Learn more about building a career in long term services and supports
Learn more about the different types of jobs available in long term services and supports. You'll be surprised at the variety of opportunities available! Read our brief position descriptions to get a better idea!
You can learn more about building a career in long term services and supports and the specific jobs available at your local nursing and rehab facility, assisted living program, residential care facility or home health agency providers by visiting their website or stopping in to inquire. To find provider employers near you, use the IHCA Provider Finder.
What is it like to work in long term services and supports?
There comes a time when aging spouses cannot care for one another or sons, daughters and grandchildren cannot provide the care necessary to keep their parent, grandparent or other elderly loved one safe at home. It is a difficult time for all, but it is also comforting to know there are trained caregivers and medical professionals who can provide the care and support family members are not trained or equipped to deliver.
This is where Iowa's long term services and supports providers come in. Nursing and rehabilitation centers, assisted living programs, residential care facilities and home health agencies have staff members who are highly trained medical professionals and supportive caregivers to fill the void for families. These providers make around-the-clock care available for the frail elderly and people with chronic diseases.
The need for workers in these settings is expanding because Iowa's population is aging and living longer. As they age, Iowans are living with conditions and chronic diseases that require monitoring and assistance. Because the frail elderly are still functional in many aspects of life, the role of providers is to not only monitor and address health care needs, but to provide services that promote and improve their quality of life.
Working in long term services and supports can be physically and emotionally difficult, but the rewards can be immeasurable. Workers form bonds with their patients and patients’ families and take great joy and rewards from serving others to make their lives better.
Days will be unpredictable
A caregiver in a LTSS setting helps patients groom, get ready for the day and do stimulating activities. Certain patients struggle physically, others struggle cognitively due to dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Some struggle with both, and patient depression may be a factor as well. Days vary as much as the needs of residents vary. Caregivers have to be up to any challenge.
Working in the field requires flexibility to address the varying physical, cognitive and social needs of residents. "Every day is different in its challenges and rewards," says Julie Adair, IHCA Vice President, Home Care & Workforce. "Accepting the challenge of bringing good work ethic and upbeat attitude to work everyday is one element that leads to success in the long term services and supports profession."
Most long term services and supports providers require 24-hour staffing, which means your shift may change to accommodate patients’ needs and other employees’ time off. But this can also be a good thing as it can create opportunities to learn different roles and responsibilities in the organization. Providers also welcome employees who are able to work odd hours and odd days, both full and part time.
You’ll build close relationships
The intimate nature of long term services and supports means you’ll likely build strong relationships with the residents, their families and other caregivers.
"A long term services and supports career is as much about relationship building as it is caregiving," said Adair. "Residents can be like family as you learn more about their lives and hear the stories they share. You find yourself wanting to do your best to ensure their health and happiness in their aging journey."
That benefit of building close connection comes with emotional challenges, as well. "It can be difficult to get some family members to the point where they can accept a loved one's degenerative situation," said Adair. "It takes knowledge and skill to communicate with family members who do not have a good understanding of the progress."
And because you build these relationships, resident deaths can be tough. “If you've done your job well, you can take comfort in knowing you've made their last years, months, days, and even moments, as comfortable and love-filled as possible," said Julie. "That is the gift of this profession. Giving back - with care and comfort - to deserving people who have lead good lives."
You will also be part of a caregiving team that - even with different roles and responsibilities - are focused on the same mission of delivering quality care and services. "The bonds developed by co-workers are a big part of your success in this profession," Julie said. "Being a team player and helping each other grow in knowledge, skills and work ethic are vital to making a job into a career!"
Have questions about a profession in long term services and supports? Contact Julie Adair, IHCA Vice President, Home Care and Workforce at 800.422.3106. Julie will be happy to answer your questions and help direct you toward the resources to start you on your way to a quality career in caring!
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