Nurse Wellness: Preventing Staff Turnover, Improving Care

Nurses are highly susceptible to burnout due to the high care levels they are required to provide. How can nurse wellness prevent staff turnover?

Nursing job growth hit 7% in 2019, which is much faster than the national average. Yet, nursing shortages are rampant in health care organizations,and skilled nursing facilities are no different. 

You might see these same staff turnover trends at your own nursing home or LTCF.. But the good news is that you can reduce or even eliminate turnover at your facility with only a few changes. Learn more below. 

The Nursing Home Staff Turnover Dilemma

By now, you may be wondering: what’s so bad about being short a few nurses? Can’t the rest of your staff make up for the turnover?

Here are the top three reasons high nurse turnover could be negatively impacting your nursing home.

1. Nurse Turnover Costs You Money

A 2020 study found that for each percent change in RN turnover, the average facility gains or loses over $306,000 per year. 

High turnover rates mean you’re constantly losing money on training and retraining staff. And that’s not even to mention the direct losses businesses incur in employee exit costs.

Also, consider the lost productivity while you’re searching for new nurses. Fewer nurses can affect employee morale and, ultimately, impact your residents.

Experience matters and a lack of experience is expensive.

2. Turnover Affects Resident Outcomes

During the COVID pandemic, a study found that overall patient infections were 15% more likely when nursing staff was down. This phenomenon also applies to geriatric care nurses, if not more so. 

The national average ratio of nursing home RNs to residents is 45 minutes of RN time per resident in the nursing home. Studies show that higher staffing levels, lead to  fewer negative health outcomes, including:

  • Pressure ulcers
  • UTIs
  • Hospitalizations
  • Falls
  • Moderate to severe pain

This study indicates that higher fulfillment in nursing capacity results in better outcomes for residents. And the healthier your residents, the fewer DPH survey tags your facility will receive. 

3. High Turnover Leads to Burnout

High staff turnover leads to nurse burnout. This is because having fewer employees means each nurse has to carry extra weight, often pulling additional shifts to meet the needs of residents. That’s not all, though.

In time, burnout leads nurses to seek work elsewhere. The turnover rate at your nursing home then increases, your existing nurses get burnt out, too, and the vicious cycle continues. 

Why Is Your Facility Experiencing Nurse Turnover?

Before you can fix your own nursing shortage, you need to understand its root causes. Research has uncovered two top reasons why nursing home nurses leave their jobs. 

Nurses Feel Overworked and Undervalued

As we mentioned, when nursing vacancies are high due to high turnover, each nurse must take on an increased workload. Doing more work may be sustainable for a little while. But, over time, the stress can add up and lead to burnout.

Burnout can lead to serious mental health conditions. It manifests itself as extreme fatigue, dreading work, and feeling undervalued. If left unaddressed, burnout can lead to depression, anxiety, and increase absenteeism or lead to an increase in disability claims.

Often, nurses who experience burnout quit their jobs. They seek alternative employment where they hope staff wellness needs will be better met. 

Caring for Older Adults Can Be Challenging

Not all nurses at your facility have experience caring for older adult patients. Many nurses have little training in providing basic care to older adults. 

And that’s problematic since eldercare presents many unique challenges that other nursing specialties do not face. For instance:

  • How to foster appropriate nursing home environments
  • How to respect the humanity of older adults
  • How to care for aging adults with memory and behavioral disorders

Failing to properly educate nurses and provide them with skills training in geriatric care can quickly lead to the loss of top talent. Highly skilled nurses will pick up the slack for their less-skilled peers, leading to burnout and the loss of these valuable employees. 

How to Reduce Turnover at Your Nursing Home

Finally, the good news: workplace interventions can reduce burnout and thus turnover at your nursing home. Here are our top tips for reducing turnover at your nursing home. 

Hire More Nurses

When you have enough nurses on staff, your employees feel less overworked. And when they feel less overworked, they will be less prone to burnout.

This is why the first step to reducing turnover at your nursing home is to hire more nurses. This is easier said than done but must remain a top priority.

One recent review found that higher nurse-to-nursing home resident ratios led to improved nurse satisfaction. And higher nurse satisfaction, in turn, led to decreased staff turnover. 

Incentivize High-Performing Staff

Once you hire all those new nurses, how do you hold onto them? Workplace incentives can help keep staff motivated and boost nurse morale. 

A 2018 study looked at the effects of rewards on employees. Those nurses incentivized immediately after good behavior and who received rewards frequently were more motivated to complete even the most minute workplace tasks.

Further, eventually removing those incentives didn’t diminish the effect on morale. The researchers determined that this showed how immediate rewards can foster long-term job satisfaction and decrease turnover. 

Provide Professional Development

Providing skills training and professional development for nurses is an excellent way to retain talent. Your staff can maximize their skills, grow their knowledge base, and learn techniques for dealing with complicated patient groups. 

The Engage with™ Skills Training Program is an online training program that can teach your nurses skills specific to older adults that they can use in the workplace. Our program uses evidence-based training to provide your staff with the skills they need to work with older adults. 

Engage with™ Skills Training Programs can help you boost employee satisfaction and improve staff interactions with your residents. And this skills training has been shown to reduce turnover by up to 40%. 

Get Engage with™ Skills Training for Your Nursing Home

Nurse turnover is costing you money and affecting patient outcomes. But the good news is that there are solutions. Hiring more nurses, offering employee incentives, and providing nurses with skills training have been shown to help reduce turnover.

Ready to try Engage with™ Skills Training? Contact us today and finally stop stressing about nursing staff turnover at your skilled nursing facility.


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