As one of the fastest growing professions, certified nurse aides are looking at a bright future concerning their ability to become employed in lucrative positions within the broad spectrum of senior care facilities. With the sizable baby boomer generation transitioning into their golden years, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration predicts a 66% increase in demand for qualified nursing assistants in nursing homes and other managed care settings for geriatric patients. Another impressive statistic from the same source, estimates that home health care workers, or HHA’s face even greater shortages, with the need for certified workers doubling by the year 2020. CNA salaries vary greatly by state, but the statistics still stack up favorably for the profession as a whole.
One misconception that students seeking CNA certification often have, is that working with seniors will be dull and messy, and they dismiss the idea early on of pursing a career specializing in gerontology CNA work. Surprisingly, you might find yourself outmatched by some of the seniors within care facilities today. Unlike the good old days, the most recent generation of seniors is relatively independent, strong-willed, and some are downright energetic. Because of the wide range of facilities that exist solely with intent on creating a safe, comfortable environment for like minded retirees, there are several distinct options within the genre for consideration.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRC’s
This is one of the more opulent and sought after places to land a CNA gig, as these facilities are distinct from nursing homes and other types of care in significant ways. Residents living in a CCRC, typically have their own private apartments, and they perform most of the upkeep themselves. When working in this environment, you will assist the community’s dwellers as much or as little as they require.
Many of these facilities feature lavish amenities such as tennis courts, movie rooms, and fitness centers, so part of your job might be to set up or oversee these types of activities. Other shifts can be rather exciting if you are in charge of taking the CCRC’s patrons on excursions or entertainment ventures. However, depending on what areas of the community you are assigned to, you may find yourself doing more paperwork, oversight, and vital sign checks than anything else some days. Those who live in a continuing care retirement community are often paying hefty out of pocket fees to live there, which means that the employees tend to receive higher wages. You can see why these jobs are highly desirable for the ambitious CNA.
These facilities can provide either long term or short-term residency for seniors. In addition to housing for geriatric patients, many convalescent homes today are used as a rehabilitation center for those who need additional medical assistance while fully recovering from an illness or incident. For example, a patient that doesn’t require hospitalization is released, but has no one to care for them at home. The complexities of Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance policies have forced individuals to make tough choices concerning their medical care.
Fortunately, many seniors in this situation can take respite at a convalescent center until they are fully recovered, and still receive some sort of coverage benefits. Convalescent homes offer complete care, rehabilitation sessions, occupational therapy, and much more to their temporary and full time residents. This particular sort of senior care facility offers good pay for CNAs, and the environment can best be describes as cross between a hospital and a nursing home. Your job duties will most resemble the work required of a nursing assistant employed in a CCRC.
Traditional Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are the most common place of employment for CNA’s, and over time, these institutions have evolved tremendously. Certainly, you are no stranger to all the headlines concerning abuse of the elderly that occasionally occurs in nursing homes– however, stringent regulations and highly enforced laws and regulations have helped tremendously in lessening the occurrence of these situations. These regulations are directly responsible for many of the hoops you jump through when enrolling for your CNA classes, such as the background checks and fingerprint ID cards.
Working in a nursing home generally entails performing many of the most basic CNA tasks, as some of these facilities house seniors that are not quite as active as their peers. Activities and outings for these patients are somewhat limited, and they tend to require a higher level of attentiveness from nursing aide staff members. Be prepared to deal with issues such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and even downright crankiness. Not all residents are happy to be there, and may be resistant to your help. Many people end up in nursing facilities because they are all alone and have little or no family nearby. Also, financial issues may be a large contributing factor to their choice to reside in a nursing home, as the alternatives mentioned above tend to cost more, and may often be denied by insurance and Medicare contributions.
As you can see, each workplace has its own merits and potential drawbacks, yet each of them provides a secure place to work and often a set schedule, which is convenient for those with families or school commitments. Whether you plan to be a CNA for life, or plan to achieve further certifications and status levels within the medical field, these senior care facilities can offer you a world of experience that will prove useful in your pursuits.