Whether you’re considering a career in care or you’re simply curious about what goes into working in a nursing home, the truth is, a job description will only scratch the surface.
Beyond the roles and responsibilities, some little-known realities make up the day-to-day for care home staff. Here, we’ve asked our hardworking team to give us nine facts and observations from their time in the care sector.
What’s it really like to work in a nursing home?
1. It’s a sociable job — but there’s a lot of independent work, too
Here at Fulford, like many other care homes across the country, we have a tight-knit team ready to support one another. And as key workers for our residents, there’s always something to do or arrange individually, such as a trip into town or some shopping.
2. It’s often looked down upon as “not real nursing”
We have to put up with a lot of stereotypes about how care home nursing is “not real nursing” — and that’s simply true. Just because we’re not working in a hospital setting doesn’t make our skills any less valuable.
We balance nursing with living well, working hard to ensure our residents enjoy happy and fulfilling lives.
It’s also worth noting that many of our residents join us for respite care, sometimes following a hospital visit. That means we’re on hand to help with their post-op or post-treatment care. It’s real nursing work, and it matters a great deal. There’s nothing better than supporting someone to get back home.
3. We’re always “on”
A huge part of the job is simply being alert. We’re here to help our residents go about their day with independence and dignity, which means we need to be aware of our (and their) surroundings. This can be tiring, and you certainly get your steps in!
4. We develop close relationships with our patients
While care staff are always professional, we’re only human, and we do become attached to our residents. Obviously, these close bonds can’t last forever, making loss an overwhelming part of the job.
5. We experience a lot of emotions
Yes, there’s the sadness and pain of losing a cherished resident, but it’s not all doom and gloom in a care home setting. We experience every emotion daily, which includes joy and laughter as we share stories, games, songs and activities with residents.
Of course, managing our emotions can be challenging, as we often have to switch between sadness and happiness at the drop of a hat. But that’s life, and sharing our time together is such an honour.
6. It’s not just a job; it’s a career
Many people on the outside of our industry might think of working in a care home as “just a job in care,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you have ambitions to progress within the care sector, you’ll have ample opportunities. From on-the-job training to recognised qualifications and transferable skills, there’s an established path for personal and professional development.
And as social care starts to be recognised for its immense contribution to society, there is no better time to join us.
7. No two days are ever the same
The truth is, we never know what’s going to happen from one hour to the next! The care needs of our residents often change day-to-day, and what they want to do (swimming, shopping, bike rides) can be quite surprising. So, we need to react and adapt quickly to whatever is going on around us. It brings a lot of variety and excitement to the role.
8. It’s not for the faint of heart
Generally speaking, nursing isn’t a career for the squeamish, and this is especially true of care home nursing. We care for every aspect of our residents’ needs, and together with the rest of the care team, we help them maintain their dignity and well-being.
9. Sometimes, we’re all they have
If a resident’s family lives too far away to visit regularly (or they don’t have any immediate family left), it’s often up to us to help them fend off loneliness and isolation. We do this like all of us do with our friends and family — by chatting, laughing, listening, and living together.
This was a significant part of the job throughout the COVID pandemic lockdowns, adding another dimension to an already challenging time.
Being all someone has in the world is a huge responsibility, but it’s also a genuine privilege, and it makes the hard work and long days truly worthwhile.
We hope this has given you a glimpse into what it’s like to work in a nursing home. If you’re interested in a career in care, we’re interested in you. Get in touch to learn more about the roles available here at Fulford.