Working in a senior care home can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs, as even on your worst days, you still get to make a positive impact in someone’s life.
Whether you are beginning your career or are a veteran and would love to make changes in your life, you can’t go wrong with working in a senior center.
The unique thing about the senior care industry is that the workforce is a combination of healthcare and hospitality roles, so you have a wide range of positions to choose from.
Would you love to build a career in the industry but aren’t sure of the qualifications you need? Here is a rundown of the most common positions and the expected qualifications:
As an aged caregiver, you support the elderly by assisting them with their daily activities and personal tasks. Some tasks you have to undertake include: helping the elderly with eating, showering, cleaning, and dressing.
You can work with the aged from their home or care facilities.
Besides being highly compassionate and having a burning desire to help others, some institutions might require you to have a certified nurse assistant (CAN) or certified medical assistant (CMA) certification.
Whether you want to become a certified nurse or medical assistant, you must take exams to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Many online resources are available to help you with exam preparations, such as a free CNA study guide that includes a detailed study plan, practice questions, and highlights. A certified nursing assistant plays a crucial role in providing direct healthcare support to patients, typically under the supervision of a nurse. While CNAs may not always have direct contact with patients, they actively collaborate with nurses to fulfill a variety of essential daily tasks and assist in patients' overall care.
Always check with the facility you are looking to work for before sending your application.
An executive director (ED) is the facility leader and one in charge of the daily operations at a senior care center.
Your key responsibilities as an ED may include:
- Handling the facility’s budget.
- Implementing plans to ensure adequate occupancy while achieving financial goals.
- Managing staff.
- Ensuring the facility is conducive for everyone.
- Ensuring the facility meets local and national regulations.
Since you will be meeting with different families and helping them understand what their loved ones are going through, you need to have good communication skills, not to mention incredible interpersonal skills and compassion.
Most senior living communities seek an executive director with a business or healthcare management degree. They also consider your experience level.
In most cases, you should have worked in a similar position for at least five years.
If you feel this is your career, you don’t have to start from the top. Instead, you can build it from the bottom and work your way until you attain the required experience.
Resident care director
As the resident care director, you are the leader of the clinical team, and you serve as a member of the facility’s leadership team. You might act as an executive director in their absence.
- You serve as a liaison between the families, residents, physicians, and other care providers.
- You are responsible for ensuring that the residents are provided with the care they need safely and effectively.
In most cases, resident care directors are nurses, and they can be a Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), a registered nurse (RN), or even a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Most senior care facilities look for experienced resident care directors in clinical practice and staff management. The purpose of doing this is to ensure that both the staff and residents are happy.
As an activities director, you schedule exercise classes, lectures, game nights, outings in the facility, and other activities.
You should devise an activity schedule that balances the facility’s residents’ mental and physical well-being.
Before you schedule the activities, undertake a patient assessment to determine the ability of every patient to participate in the activities.
You also should frequently interact with the residents to find out their interests which, as you can guess, comes in handy in helping you plan the appropriate activities for them.
As an activities director, you not only interact with the seniors but also with the other staff members, such as nurses and doctors, which will give you ideas of the activities to consider and help you understand the capabilities of the different residents.
Many senior care centers look for candidates with a degree in recreation or activities certification.
Other centers don’t pay much attention to the certifications as long as you prove the capability to plan the different activities. To stand out, you need to be flexible, creative, and an expert in event planning.
Like a school principal, your role as an administrator is to take care of the administrative duties to ensure that the staff and residents are comfortable and safe in the facility.
Some of your tasks include:
- Attending meetings to discuss compliance, budget, and operational policies
- Delegating tasks to ensure that the facility is running efficiently
- Purchasing medical equipment and supplies
- Overseeing billing, expenses, and accounting
- Managing patient records systems, tools, and processes
- Hiring, training, and evaluating the healthcare professionals
- If working in a facility featuring a continuum of care, you report to the executive director, but in other cases, you serve as the community’s sole leader.
To succeed in this position, you need strong management skills and the ability to work closely and professionally with the clinical team.
You don’t need a nursing or clinical background, but you should be able to “talk the talk” with your team.
Food services director
Also known as the dining director, a food services director is responsible for reviewing menus and supervising food handling, preparation, and storage.
You also oversee equipment maintenance, record keeping, and other sanitation activities.
Although you don’t need to be a trained chef, you need to have a background in hospitality or healthcare to succeed in the role.
This is to ensure that you can communicate with the trained culinary arts staff members and let them know about your expectations.
How to get hired
Suppose you're ready to join the senior care staffing market for the first time or looking for a new opportunity. While the competition is tight, the demand for senior care is always going strong due to the current circumstances in the healthcare field. There are always plenty of options.
To boost your chances of gaining the attention of senior care HR, consider taking the following steps:
- Get certified: Many different certifications are available for senior home care staff. Getting certified shows potential employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide quality care.
- Network with people in the industry: Attend industry events, such as conferences and job fairs. It's a great way to meet potential employers and learn about job openings.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job: When you apply for a job, always tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific position. Put the most relevant skills, certifications, and experience first to gain recruiters' attention immediately.
- Practice your interviewing skills: The interview is your chance to make a good impression on the employer. Be sure to practice your interviewing skills to answer questions confidently and professionally.
- Keep watch of job listings: A reputable aged care job agency can provide you access to curated listings from providers they trust. They can match your credentials to the right jobs and make your application easier.
Are you ready?
Are you ready for your new career in the home care industry? Remember that when you are finding a job in assisted living in Costa Mesa or any other place, it’s not about the title or the money you will get from it—it’s all about the impact you make on the residents.
This calls for you to be highly compassionate and patient with the residents.