby boomer generation (people born between 1946 and 1964) will be age 65 or older. Boomers are the second largest segment of the country’s population, following Millennials. Many of these people will need professional nursing help as they age — talk about job security!

Location, location: Unlike jobs in major medical centers, jobs in LTC can be found in rural, suburban, and city environments. As a long-term care nurse, you’ll probably be able to pick where you’d like to work. This can be very beneficial to your own quality of life.

Relationships: LTC jobs offer nurses the opportunity to have meaningful and close relationships with their patients since they care for them over an extended period of time. You’ll really get to know your patients and their family members, sometimes over the course of months or years.

Slower-paced work: Unlike acute care, which can be fast paced and unpredictable, long-term care jobs usually don’t see medical emergencies. Of course, emergencies may happen in post-acute care settings, but this specialty is generally less stressful compared to other nursing specialties.

One additional bonus is the depth of knowledge that can come from working with an older population. Nurses in long-term care careers have the opportunity to learn about their patients’ rich life history and honor a generation that is often overlooked in American society. In turn, that brings a feeling of love, respect, and purpose that many residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities may lack. It can be incredibly rewarding to give back in this way.

Find Great Long-Term Care Jobs on IntelyCare

Want a fulfilling career that offers substantial job security? We can help with that. Explore the different kinds of nursing jobs that are available on IntelyCare right now.