There are multiple reasons why someone might be interested in caring for the elderly, from having a caring, compassionate nature that compels them to look after others, to the desire to contribute to society in a meaningful way, and have a fulfilling career. While there are numerous benefits to a job in elderly care, it takes a lot of time and dedication to learn and train for such a demanding role. If you think this is a career you’d like to pursue, listed below are some of the basic steps that you will have to take to achieve this goal.
While caring for the elderly is a positive job and very rewarding, it can also be incredibly challenging. These kinds of jobs aren’t suited to everybody, and so before you start taking the steps to become an elderly carer, first, you need to think carefully about whether you’re up to the task. An ideal candidate for a role like this will be compassionate, patient, and thick-skinned. There might be circumstances when you’re dealing with an individual who is suffering from dementia or a physical ailment that prohibits their ability to communicate with you properly or move around with ease. These situations can be frustrating and upsetting at times, but you must be able to continue to work under these pressures and make sure that the individual you’re caring for is comfortable.
Other tough situations you might come across during your time as an elderly carer include the death of someone you’re caring for or concerned/upset family members. While, of course, there are many positive aspects to this job, you must recognize the challenges this kind of career will throw at you, and you must be prepared to deal with them properly. This is why it takes a particular kind of character to be successful in these roles.
If you think you’re up to the job, you will need to make sure you have the right qualifications to continue with your career journey. There is a variety of job roles under the umbrella of elderly care that you could do, so do some research and find the one that suits you best. You could choose to be a nurse, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a physical therapist, or a personal care aide, among other things. Once you have determined what specific role you’d like to pursue, you can then find the relevant educational programs to obtain your qualifications. Most of these roles will require an undergraduate degree in your chosen discipline, so you must be prepared to study at a collegiate level. If you’re worried about how flexible studying will be with other commitments, you can always look into studying with a university online.
If you’re not entirely sure if you want to commit to a university degree, there are other qualification programs you can enroll in. Often, people who have already worked in these environments can work and gain their qualification at the same time. Whichever path you choose, though, you will need to receive the right education and training to get these kinds of roles and progress up the career ladder.
Volunteering and work experience
You can still get an entry-level job without work experience, as long as you have your qualifications, but like any job, having some sort of hands-on experience will increase your chances of a job offer. Consider finding a part-time job in a retirement home, at a hospital, or with a charity that focuses on elderly care as you study to help gain the relevant experience employers will be looking for. If you can’t find any paid work, or can’t commit to set working hours every week, volunteer positions might be better suited for you, as they can be more flexible with how much time you can dedicate to them. Either way, you should certainly be looking into getting some work experience either during or after your studies. Doing so will help you stand out from other candidates and get strong, useful references.
So you have gained the relevant qualifications and training, as well as getting some work experience – so now what? You need to decide what kind of working environment you want to be in. Below are a couple of options that are the most common choices for those looking to work in elderly care.
Work in an RCFE
A residential care facility for the elderly is a great place to start in your career. It’ll be hands-on work, and you’ll have a lot of great support from the other members of staff at the facility. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how these residential homes work, and the sense of community they can provide. You might even become interested in starting an RCFE yourself after a few years of working in this type of environment. If you think this is something you’d be interested in, remember to look into licensing laws and restrictions before you start planning. Look here for assistance with an RCFE license application.
Visit people at home
If you think you’d prefer to work more independently, you can always choose to visit individuals at their homes instead. This kind of work usually focuses more on personal assistance, such as grocery shopping, helping elderly folk wash and get dressed, carry out household chores, and preparing their meals for them. However, healthcare specialists like nurses, occupational therapists, and so on can also do home visits. You can either be hired directly by the elderly individual/their family, or you can become employed via an agency.
Caring for the elderly is such an important job role, and there are many things you can do to help. With so many different kinds of jobs in elderly care, this is a fantastic choice for individuals who are caring, compassionate, and want to provide quality care to those who need it the most. You can make new friends and offer great comfort to both your elderly patients and their families as a carer, which is what makes it so rewarding. If you think this career path sounds right for you, think about the points above to help you get started.