Why They Care: What Motivates Nursing Home Staff Today?

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Working in a care facility today is growing more and more difficult for the caregivers and nurses who have risen to meet the challenge of providing care for an aging population. Right now, nursing homes must prepare for the day when the Baby Boomers require the help of professional caregivers. At the same time, ongoing changes within the healthcare field in general mean that facilities are constantly experiencing fluxes in industry rules, budgets, and even staffing demands. Add in the fact that consumers today are quick to look for signs of neglect – whether intentional or accidental – and it’s easy to see that caregiving staff today have been given quite a headache to manage.

So why do they do it? Despite the fact that many facilities are vastly understaffed and nurses often report that they feel underpaid, these brave individuals continue to come to work and find the silver lining in what is truly an incredibly stressful job. For them, working within the industry is not just rewarding – it’s beneficial on a personal level. Here’s how:

The job helps to keep them prepared for their daily life. Many individuals currently have an elderly family member involved in their lives somehow – whether that be a grandparent, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or an older friend. By working in a nursing home, nurses have the ability to witness and work with the aging process firsthand. The result? They are often able to give better recommendations to relatives or friends about what to do to address their own aging needs. This ability to provide advice – and even to help friends and loved ones navigate the nursing home system during an incredibly stressful time – is a very valuable skill that staff can use to benefit the people in their lives outside of work as well as within it.

The job helps to make them comfortable. Many caregivers will testify that working in a nursing home can help them grow more comfortable with the idea of the aging process. After all, growing older is almost a universal fear. It’s something that everyone thinks about eventually – it’s something that worries many people, too. It can feel particularly daunting and highly isolating if someone does not know exactly what may happen to them over time. As a geriatric caregiver, though, individuals have the opportunity to help patients face these obstacles. This allows staff to demystify the aging process – thereby removing a major source of this fear.

They enjoy (aspects of) the nursing home environment. While they face many challenges within their facilities, many nurses or caregivers who work in a care facility prefer this type of environment over other caregiving settings, such as a hospital. Care facilities give staff members a chance to grow familiar with the residents they care for. The possibility of building relationships can certainly make the job easier, particularly as staff learn how to work with each patient individually. The ability to build a repoirte – instead of being forced to simply treat a patient and send them home – allows staff to enjoy connecting with another human being. And in many cases, this is what the staff in a care facility want! After all…

Caregiving allows nurses to work with a population that needs their help. With over 1.4 million men and women residing in nursing care facilities, it’s clear that the need for caregivers is not going anywhere. Ultimately, working with the elderly can be rewarding simply because it is a job that requires kind act after kind act. It calls on staff to provide comfort and support to another human being. And for many nurses and caregivers, meeting this need – and taking up the mantle of treating consumers as an extended family member – is what brings them the greatest level of satisfaction at work.

Unfortunately, as changes in the industry continue to impact nursing homes, even these benefits of working in a care facility cannot always prevent caregiver burnout or other serious problems. Ultimately, it’s just as important to provide staff with tools that will make their jobs easier, from EHR usage to the implementation of patient monitoring technology. The right tools will allow staff to continue to focus on their reasons for working in the industry, instead of possible reasons to leave it.

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