During this week’s National Skilled Nursing Care Week (sponsored by the American Health Care Association), registered nurses working in these facilities can take stock of all they do to help their patients. Skilled nursing facilities help patients who require longer-term care and so nurses who work in these facilities often get to know their patients well. Nurses who are new to the career or who have particular interest in helping the populations served by a particular facility will find the experience they gain valuable.
Skilled nursing facilities often care for patients who require long-term care for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s or dementia to people with physical or cognitive disabilities. Nurses working with patients in these settings help them with activities of daily living, medical care, and, often just as essential, a familiar and caring relationship. Because the people in these facilities are generally there for a long time, nurses are able to get to know them well and understand their needs, preferences, family dynamics and stories, and what helps them most.
Familiarity with patients also helps deepen the relationships nurses can develop in this setting. Rather than a nursing role where nurses see a patient just once or possibly only periodically, skilled nursing care facilities offer round-the-clock care for the same individuals.
RNs who are new to the profession often find skilled nursing facilities are a good place to work directly with patients and their families. Nurses who work there and with the same patients will begin to learn what an Alzheimer’s patient might find soothing or agitating. They will become acquainted with how someone prefers to move around or the music they like to listen to. With this kind of familiarity also comes the ability to see small, but significant, changes in a patient. Nurses might recognize a decline with troubling behavior or improvement in someone’s condition.
They also offer opportunities for leadership roles and exposure to more complicated care situations. Skilled nursing care means you will assess people over a span so you can monitor factors like their medications, food intake, and socialization as their physical condition undergoes changes. If an injury has caused limited mobility, various impacts like weight gain or less social interaction can change a patient’s mental and physical health. As a longer-term care provider, you can advocate for your patients when you see these subtle changes.
As nurses become more experienced, they also might find a specialty they want to pursue more. As some skilled nursing care facilities are for older patients, nurses might find they want to pursue certification in a gerontological nursing. They may choose to become a certified rehabilitation registered nurse if they work with people who have had life-altering injuries.
As skilled care providers, nurses should always be aware of the help and care they give and just how deep of an impact that makes on patients. Nurses also want to be mindful of their own health and be aware of any feelings of burnout. Taking good care of their own physical and mental health will help them offer the best care while also leading a balanced life.