What Nurses Need To Know About Working in Long-Term Care

Nurses that work in long-term care provide much-needed support to those who are impacted by chronic health conditions, living with disabilities, or are elderly. Long-term care nurses work in facilities designed to care for these patients, such as continuing care communities, as well as at home and rehabilitation centers. 

Long-term care is an opportunity for nurses to work with some of the most vulnerable populations in care facilities. Taking on this role requires a keen interest in interacting with patients and their families over an extended period of time. It’s also necessary to be attentive to detail and to provide consistent care, whether it’s a few weeks or until the end of their life.

If long-term care nursing interests you, it may be time to join the ranks and begin providing care to the patients who need it most. Here’s what you should know about this important career path and what it could mean for you. 

Long-Term Care Nursing

A long-term care nurse is a nurse who provides ongoing healthcare services to patients in home and hospice, long-term care facilities, rehab centers, assisted living communities, and other healthcare settings. As a long-term care nurse, you are responsible for providing extended care for the medically fragile with long-term disabilities, medical conditions, injuries, and illnesses. 

While most patients are elderly, it’s not uncommon to work with patients of varied ages. You will also gain experience as you work with other members of the interdisciplinary team on the patient’s care — that team may include doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare staff. 

What Education Do You Need?

To become a long-term care nurse, you will need to obtain your associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Make sure your education is accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

After you complete your educational program, you’ll then take the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. You should also earn your Basic Life Support certification if you’re interested in a position in a long-term care role.

Job Responsibilities of an LTC Nurse

Long-term care nurses have many of the same responsibilities as other nursing specialties. However, typical long-term care duties include:

  • Administering medications to patients
  • Helping with or creating comprehensive care plans with interdisciplinary teams
  • Maintaining accurate patient charts and records
  • Assisting medical providers during patient examinations
  • Applying dressings and bandages
  • Counseling families and patients
  • Checking/monitoring vital signs
  • Giving injections
  • Providing wound care
  • Helping with range of motion exercises
  • Setting up and administering IV therapy
  • Preparing patients for transfers
  • Assisting patients with bathing and dressing

As a long-term care nurse, you will provide the day-to-day support necessary for your patients to stay comfortable and be as healthy as possible. 

How to Get into Long-Term Care Nursing

Long-term care nurses need to have a strong background with a solid education and experience to work with the long-term patient population. On top of your Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and passing the NCLEX-RN examination, you will also need to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a nursing home for at least two years to become a long-term care nurse. 

Presently, there isn’t a specific certification required for long-term care nursing, but you should look into certifications for the populations you’re most likely to work with, such as the Gerontological Nursing Certification

Why Work in Long-Term Care?

Becoming a long-term care nurse opens up many opportunities for career and financial growth. The benefits don’t stop there, though: long-term care nurses often find themselves making connections and genuine differences that help enrich their lives as well as the lives of those around them.

Perks of Long-Term Care Nursing

Some of the benefits of long-term care nursing include: 

  • The average pay. Long-term care nurses can expect to earn around $2,006 per week on travel contracts. As a salaried staff member, you can expect to earn between $70,760 and $89,120. That means the hourly rate is around $40.87 for staffed long-term care nurses, but that rate may be increased by working as a travel nurse. You can also increase your pay by getting certified in a specialty or obtaining an advanced degree. 
  • Your career prospects. Long-term care nurses can work as travel, part-time, or full-time nurses. Many long-term care nurses work 40 hours a week and are employed by continuing care communities, skilled nursing facilities, long-term acute care hospitals, hospices, and rehabilitation centers. As a result, you have plenty of options when choosing your place of employment. 
  • Location. You can choose to work in almost any environment, whether you prefer the city life or want to stay rural. Since long-term care facilities are located in all kinds of places, you’ll have the chance to decide on your perfect home environment at the same time as choosing a career you’ll love. 
  • The chance to make real connections. In long-term care settings, you have an opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with patients and their families over time. It’s not uncommon to have patients for months or years at a time.

What Are the Best States To Work in Long-Term Care? 

All states have long-term care nursing needs, but there are some states that are better than others for pay and other factors you’ll want to consider when seeking employment. As of May 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida had the highest number of RNs employed across all specialties, making them good states to work in due to demand.

Find Your Perfect Nursing Job With SHC

As a long-term care nurse, you have the ability to make a real difference in the lives of patients and their loved ones. You’ll build strong relationships and be a guiding light for people dealing with chronic health conditions requiring regular attention and care.
At Supplemental Health Care, we’re here to help you find the perfect role as a long-term care nurse. Whether you’ve just finished your NCLEX-RN or you’ve worked as a nurse for many years, we have a strong nationwide network of employers who are looking for dedicated nurses like you. Get in touch with our team to get started, or visit our job search page to look for a job in the location of your choice.