A skilled nursing facility, long-term care facility or nursing home provides for patients who require care 24/7. Patients at a facility like this may include elderly patients, patients recovering from illness or traumatic injury, and patients with chronic or degenerative conditions. CNAs and LPNs provide much of the day to day care in these settings, the RN plays a crucial role in overseeing treatment and making sure that all patients receive the highest standard of care.
In this type of facility some of the patients may not recover enough to live on their own, unlike a hospital setting where patients return home after they recuperate. Many facilities specialize in geriatrics which means caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other conditions that require constant observation and monitoring. There are also facilities that treat patients with traumatic brain injuries or degenerative diseases that have left them permanently impaired. The Registered Nurse in a facility like this will focus on improving the patients quality of life and helping keep chronic conditions under control.
CNAs and LPNs can perform only limited tasks and the RN will perform most of the invasive or complex treatments. The RN may draw blood, administer medications and injections and prepare and insert IV lines. Monitoring each patients health and progress through careful evaluation of each patient, their vital signs and assessing other indications of physical and mental well-being. The RN will also determine the treatment plan for each patient and ensure that the care strategy addresses the long-term needs of the aging process and the conditions the patient is coping with.
A Skilled Nursing Facility must have at least one RN present each day for 8 hours by federal law. Many of these facilities only have one RN on duty at a time and the RN is often the supervisor of the CNAs, LPNs and direct care support staff. The RN must ensure that the patients receive continuous care during shift changes. The RN usually has more experience and training than the other workers in the facility and might be the Head Nurse or Director of Nursing. As the supervisor it is the duty of the RN to delegate tasks, assign employees to specific patients and to monitor the overall quality of care all the patients in the facility are receiving.
Registered Nurses at the Skilled Nursing Facility provide direct bedside care and act as patient advocate and educator. The RN will educate the patient and family members what to expect when dealing with the challenges of aging or specific conditions the patient may have and help them understand what contributions to recovery and long-term wellness they can make. The RN will also inform family members of any changes in the patient’s condition and discuss with them any alterations to the patient’s medication or other treatments. Collaborating with the facility physician to help create and implement patient care plans and notifying the physician if there is a change in the patient’s condition.