Lines now closed
- Click here to Request a Callback

What is the Role of a Nurse in a Nursing Home?

11th June 21

Nurses who work within care, residential or nursing homes are highly skilled professionals. They have in-depth knowledge of the many long-term conditions associated with ageing. And they’re adept at managing multiple complex morbidities and frailty. But if you don’t have experience in these environments, you’ll likely be unsure of what’s involved in the role of a nurse in a nursing home.

Nurses working in these environments provide custodial care to adults with medical conditions that have caused their health to deteriorate. It differs from nursing in hospitals and healthcare settings as the care you provide to individuals is more holistic. And as such, the approach you take is different, as are the duties you’ll perform.

There will be occasions you will work with patients who suffer periods of severe ill-health or deal with death. But for the most part, the patients you work with will be in good health and going about their lives at home. You will get to know each of them as individuals and create a positive and supportive relationship with both them and their families.  

This isn’t something you can build with patients in other areas of nursing where your time with them is limited. Which makes your role arguably more rewarding as your care extends past their medical needs.

If the idea of nursing in this environment appeals to you, it’s wise to find out exactly what’s involved. So you can be sure it’s for you and align yourself with the desirable skills and character traits.

Find out more about the role of a nurse in a nursing home and how to become one below.

learndirect - nursing home nurse

The Role of a Nursing Home Nurse

As a nurse in a nursing home, you’re employed to care for people who need complex nursing interventions. There will be other care staff who are trained to work with these individuals but they aren’t trained and regulated in the way that nurses are.

You and other nurses in the home will provide 24-hour care and supervise the care provided by other staff members. There may be times when you’re the only qualified person on shift. So you’ll assume the management responsibilities for everyone in the organisation at that time.

This could be taking responsibility for the care of anything from 10 to 30 patients with staff support. You’ll need to delegate tasks to your team and, as such, you’ll need to be comfortable taking charge. Also taking control of other aspects of running the nursing home like admin, security procedures and workplace health and safety.

Where you work with patients with conditions like dementia, you’ll need to be able to de-escalate any aggressive behaviour or calm down individuals who have become confused. You’ll also need to manage the environment when distressing situations arise, administer medication and provide multifaceted end-of-life care. In this case, you will keep in close communication with family, the GP and the hospital as conditions can deteriorate rapidly.

As your patients can have multiple complex needs, you’ll need to write care plans that meet them. You’ll also liaise with GPs, hospitals, therapists, families and any other necessary community teams.

learndirect - become a nurse in a nursing home

The Skills You’ll Need

Providing person-centred care to people in an often fragile state requires a certain set of skills. These are different to nurses in hospitals or clinics as your care is concentrated on your resident's ongoing needs. And that’s why you have more involvement with the case management of your patients.

Desirable skills include:

  • Acute care
  • Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)
  • Case management
  • Home Health
  • Hospice care
  • Medical administration
  • Patient/family education
  • Patient evaluation
  • Patient care
  • Treatment planning

Besides these workplace skills, you’ll need to demonstrate you also have the desirable character traits needed for the role.

These include:

  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • A comforting demeanour
  • Reassuring and calming nature
  • Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills to work with patients who are unable to see, hear or talk.

learndirect - skills for nursing home nurses

Become a Nursing Home Nurse

If the idea of becoming a nurse in a nursing home appeals, you’ll first need to obtain a nursing qualification. This must be approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to gain registration and you typically have the choice of:

  • Child nursing
  • Adult nursing
  • Learning disability nursing
  • Mental health nursing

All of these with provide you with valuable skills. But the ones likely to be the most helpful to your nursing home career are adult and mental health nursing. That’s because the syllabus will focus more on the medical conditions people typically face as they age. Or the mental health challenges and enduring disorders that they have or develop over time.

As such, both adult and mental health nurses have cross-over skills that benefit them in nursing home environments. They will be able to work well with various patient challenges and in homes with specific dementia and frailty units.

However, there are nursing homes that specialise in learning disabilities and will want to recruit nurses with learning disabilities registration.

Either way, once you have completed your chosen nursing qualification, you can begin aligning yourself with the role. You are able to apply as soon as you are in your final 6 months of training. And as you gain experience in this career, you can progress into senior positions. You could become part of the management team, a nursing home manager or even a specialist practitioner. Such as an admiral nurse (dementia specialist).

learndirect - get starting in a caring career

Get started with an Access to HE Diploma

To go to university and study for an approved degree, you’ll need to meet the entry requirements. This used to only be a combination of GCSEs and A Levels. But these days the courses you can take pre-degree are more varied.

Originally, you would need to have:

By studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing), you’ll learn essential topics for all nursing degrees. Providing learners with education focussed on the role, removes the need for multiple A Levels covering broader topics.

The modules included also help you prepare for study at the degree level. Which is particularly useful if you’ve been out of education for some time.

Within this course, you will learn about social factors in the health and social care and the human muscular-skeletal system. These and the other highly relevant topics covered will help you get a great head start ahead of your nursing degree.

As you can complete the materials at a time that suits you, most learners complete these courses within 9 months. Giving you the ability to apply to university within a year and cut the time it takes to qualify.

learndirect is the leading UK distance learning provider, with hundreds of online courses to help you reach your career goals.

Move towards becoming a nursing home nurse with our Access to HE Diploma (Nursing). Click the link below to find out more.

learndirect - study a nursing degree with an Access to HE Diploma

Sign up to our Newsletter