Healthcare careers in retirement versus hospitals


Why Consider Nursing in Retirement Communities

Statistics Canada projects that by 2036, those aged 65 and older will account for one-quarter of the population. As Canadians live longer, their needs are evolving, which profoundly influences healthcare delivery networks across the country. Nurses provide the front-line health care for older adults in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and retirement communities.

The Regulated Nurses 2016 report indicates that the proportion of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) employed in community, hospital and long-term care settings increased from 50.3 per cent to 56.3 per cent, between 2007 and 2016.

The aging population is and will continue to boost nursing opportunities in these healthcare settings, giving RNs and LPNs more options when it comes to choosing their workplace.

Why choose to work in a retirement setting over a hospital or long-term care home?

Jennifer Knight, RN at Seasons Stoney Creek and Paula Turner-Guillaume, LPN and Memory Care Manager at Seasons Olds Encore give us their professional insights:

How is nursing in a retirement community different than nursing in a hospital?

Jennifer: For myself, working in an independent living retirement community allows me to have more one-on-one time with residents and their families. In a hospital, the high patient turnover can sometimes make you feel like you’re working an assembly line. I personally think hospitals have changed drastically over the years and that nurses are no longer able to spend a great deal of quality time with their patients.

Paula: A nursing student’s first experience is usually in some sort of long-term care environment.  From there, they are whisked away to the busy hospitals where the bells and whistles romance you into taking a job with the unit you graduated on.  This leaves a very small percentage of nurses to fill positions in retirement communities. The difference between locations can seem obvious. For example, the pace, population and medical issues.  On the other hand, most people don’t see is the differences in touch, smiles, hugs and meaningful moments.  In a retirement community, you’re able to get to know your residents on a personal level. Over time they become a significant part of your life.  In a busy hospital unit, you may not see the same person two days in a row.  You barely have time to make a connection, let alone start your day with hugs.

What are the benefits of working in a retirement community?

Jennifer: A major benefit of working in a retirement community is that I get to see the same smiles every day.  I love getting to know my residents on a more personal level. I get to know their family members by name and meet their pets. It’s also great that our residents are healthy and well.  My responsibility is to keep them this way and ensure they stay out of the hospital as best I can.

Paula: I see a wide variety of nursing practices come alive in retirement communities. Above all, the biggest benefit is the reward of knowing you’re making a difference.

What challenges do you face?

Jennifer: It’s difficult when a resident becomes ill quickly. We make lasting connections with each and every resident and it’s emotionally challenging when they leave our home or pass away.

Paula:  Always, time. Either time to visit, time to live or time to die. I’m deeply attached to the residents and I do everything possible to keep them healthy and well. When I’m unable to remedy a situation or illness, I feel like I’m letting them down. Learning to separate what I’m able to control and what I’m not is my challenge.

What’s the best part about working in a senior retirement community?

Jennifer: There are many positive aspects of working in a senior retirement community as a nurse. Nurses are able to work in a wider scope of practice and are essential to the team. Residents appreciate getting to know the nurses, rather than having a different person look after them every day.

Paula: I walk through the door every morning to be greeted by a dozen residents saying, “Good Morning,” and I’m asked questions about the roads, the traffic or the weather.  When I leave for the day, I enjoy similar interactions. “Have a great night, drive safe” or “What’s the price of gas?”  I feel welcome here and as a result, I love my career.

What advice do you have for nurses entering the field?

Paula: Be open-minded. This is a beautiful population and they deserve our time and respect. Slow down and you will work faster.

Seasons Retirement Communities is dedicated to providing team members with the proper training and continuing education required to go beyond meeting our resident’s care expectations. We invest in our staff so they understand regulatory policies and procedures. We also hope our team members feel empowered to move beyond basic compliance to a place of commitment.

Seasons offers independent supportive living, assisted living and memory care. All residents meet with the health and wellness manager prior to move-in. This helps us understand our residents, what their goals are for retirement and how we can best meet their needs now and in the future.

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