A Key to Keeping Caregivers: Transformative Onboarding Practices in Older Adult Care

In the post-pandemic era, the long-term care sector faces a critical challenge: high turnover rates among caregivers. The stakes are especially high in environments caring for older adults, where continuity and quality of care are paramount. Emerging studies, including Viventium’s 2024 Caregiver Onboarding Experience Report and the research by Yu-Jung Chang, provide compelling evidence that refining the onboarding process could be the linchpin in retaining skilled care staff.

The Critical Link: Onboarding and Retention

Viventium’s report reveals a stark reality: the bar for what passes as a “good” onboarding experience in home-based and facility/community-based care remains disconcertingly low. However, there’s a silver lining. “Staffing shortages and high turnover rates within post-acute care are recurring issues in need of solutions,” states Navin Gupta, CEO of Viventium. He adds, “Our research illuminates a crucial pathway towards addressing these persistent challenges, and it begins with onboarding.”

Similarly, Yu-Jung Chang’s study underscores that a well-designed onboarding process not only enhances job satisfaction but crucially leads to long-term employee retention. Chang’s approach utilizes service design tools to create effective and smooth onboarding, emphasizing the perspective of new hires to identify and mitigate challenges early in their career journey.

Simplicity and Impact

One of the striking findings from the Viventium report is the simplicity of effective solutions. William A. Dombi, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, reflects on the study’s implications: “Many of the elements of successful onboarding are simple improvements in the process that bring a real return on investment.”

This sentiment is echoed in Chang’s study, which demonstrates that straightforward enhancements, such as reducing paperwork and customizing materials to be culturally and linguistically appropriate, can make significant differences. Both studies illustrate that these changes are within the control of the employer and do not necessitate extensive resources or overhaul.

The Managerial Role: Catalyst for Change

Both pieces of research highlight the pivotal role of management in the success of onboarding programs. Effective leadership is not just about overseeing operations but actively engaging in the creation of a nurturing and welcoming environment for new hires. Managers are instrumental in implementing the best practices that define a successful onboarding experience.

Industry-Specific Strategies

For the long-term care sector, adapting onboarding strategies that address specific industry challenges—such as emotional demands of the job, the need for compassionate caregiving, and continuous professional development—is crucial. These tailored strategies can ensure that caregivers feel valued and understood, which is essential for their retention.

Conclusion: A Call to Action

The evidence is clear: improving onboarding processes in post-acute care settings can significantly boost retention rates. This is not just beneficial for the careg staff and their patients/residents but also for the broader health system, which relies on the stability and expertise of its workforce to deliver quality care.

Leaders in the care sector are encouraged to view onboarding not just as a procedural necessity but as a strategic tool for workforce stabilization and enhancement. As the industry continues to evolve, the organizations that prioritize thoughtful, well-structured onboarding processes will be better positioned to attract, retain, and empower the caregivers who are so vital to our society.

By bridging the gap between emerging research and practical application, the long-term care sector can transform a perennial challenge into a remarkable opportunity for growth and improvement.

References:

  1. Viventium’s 2024 Caregiver Onboarding Experience Report – Viventium. (2024). Retrieved from Viventium’s Website
  2. Building An Effective Hiring and Smooth Employee Boarding Process – Company X – Chang, Yu-Jung. (2023). Master’s Thesis, Turku University of Applied Sciences. Retrieved from Theseus
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