What does a nurse do?
Nurses in long-term care (LTC) give clinical support to residents by delivering curative, supportive, rehabilitative and palliative care using a person-centred approach.
On any given day, nurses in LTC:
- create and give health promotion and prevention services
- document resident health
- look for changes in health
- work with residents and their loved ones to create personal care plans
This page is part of our Careers in Long-Term Care Initiative.
Various clips used in this video were filmed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infection control practices (such as wearing a mask) may be shown.
What skills will I use?
- Interpersonal communication
- Active listening
- Teamwork and collaboration
How do I become an LTC nurse?
Different pathways to nursing in LTC exist but all nurses in LTC require training at the college or university levels, which will include coursework and practical experience. Depending on how much education you want to take, the title of your nursing role and the type of work you are trained for will vary. You need a Bachelor’s degree in nursing to work as a Registered Nurse, while Registered Practical Nurses require a college diploma.
Nurses have options to fill many different roles in LTC homes, depending on the education and experience they have. Many people get into long-term care as PSWs and then go back to school to become a Registered Practical Nurse. Registered Practical Nurses can grow into manager and leadership jobs, like an assistant director of care or home administrator, or they can upgrade their education and experience to become a Registered Nurse. Registered Nurses can also fill the role of director of care within LTC homes. No matter what your title, nurses in LTC get to work the full scope of what they are allowed to do as set out by the governing organizations for nurses.
Registered Practical Nurse (RPN)
RPNs oversee the care to LTC residents in one home area. They may give medications, treat wounds, assess falls, and take care of the clinical parts of admitting residents into LTC homes. RPNs also supervise a team of other roles, such as PSWs giving care to their home area.
Registered Nurse (RN)
RNs oversee the care to residents in an entire LTC home. They may also share the clinical care tasks that RPNs do. RNs tend to be involved in coaching, mentoring and education of other team members. RNs are clinical leaders in testing, care planning, carrying out care and measuring what’s working or not for all residents in an LTC home.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Nurse Practitioners provide clinical health services to LTC residents. NPs can diagnose and treat illnesses, order and make sense of tests and prescribe medications. NPs are graduates from an Ontario University NP program and have extra nursing experience. They must also pass exams set by the College of Nurses of Ontario.