By William G. Paven, PHR
The desire to care for those who can't care for themselves is an admirable one. If you’ve ever wanted to enter into elderly care as a profession, and you’re the nurturing type, you’re in luck. Many elderly care jobs are available today.
In order to embark on such a career, you need a very particular set of skills. For starters, you must have compassion and patience. Some senior citizens can be a quite a handful at times, and you might even experience some demeaning commentary directed toward you in this line of work. You might not even be thanked for a job well done.
You must be able to deal with people who have severe mental illnesses. Many people in nursing homes are there because they have dementia or some other debilitating mental sickness that requires them to be cared for constantly. As an elderly care professional, you must be fully aware that these patients are afraid and confused. Much of what they say is not actually true, and only appears that way in their own minds.
One aspect of the career that’s occasionally overlooked by elderly care job seekers is that they’ll have to deal with grief situations. This includes things like breaking the news of a patient's death to his or her loved ones.
Although it’s not always completely necessary, an education and a degree in social work will be of great help to you when seeking work in this field. Those who find the most success usually have a Master’s degree in social work (MSW).
As it is with many career fields these days, a great way to go about finding a job in the elderly care industry is to search the Internet. There is currently a national shortage of these types of social workers, but depending on your area, you might not find exactly what you’re looking for right away. If you’re patient, you’ll eventually find some great local opportunities, or you may decide to move in order to take a good job.
Web sites like CareerBuilder and HotJobs are good starting points for general searches, and seeing what’s available near you. Keep in mind that some facilities might still be a little old-fashioned, and may not have advertisements posted online. You may want to check the classified ads in your local newspaper to make sure you're covering all the bases. Some elderly care companies will also have jobs posted on their own websites, like Avamere Jobs.
If you think you have what it takes to be a social worker for the elderly, and you meet the requirements for the job, consider applying at a facility near you. It can be a very rewarding career you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Bill Paven has been the Vice President of Human Resources for the Avamere Family of Companies for the last three years, and has worked in the Senior Care industry for 20 years. He is currently a member of AHCA – Workforce Committee, as well as the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).