I have been working in a 120-bed high care facility as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) for the last few years and if you are one of those blessed souls who want to work in aged care, here are some tips to prepare yourself.
- First, stop shaking. You will survive. Stop shaking 🙂
- Don’t listen to rumours, we really don’t bite (yummy).
- When you start at a nursing home, each new staff member is assigned a buddy. Listen to and make eye contact with your buddy. Buddies usually groan but it’s not personal. I usually have a little speech that if I am abrupt etc it’s not personal. Each one has their own peculiar behaviours or sometimes management is around or it’s because we’re having an off day. Phew!
- Show intiative. It makes us and residents feel you are interested in what you are doing.
- Smile. Be friendly. Families would request for someone else to look after their loved ones if it looks like you are going to get stuck. Explain that you are a student, they will understand.
- Read the Manual Handling Charts because you are part of the team. It would be good for everyone if you had an idea what we were doing. Makes you look good too 🙂 If you don’t know what something means, just ask. See tip no. 2.
- Remember that residents are people too so ensure their privacy and dignity are maintained. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember, not every resident in a nursing home is deaf. They will be very quick to tell you this.
- Chat to Fred while you are showering him but remember, we are a team and really need all players on the field. Clean up after yourself and take pride in the job that you have completed. Good on you if I don’t have to come along and finish off.
- Communicate with other staff as we really do want to help you to learn. Remember we have a vested interest in you doing a good job because your work will be a reflection of our teaching.
- It is possible to work and talk. (I know this but I am the quietest nurse in the nursing home, ha ha). If my colleagues read this, they will be in stitches.
- Ask questions. I repeat, ask questions. If you don’t ask you will not find out (hmm, sounds like the ‘Seek and you shall find’ saying eh?) Even if you think it’s a stupid question, it doesn’t matter.
- Be prepared to take part in some of the not so nice jobs, eg the pan room. We all have to do it, so we share the load. Also, strangely, a good place to escape if you just need a moment.
- Remember always that staff working in aged care have a weird sense of humour.
- Most of all realise that we are all doing the best we can and it is a privilege to be in a position where you can make a difference to someone’s day.
- Remember nursing in an aged care facility is not just about personal care. We interact with our residents continually during the day. You may just be the right person at the right place when someone needs a listening ear, a small task completed or when a family member needs either some reassurance or information.
Nursing in aged care is never boring. Aged care challenges you every day, emotionally, physically and mentally. At times you really wonder if you are getting anywhere and then you get a smile, a pat on the back or someone is able to do something they couldn’t do the day before.
I love it and will continue to fight for a fair deal for staff and our residents.
Image credit: Wyoming Nursing Home