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Rewarding Career Paths Available

Long term care careers offer:

•    Job Security
•    Career Growth
•    Flexible Hours
•    Portable Skills
•    Personal Fulfillment
•    Rewarding. Experience
Choosing or changing your career is an important decision. There are many job opportunities available today, and the key to making the right career choice is knowing what opportunities are available and what requirements are needed for entry and for advancement.

Fortunately for those who choose a career in long-term care, they can rest assured that they have chosen a profession with a very secure future. By year 2030, 33 million people will be seniors and one in five will need some type of long-term care. With demographics like these, it is no wonder long-term care is one of the fastest growing fields of employment.

Job security is not the only thing that makes long-term care an attractive career choice. Advancement opportunities, flexible working hours, competitive benefits and continuing education all contribute to people joining the long-term care profession. Not to mention the personal fulfillment and job satisfaction that comes from knowing when you work in long-term care, you really make a difference in the lives of the people you server.

Today’s long-term care settings typically provide full-service care for the elderly and disabled. Long-term care professionals provide care and services to people in a variety of settings.
They provide services to people needing short-term care while recovering from a medical situation. They provide care to seniors living independently in assisted living who may need supervision or assistance with such things as their meals or medications.

They care for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals of all ages. And, they serve acutely ill people needing around the clock care in a skilled nursing care center.

Many opportunities exist for you to build a career within a long-term care facility. Not only are there a number of career opportunities — many facilities offer educational programs and scholarship opportunities for individuals who would like to advance in a long-term health-care career.

Continuing education programs are offered within facilities, at local colleges and universities, and through technical schools and skilled nursing care center area training centers. All of these sources provide the basis for a career ladder within long-term care.

The ability to progress from Nurse Assistant to Staff Nurse to Charge Nurse to Director of Nursing has allowed many individuals the ability to increase their education and income, and remain in a setting they know and are comfortable with. Because retaining dedicated individuals is important to the long-term care facility, opportunities for scholarships or educational allowances are available to many employees.

Whatever the care setting, good employees are vital to the quality of care each patient receives. Long-term caregivers do more than provides quality care to our loved ones and respected elders. They also give them love, patience and concern. They have dedicated their careers to helping others. While this type of work can be emotionally demanding, many who work in long-term care say the rewards outweigh the demands and the satisfaction they gain from helping others is worth more than words can express.

The Rewarding Opportunities of Long-term Care

Our growing population of seniors, rehabilitation patients, and intellectually disabled individuals need caring, compassionate and fun-loving people to help provide their care and companionship. They need people who enjoy helping others. People who respect and value the contributions of our elders and individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.

They need people who always find the positive in often challenging situations because they know an uplifting spirit and friendly smile can go a long way in making someone feel better about themselves and the circumstances surrounding them.

They may, in fact, need someone just like you.


Why Not Consider a Career in Long-Term Care?

Selecting a field of study or changing a career is an important decision. There are many job opportunities available today. And the key to making the right decision is matching your personal traits and professional goals with a career that gives you high job satisfaction and financial security.

For the right person, long-term care can offer many rewarding benefits. Of course, there are the practical returns of good pay and fringe benefits. More important, long-term care careers offer emotional rewards to professionals through the daily contact and growing relationships formed in a nursing facility, assisted living residence or facility for the intellectually disabled.

Here is a small glimpse of benefits you can find from choosing a career in long-term care:

Employment Security

Fortunately for those who choose a career in long-term care, they can rest assured that they have chosen a profession with a very secure future. By year 2030, 33 million people will be seniors and one in five will need some type of long-term care. With our quickly aging population, it is no wonder long-term care is one of the fastest growing fields of employment.

Advancement

Long-term care offers individuals with a variety of educational backgrounds a place to start a rewarding career. Many long-term care employees have progressed from nursing assistant to registered nurse, from social service designee to licensed social worker, from dietary aid to dietician, from activities assistant to certified activities professional, even from accounting clerk to certified public accountant. Some growth opportunities require addition education, while others simply require advanced skill and training. Either way, most long-term care employers value and encourage professional growth by offering continuing education, career ladders, tuition assistance and scholarships.

Solid Earnings & Job Flexibility

Long-term care professionals make a good living wage, and advancement is often rewarded with higher pay. Most employers offer an expansive benefit program that often covers health care, disability and retirement planning.

Flexible working hours are also something beneficial to long-term care careers. From day shifts to night shifts and from part-time to on-call, long-term care careers offer many flexible options professionals have come to enjoy.

Emotional Rewards

Nothing can come close to matching the emotional satisfaction of a long-term care career.

Providing 24-hour care to frail, recovering and disabled individuals can be physically and mentally challenging. However, when a resident or patient touches your hand in thanks, or when they smile in joy from a story they just shared with you, or when they take another small step towards recovery or comfort, the emotional fulfillment you experience is truly unmatched by any other profession. These rewards are not measurable, and make long-term care a truly unique and wonderful career. Knowing you are making a real difference in the lives of the people you serve and care for everyday is truly the rewarding experience of long-term care.

Is Long-term Care for You?

Individuals from all backgrounds and educational levels choose careers in long-term care. Why? Because most of these individuals share certain personal traits and characteristics that lead to enjoyment and satisfaction in their jobs. A long term care career may appeal to you if you:
  • Like your work to be meaningful.
  • Want to help people, in particular the elderly, recovering and disabled.
  • Enjoy solving problems.
  • Find fulfillment in adding “joy” to people recovering from an injury or illness and “fun” to the lives of people living with physical and mental handicaps.
  • Seek job security and professional growth.
Long-term care employees have a high degree of emotional investment in their positions, and an equal amount of emotional satisfaction from those they care for. Maybe, long-term care is right for you.

How Do I Pursue a Career in Long-term Care?

There are many sources in which to turn to seek more information and guidance on long-term care careers. If you are attending high school or college, talk with your guidance counselor about the various educational opportunities this profession brings. It would also be useful for you to visit a nursing facility, assisted living community or inter-mediate care facility for the mentally retarded. Talk with the administrator and learn about opportunities in their organization. Just like with any service industry, different long-term care facilities have different management practices and care philosophies, but the general sense of caring for those in need remains universal.

For Specific Job Opportunities

Choosing a career in long-term care can truly be a rewarding experience. We hope this primer gives you a quick glimpse inside this growing and fulfilling profession, and encourages you to find out whether a long-term care career is right for you.

The long-term care field offers careers in a variety of allied health professions. In the following you will find a comprehensive listing of the variety of positions available in today’s long term care facilities, followed by a more in-depth look at some of the jobs we have highlighted. Use the contacts for additional information on these opportunities. These include:

ACTIVITIES

Activity Director
The Activity Director plans, organizes and develops the overall operation of the Activity Department to assure that an on-going program of activities is available to meet the interests and the physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident.
The Activity Director participates in formulating the plan of care for each resident, and ensures that the proper activities are presented to fit the plan.

The Activity Director must be an occupational therapist or therapy assistant, or therapeutic recreation specialist; or have two years of experience in a social or recreational program within the last five years preceding date of hire, one of which was full time in a patient activities program; or be eligible for certification by a recognized accrediting body as a therapeutic recreation specialist or activities professional or have completed at least 90 hours of training covering activities programs from a technical or vocational school, college, university or other educational institutions.

Recreational Therapy
Recreational Therapy is designed to provide individuals with therapeutic regimens enabling them to participate in recreational activities. The recreational therapist provides programs and activities that are useful in preparing an individual to return to a full range of activities after an extended period of convalescence.

Activity Assistants
Activity Assistants are responsible for assisting in the day-to-day programs in the activity department. Working with patients one-on-one or in group activities, the assistant helps the Activity Director in conducting programs. Aides may be responsible for setting up and removing equipment or materials; transporting residents to and from various activities, and for assisting patients in various exercises.

Activity Assistants must have an adequate education, and depending on job functions within the facility, may be required to complete a nurse aide training course and pass a state-mandated test on knowledge and skills.

ADMINISTRATION

A variety of administrative, financial and other non-medical employment options are available within the long-term care environment.

Receptionist
As the first contact a potential resident, family member and the public has with the nursing facility, the receptionist plays a key role within the organization. The Receptionist performs clerical functions under the direction of the Administrator or Assistant Administrator, and is also responsible for answering the telephone, determining the nature of the call, and directing the caller to the appropriate individual or department. The Receptionist may also respond to inquiries and release information in accordance with the facility’s policies.

The Receptionist must have a high school diploma, and should have experience in a clerical position or have completed appropriate training courses.

Bookkeeper
The Bookkeeper/Accounting Clerk assists in the day-to-day accounting functions of the facility, and must understand the principles of accounting and cost reimbursement for Medicare, Medicaid and other payors. Many times, the Bookkeeper must deal directly with patients and families regarding their accounts and payments. The Administrator and/or the facility accountant direct the Bookkeeper.

The Bookkeeper must have as a minimum one-year experience in bookkeeping and accounting practices; experience in health care accounting may be preferred.

Administrator
The primary duty of the long-term care facility Administrator is to direct the day-to-day functions of the facility in accordance with current federal, state, and local standards, guidelines and regulations that govern long-term care facilities, to assure that the highest degree of quality care can be provided to residents at all times. The Administrator is delegated the administrative authority, responsibility and accountability necessary for carrying out his or her duties.

A Bachelor’s Degree is necessary; a degree in Public Health or Business Administration is preferred. The Administrator must also complete course requirements and pass an examination to be licensed by the state.

Marketing & Admissions
Responsible for generating business and working with prospective clients, marketing and admissions personnel deal with families, hospitals and social service agencies to ensure that the facility is a good fit for individuals needing long term care. Marketing and admissions personnel may have specific training in these areas.

Human Resources
Human resources personnel are responsible for recruitment and retention of employees, as well as maintaining records, benefits plans and other personnel related functions. The Human Resources Director may be responsible for hiring, discipline, and outplacement of employees. The Human Resources Director may have a business degree in human resources, or may have experience in personnel management.

Admissions Coordinator
The admissions coordinator works with patients and their families to ensure that all requirements for admission to the long-term care facility are met. In and around this position are positions for marketing and public relations to support census development and community relations for the long-term care setting.

Accounting and Billing
A variety of positions exist in and around the billing and accounting services of the long-term care setting. Generally, these positions deal with verification of benefits, questions regarding forms of payment, compilation of data to support billings and other billing and collection responsibilities.

Medical Records Clerk
Medical records personnel are responsible for overseeing the accurate and timely documentation of medical services to residents. This includes everything from coding of treatment for reimbursement purposes to reviewing care plans to ensure coordination of services in accomplishing overall care goals.

Long-term care facilities also employ qualified individuals in the following areas:
•    Supplies & Purchasing
•    Risk Management/Quality Assurance
•    Environmental Services/Housekeeping
•    Engineering/General Maintenance
•    Safety/Security
•    Staff Education & Training
•    Personnel Administration

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES

Housekeeping
The Director of Housekeeping, Housekeeping Supervisor, and Housekeepers are responsible for assuring that routine cleanliness of the facility is maintained, and that environmental safety, infection control, and sanitation are upheld.

Housekeeping and maintenance staff coordinate efforts to ensure total coverage of the facility.
Experience varies depending on position, from a high school education and no experience, to one year experience in a supervisory capacity with training in environmental and infection control practices and procedures.

Laundry
Director of Laundry Services, Supervisor, and Laundry Aides are responsible for collecting, cleaning, and distributing facility and residents’ laundry. Laundry staff is responsible for upkeep and maintenance of laundry equipment; ordering and purchasing of appropriate supplies; and ensuring that infection control and sanitation standards are upheld.
Experience varies depending on position, from a high school education and no experience, to one year experience in a supervisory capacity with training in laundry services, environmental and infection control practices and procedures.

Maintenance
The primary duty of the long-term care facility maintenance staff is the day-to-day upkeep and maintenance of the facility, equipment, and grounds. General repair work to more sophisticated knowledge of utilities, heating and air conditioning, power supply, safety equipment, including sprinkler systems, is required. Maintenance staff includes the Director of Environmental Services, Maintenance Supervisor, and Maintenance

Technicians and Aides
Education and experience requirements vary, but may include technical study on systems, as well as training in plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation systems, and other specific skills.

FOOD SERVICES

Dietitian
The dietitian may be hired full time, part time or as a consultant and is responsible for planning, managing, evaluating and implementing nutritional services for the residents as well as oversee the development and implementation of policies and procedures to assure compliance with skilled nursing care center rules . . . local, state and federal laws and accrediting agency regulations.

In addition, the dietitian is responsible for educating residents about nutrition and administering medical nutrition therapy as part of the health care team. To meet the criteria to earn the RD credential, dietitians must complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US regionally accredited university or college and course work approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Complete a CADE-accredited or approved supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation, or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run six to twelve months in length. Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. Be licensed in the state of Ohio. State requirements are met through the same education and training required becoming a RD.

Dietetic Technicians
A dietetic technician is a graduate of an associate’s degree program at a US regionally accredited college or university. A dietetic technician must complete a dietetic technician program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) including 450 hours of supervised practice experience in various community programs, healthcare, and food service facilities. In addition, they must pass a national written examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration or college or university approved by the ADA or the Ohio Board of Dietetics. A dietetic technician functions under the supervision of a licensed dietitian and may complete nutritional assessments to determine nutritional needs of the resident including enteral and parental, conduct preventative nutrition counseling or education, conduct curative and restorative heath care and may help treat and prevent diseases and administer medical nutrition therapy as part of the health care team. The dietetic technician may oversee food purchasing, preparation and service within the food service operation.

Food Service Supervisor
The Food Service Supervisor assists the Dietitian in planning, organizing, developing, and directing the overall operations of the Dietary Department and must work in collaboration with the dietitian and receives consultation from a qualified dietitian. The Food Service Supervisor oversees the Cooks and Dietary Aides, and is responsible to the Administrator and Dietitian.
The Food Service Supervisor must possess a high school diploma. A food service manager must successfully complete a food service course approved by the Director of Health. He or she should also have experience in a supervisory capacity in a medical facility, and training in cost control, food management, diet therapy, etc.

Dietary Aide
The Dietary Aide provides daily assistance in all dietary functions as directed by the Food Service Supervisor, Dietitian, or other supervisory staff. The Dietary Aide serves and assists in serving meals, sets up meal trays, checks special diet trays before distribution, assists the cook in preparing meals, prepares and delivers snacks, and washes dishes and cleans dietary areas as necessary. The Dietary Aide often has direct contact with patients and plays a vital role in ensuring that mealtime is a pleasant experience.

The Dietary Aide must have an adequate education, and will receive on-the-job training in dietary skills.

Cook
The nursing facility Cook helps prepare daily meals and snacks for all residents of the nursing facility. The Cook is responsible to the Head Cook and Director of Food Services to assure that quality food service is provided at all times. The Cook must review menus prior to preparation of food, and must inspect special diet trays to ensure that they are correct. The Cook should have dietary experience, preferably in a hospital, nursing or other medical facility.

NURSING SERVICES

Specialized and personalized nursing care is provided by three separate levels of nursing staff.

Nurse Aide
The Nurse Assistant or Nurse Aide is responsible for providing assigned residents with routine daily nursing care. The Nurse Aide has direct contact with facility residents on a continual basis, and is generally responsible for providing continuity of care for each resident he or she is responsible for. The Nurse Aide reports to nursing supervisors and the Director of Nursing.
The Nurse Assistant must have an adequate education, and must pass a state-mandated test on knowledge and skills. Depending on prior training, he or she may be required to complete a nurse aide training course.

Registered Nurse
A Registered Nurse must hold a current license in Ohio to practice as a registered nurse and may serve as supervisors or charge nurses in long term care. They are responsible for the day-to-day nursing activities in their assigned areas and provide nursing care through special knowledge and skill obtained through education. They also provide direct nursing care to residents. The Registered Nurse may perform administrative duties, assess health status, provide health counseling, and teaching, and administer various mediations and treatments to patients that are prescribed by a physician. He or she may serve under the direction of the Administrator and the

Licensed Practical Nurse
A licensed practical nurse must hold a current valid nursing license in Ohio to practice as a licensed practical nurse. A licensed practical nurse functions in long term care under the direction of a physician or registered nurse. A licensed practical nurse is responsible for patient teaching, contributing to the planning implementation and evaluation of nursing as well as administering mediations and treatments prescribed by a licensed physician.

Director of Nursing
The Director of Nursing, or DON, plans, organizes and directs the overall operation of nursing services within the facility. The DON oversees Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and may oversee other clinical staff, and is generally responsible for ensuring proper staffing of the facility. The DON may also be responsible for hiring and firing of nursing staff. The Director of Nursing is responsible to the Administrator and the Medical Director. In the absence of a Medical Director, he or she is responsible for carrying out the resident-care policies established by the facility.

The DON must possess, as a minimum, a Registered Nursing license in the state of Ohio. The Director of Nursing generally has experience as a supervisor in a health-care facility, and must have training and experience in rehabilitation and restorative nursing and also must have a general knowledge of both Medicare and Medicaid.

SOCIAL SERVICES

Social workers provide medically related social services to attain or maintain the highest practical physical, mental and psycho-social well-being of each resident. Social workers insure proper placement of residents in long-term care settings based upon their needs. Social workers require a 4-year college degree and must be licensed.

Director of Social Services
The Director of Social Services plans, develops, organizes and directs the social service programs of the facility. The Social Services Department reviews facility policies and procedures, is responsible for coordinating patient admissions and discharges, and works with families, residents and visitors to ensure a smooth transition and adjustment to and from the long-term care facility.

The Director of Social Services must have a Bachelor’s Degree from an approved school of social work, and be licensed as a social worker. He or she must have, as a minimum, one year experience in a health care setting working directly with individuals.

Social Service Aides
Social Service Aides are responsible for assisting in the day-to-day activities of the department. Working with patients one-on-one or in group functions, the aides assist the Social Worker in conducting programs. Aides may be responsible for setting up and removing equipment or materials; transporting residents to and from various activities, and for assisting patients in various programs.

Social Service Aides must have an adequate education, and depending on job functions within the facility, may be required to complete a nurse aide training course and pass a state-mandated test on knowledge and skills.

REHABILITATION SERVICES

The most common therapy services provided within various long-term care settings are as follows:

Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy is designed to provide residents with appropriate treatments in exercise, range-of-motion, coordination, and other rehabilitation functions. Physical Therapy is often provided following surgical procedures, accident or traumatic injury, and to aid in strengthening and reconditioning following extended illness or inactivity.

Speech Therapy
Individuals who have suffered traumatic illness or injury, or who have certain brain disorders may benefit from Speech Therapy. Speech Therapy works to not only improve the ability of an individual to speak, but also helps restore control over language, writing, and the cognitive link between these functions.

Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy is designed to assist individuals to perform tasks that may be used on a day-to-day basis, either in an occupation or at home. While concentrating on job-related skills, Occupational Therapy is useful in preparing an individual for returning to a home setting after an extended period of convalescence.

Therapy Assistants
The Therapy Assistant or Aide is responsible for providing assigned residents with specific treatments as designated by the appropriate Therapist. The Therapy Assistant has direct contact with facility residents on a continual basis, and is generally responsible for providing continuity of care for each resident he or she is responsible for. The Therapy Assistant reports to the appropriate Therapist.

The Therapy Assistant must have an adequate education, and must pass a state-mandated test on knowledge and skills. Depending on prior training, he or she may be required to complete a nurse aide training course. Additional training may be required in the appropriate therapies.