A group home worker can work with a varying range of patients to help them develop life skills until they are ready to live independently. If you prefer to work in a setting where you can help people reach their goals and change their direction in life, becoming one of the many types of group home workers that exist today could be the ideal career path for you.
Note that as a social worker who acts as a liaison and also a teacher, you will be expected to play very crucial roles in the lives of people who truly need your help.
A group home is more or less a private residence for specific types of residents to live in to receive support and treatment. Note that these residents can be adults who have been diagnosed with mental illness or seniors who have suffered a fall and need to recoup from their disability.
Also note that some group homes treat the mentally ill and the disabled, and others house young residents who cannot live with their families owing to behavioral issues or for residents who suffer from substance abuse. Some group homes are more commonly referred to as Residential Care Facilities.
Residents in these group home residential environments require supervision and assistance in many cases. As a worker who supervises and assists the residents, you cannot expect one day to be just like the other. One of the primary duties you have in a group home is liaison.
You will be expected to keep communication between the residents and law enforcement agencies, families, or community organizations open to update these parties on the status of the residents. You may also arrange social services for the residents when necessary.
Also note that monitoring the behavior of residents is quite necessary, especially in a situation when the residents are known to have had a troubled past. As a group home social worker, you will help and resolve disputes, search resident’s property for dangerous items, and in some cases drug test the residents.
Duties of a Group Home Worker
One of the primary duties of a group home worker is teaching the residents to develop skills so that they can live independently in the future. You may be expected to teach residents about hygiene, meal preparation, taking medications, cleaning the home, going to work, and other life skills. Workers will take their residents to and from appointments while they live in the home.
Group home staff members are known to be direct care workers who provide personal care to different demographics. With a good percentage of seniors requiring direct care after a disability, the demand for group care workers is only expected to keep growing.
Notably, there will be a need for more professionals in the public setting in the next few years. If you would like a rewarding career, study to become a group home worker and choose the setting you would like to work in.
Pros and Cons of Working in a Group Home
If you are considering working in a group home, then you may be wondering what the upsides and downsides are. There are, on balance, more good points than bad, but it’s always ideal to consider both sides before you jump into anything. Here are the Pros and cons of working in a group home.
- You get to know your residents – and their families: As your residents will be with you for a while, you will have to form very strong bonds with many of them and this almost always extends to their families. If you are caring for the same person for months or years, they become part of your life and vice-versa. This is a very special bond indeed. Working in a hospital or an out-patient department doesn’t even come close!
- You can learn (or improve on) pharmacology skills: A good number of residents in group homes take a variety of medications and as a carer, you will have the platform to make sure they receive the right meds at the right dosages – an invaluable and transferable skill. If you have no nursing or care background, working as a carer will teach you other skills as well; even putting on and taking off disposable gloves involves proper technique!
- Become part of a team: Note that you will be working alongside music therapists, cleaners, psychiatrists, and other carers, all to keep your residents happy and healthy. There’s a unique camaraderie that can develop.
- Lots of variety: Your residents will each have their own profiles and diagnoses, so you’ll see a lot of conditions and learn how to administer a lot of different treatments and therapies.
- It enables you to develop your skills further: Amazing just how much you can learn from teaching or interacting with just one child. Group homes present an opportunity for you to interact with quite a number of them and through activities like teaching, cooking, and other activities undertaken during this period.
- Those strong bonds can hurt: One disadvantage of forming those bonds is painfully obvious – you are looking after seniors or teens and you will see their health declining before the inevitable happens. It hurts to say goodbye to them – and to their families.
- Group homes can have a bad reputation: A good number of people believe that group homes are where residents sit around doing nothing at best and are treated badly at worst. This just isn’t the case and you will find yourself explaining this to people frequently. You will also have to demonstrate this to new residents and their loved ones as well.
- You won’t gain the medical experience you would in a hospital: Have it in mind you won’t gain as much medical experience as you would if you were a hospital nurse – there are some procedures that can only be performed by the trained medical staff on hand or in hospitals. If you are looking to develop these skills, then training as a nurse may be a better option for you.
Steps to Get a Job at a Group Home
Like you already know, workers in the group home settings provide health and personal care services to residents who cannot take care of themselves. The duties of a group home worker include bathing and dressing people, providing light housekeeping services and in some states, checking clients’ vital signs, and giving medications.
Note that states require that workers in a certified group home obtain formal training from elder care programs, home health care agencies, or local colleges. However, here are basic steps to consider if you are looking to get a job in a group home.
- To become a group home worker, you need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may require post-secondary education, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree in social work. Acquire an internship at a group home to gain hands-on experience working with residents.
- Contact the group home in the area of the world that you’d like to work in. Some group homes will only accept volunteers, in which case you should explain in what area you’d like to help: tutoring, teaching music classes, performing construction on site, gardening, etc.
- Email or fax your resume or CV to desired group homes if you have qualifications in an area where they have job openings such as administration, social work, child psychology, etc.
- Ask about required immunizations you might need to receive before working in a group home abroad and get those before traveling.
- Budget your money especially if you will be traveling abroad. Also verify that you have enough money for a plane ticket and living expenses for the amount of time that you’ll be there, especially if you will just be doing volunteer work. Make sure that you know whether your group home will provide accommodation.
- Budget your time if you will be working in the United States. Ensure to set a schedule with the group home which you will follow as a volunteer or worker. Both the institution and the residents will be relying on you, and you want to provide them both with a stable schedule that you can easily follow.
If you are interested in helping others learn basic life skills and live independently, you may find a career as a group home worker to be a fulfilling one. Also, remember that group home staff members are referred to as direct care workers who provide personal care to different demographics.
In the United States, with more and more seniors needing direct care after a disability, the need for group care workers is only predicted to grow. According to reports, there will be a need for thousands of more professionals in the public setting in the next few years. If you would like a rewarding career, study to become a group home worker and choose the setting you would like to work in.