Embracing Person-Centered Care: A Journey to the Heart of Older Adult Individuality Through Care

Introduction

Picture a world where the care we give our older adults is as varied and vibrant as their own life stories. This is the promise of person-centered care (PCC)—a philosophy that paints every older adult’s care with the brush of their unique preferences, histories, and dreams. As we step into this world, we find ourselves at a crossroads. While the merits of PCC light the way, there lies a gap wide and deep—the caregivers and healthcare providers, the unsung heroes in the lives of our older adults, are reaching out for the tools and knowledge to turn this promise into practice. This article unfolds the reality of PCC, exploring the vibrant potential it holds for older adults and the collective effort needed to climb the learning curve and infuse every act of care with deep personal significance.

The Heart of Person-Centered Care

Person-centered care (PCC) revolves around a simple yet powerful idea: every older adult is unique, with their own set of preferences, life stories, and needs. This approach is about recognizing and respecting these differences to provide care that’s tailored to each individual.

A significant challenge in implementing PCC, as highlighted in a systematic review by BMC Geriatrics, is that many who provide care to older adults—be it healthcare providers or caregivers—often lack the necessary knowledge and skills for this specialized approach. The review points out, “Older people, healthcare providers, and caregivers lack professional knowledge and skills to implement effective PCC”​​. This statement is a wake-up call, emphasizing the need for more comprehensive training and education in PCC.

So you may be asking yourself why is this training important? Imagine an older adult person who loves music. In a PCC model, caregivers would integrate music into their daily care, perhaps by playing their favorite songs or encouraging musical activities. This is PCC in action— aligning care with personal likes and histories. However, without proper training in PCC principles, caregivers might miss these opportunities to connect care with personal interests.

Take, for example, the case of an older adult with a deep love for gardening. In a PCC approach, caregivers and healthcare providers would recognize this passion and find ways to integrate it into her daily care routine, perhaps by ensuring she has access to a garden or bringing potted plants for her to tend. This not only honors her individuality but also promotes emotional and mental well-being.

Similarly, consider a scenario where an older adult individual strongly values independence. In this case, PCC would focus on empowering him with choices in his daily routine, from selecting meals to deciding on his activity schedule, thereby respecting and upholding his desire for autonomy.

However, to effectively implement such personalized care, a significant gap needs to be bridged. The lack of professional knowledge and skills in PCC, as highlighted by the BMC Geriatrics review, suggests that caregivers and healthcare providers often find themselves unprepared to deliver such nuanced and individualized care.

To address this, there is a need for targeted training programs that not only educate caregivers about the principles of PCC but also equip them with practical tools to apply these principles. This could include training in communication skills to better understand each older adult’s preferences, workshops on creative problem-solving to tailor care plans, and even courses on cultural competence to ensure caregivers are sensitive to the diverse backgrounds of the older adults they serve.

In essence, the heart of person-centered care beats to the rhythm of individuality, calling for a healthcare paradigm shift that sees and treats each older person not just as a patient, but as a unique individual with their own story, preferences, and dignity.

The Six Domains of Person-Centered Care

The concept of person-centered care (PCC) is not a one-dimensional approach but rather encompasses multiple facets that together form a comprehensive model of care. Alexis Coulourides Kogan and colleagues, through their extensive literature review, have distilled PCC into six key domains: holistic care, respect, choice, dignity, self-determination, and purposeful living​​.

  1. Holistic Care: This domain involves addressing not just the physical health needs of older adults but also their mental, emotional, and social well-being. For example, a holistic care plan for an older adult might include regular physical exercise, mental stimulation activities like puzzles or reading, and social interactions through community programs.
  2. Respect: Respecting older adults means acknowledging their life experiences and treating them with the dignity they deserve. This could be as simple as caregivers taking the time to listen to their stories or ensuring their opinions are considered in everyday decisions.
  3. Choice: Empowering the older adult with choices in their daily lives is crucial. This can range from choosing what to wear each day to making decisions about their care plans or activities they wish to participate in.
  4. Dignity: Maintaining the dignity of older adults involves actions like ensuring privacy during medical treatments or personal care activities, and addressing them respectfully.
  5. Self-Determination: This is about enabling the older adult to have a say in how they live their lives. For instance, allowing them to decide their daily routine or involving them in setting goals for their health and care.
  6. Purposeful Living: Helping older adults find purpose and joy in their lives is essential. This could be through encouraging hobbies, facilitating participation in community events, or even providing opportunities for volunteering.

These six domains emphasize a care approach that is deeply rooted in empathy, understanding, and collaboration between caregivers, healthcare providers, and the older adults themselves. By incorporating these domains into care practices, we can ensure a more respectful, dignified, and fulfilling experience for our aging population.

Challenges in Implementation

Implementing person-centered care (PCC) comes with its own set of challenges, despite its clear benefits. The BMC Geriatrics study has identified some key barriers that can make it often challenging to put PCC into practice effectively.

  1. Lack of Knowledge and Skills: Many caregivers and healthcare providers simply don’t have enough training in PCC. For instance, a caregiver might not know how to create a care plan that truly reflects an older adult’s interests and preferences. They might be used to a standard routine that doesn’t consider what the older adult actually enjoys or finds meaningful.
  2. Negative Attitudes Towards Shared Decision-Making: Another challenge is a reluctance to involve older adults in decisions about their own care. Think of a situation where healthcare decisions are made without consulting the older adult it affects. This goes against the PCC principle of respecting and valuing the individual’s choices.

To overcome these obstacles, a collective effort is needed. This means training caregivers, professionals who engage and interact with older adults to understand and apply PCC principles in their daily work. For example, a training program could include workshops on how to communicate effectively with older adults and involve them in decision-making, or it could offer guidance on developing care plans that align with an individual’s unique needs and preferences.

Additionally, the overall older adult care system needs to support this shift towards PCC. This could involve policy changes, like requiring PCC training for certification, or providing resources to older adult care providers to help them adopt a more person-centered approach.

By addressing these challenges head-on, we can make PCC not just an ideal to strive for, but a reality in the care of older adults. This will not only improve the quality of care but also ensure that the care is respectful, dignified, and tailored to each individual’s needs.

Benefits: A Dual Advantage

The concept of person-centered care (PCC) offers significant benefits that extend beyond the well-being of older adults to positively impact those caring for them.

It’s often discovered that PCC not only improves the quality of life for older adults but also enhances satisfaction for caregivers and families. Let’s unpack this concept with a real-world example of how the benefits of PCC can often extend beyond the older adults being cared for:

  1. For Older Adults: Imagine an older woman named Joan who loves painting. In a PCC approach, her care plan would include time for her to paint, maybe even organizing visits to local art galleries. This not only brings joy to her daily life but also encourages mental engagement and emotional expression, directly improving her quality of life.
  2. For Caregivers: On the other side, there’s Mike, one of Joan’s caregivers. By helping Joan with her painting, he feels a sense of fulfillment and pride in his work. He’s not just performing tasks; he’s making a real difference in someone’s life. This job satisfaction is a key aspect of PCC—it can lead to lower turnover rates among staff and a more positive work environment.
  3. For Families: Joan’s family members are also impacted. Seeing Joan’s spirits uplifted through her personalized care, they feel more at ease and confident in the care she’s receiving. They can enjoy their time with Joan, knowing that her individual needs and passions are being honored and encouraged.

This “dual advantage” means that PCC is beneficial for everyone involved. Older adults like Joan live a life that’s still full of the activities and choices they love. Caregivers like Mike enjoy more meaningful work. And families are assured that their loved ones are cared for with dignity and respect, echoing the holistic impact of PCC.

The Future of Older Adult Care

Looking forward, it’s essential that those caring for and engaging with older adults embrace the principles of person-centered care (PCC). To make this happen, we need a clear and common understanding of what PCC means and what it requires—like a recipe that all caregivers, older adult care professionals and health professionals can follow.

For example, picture a GPS system for older adult care. Just as a GPS guides you to your destination, a standardized definition of PCC would guide caregivers in providing the right kind of support. This would be a set of clear directions that every care professional could use to ensure that every older adult, like Mr. Thompson who lives with diabetes and loves jazz music, receives care that keeps him healthy while also allowing him to enjoy his favorite music every day.

And what about the essential elements? Think of these like the main ingredients in a dish. The literature review by Kogan and colleagues suggests we need to identify these “ingredients” for good older adult care. For Mr. Thompson, this could mean making sure his dietary plan for diabetes includes his preferred flavors, or that his exercise routine is set to the rhythm of Louis Armstrong.

This approach acts as a transformational roadmap, ensuring that older adults care systems can consistently deliver care that’s not only medically sound but also personalized to each individual’s life and joys. This way, older adult care can be a journey that respects each person’s preferences and needs, making the experience as comfortable and joyful as possible for them and their families.

Conclusion: Embracing the Full Spectrum of Elderly Care

As the narrative of older adult care unfolds, PCC stands out as the thread that weaves personal identity into the fabric of care. It’s a vibrant mosaic that comes alive when every piece—every older adult’s wish and will—is placed with intention and care. The challenge before us is not insurmountable; it’s an invitation to enrich our skills, to turn empathy into action, and to ensure that the journey through one’s twilight years is as respected and cherished as the decades that came before. Together, we stand on the brink of a care revolution, one where the joy and autonomy of older adults become the touchstone of quality care. Let’s step forward, forging a path where each older adult’s story guides our hands and hearts in their care.

References:

  1. BMC Geriatrics. (2023). Experiences of older people, healthcare providers and caregivers on implementing person-centered care for community-dwelling older people: a systematic review and qualitative meta-synthesis. BMC Geriatrics. Retrieved January 25, 2024, from https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-023-03915-0 .
  2. Kogan, A. C., Wilber, K., & Mosqueda, L. (2015). Person-Centered Care for Older Adults with Chronic Conditions and Functional Impairment: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.13873

Strengthening Long-Term Care: The Importance of Skills Training for Professionals and Caregivers

Long-term care professionals, caregivers, and those interested in the well-being of older adults play a crucial role in shaping the experiences and perceptions of aging. To ensure the highest quality of care and support, it is essential for these individuals to engage in skills training programs that address the challenges and stigmas associated with ageism. This article will explore the benefits and importance of skills training in reducing ageist attitudes and stereotypes while promoting a more positive and inclusive understanding of older adults.

Overcoming Ingrained Ageist Attitudes and Stereotypes

Skills training programs can equip long-term care professionals and caregivers with the knowledge and tools needed to identify and challenge their own ageist beliefs. By understanding the impact of ageism on older adults and recognizing the diversity of their experiences, caregivers can foster more empathetic and compassionate relationships, ultimately improving the quality of care they provide.

Promoting a Positive and Inclusive Image of Older Adults

Training programs that focus on enhancing communication and interpersonal skills can help caregivers and professionals better understand and appreciate the unique strengths and abilities of older adults. This understanding can contribute to more positive and inclusive portrayals of older individuals in media and society, breaking down ageist stereotypes and fostering a greater appreciation for the aging process.

Addressing the Lack of Training and Education in Long-Term Care and Healthcare Settings

In many long-term care and healthcare settings, there is a significant gap in training and education regarding the specific needs of older adults. Skills training programs can fill this void, ensuring that caregivers and professionals are well-equipped to address the unique challenges faced by older individuals. This includes understanding the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes associated with aging, as well as recognizing the importance of person-centered care and individualized approaches.

Enhancing Collaboration and Teamwork

Skills training programs that focus on collaboration and teamwork can help long-term care professionals and caregivers work more effectively together to support older adults. By fostering a culture of open communication and shared decision-making, these programs can lead to better outcomes for older adults and create a more supportive and inclusive care environment.

Encouraging Advocacy and Raising Awareness

Long-term care professionals and caregivers who participate in skills training programs are more likely to become advocates for older adults, raising awareness about ageism and its harmful consequences. By promoting a greater understanding of the diverse experiences and needs of older individuals, these advocates can help to create a more inclusive and age-friendly society.

How Engage with® Skills Training Programs Can Help Strengthen Your Care Center

Skills training programs are essential for long-term care professionals, caregivers, and those interested in the well-being of older adults. By focusing on key areas such as overcoming ageist attitudes and stereotypes, promoting a positive image of older adults, and addressing gaps in training and education, these programs can significantly improve the quality of care and support provided to older individuals. Ultimately, skills training can help to create a more inclusive, compassionate, and age-friendly society, ensuring that all individuals can age with dignity and respect.

If you’re looking to make a significant impact on your care center and the lives of the older adults in your care, we invite you to learn about the Engage with® Skills Training Programs.

Designed to be intuitive and highly engaging, the Engage with® skills training programs are comprised of comprehensive skill-based curricula that are delivered virtually using a cutting-edge gamification approach. The skills focused training helps caregivers working with the older population overcome key challenges and effectively handle complicated scenarios, making their job more rewarding and fulfilling. It includes subjects such as substance use and medication misuse, behavioral health conditions, neurocognitive disorders, traumatic brain injury (TBI), de-escalation, and suicide risk identification – enabling them to provide the best possible care to the patients.  

The Engage with® Skills Training Programs were developed by the Mental Health Association of Maryland, a not for profit organization with a 106 year legacy advancing innovative solutions to ensure a just, humane and healthy society in which each individual is accorded respect, dignity and the opportunity to achieve their full potential, free from stigma and prejudice.

To learn more about these interactive programs you can visit their website at www.engagewith.org.

A Guide to Improving DPH (Department of Public Health) Facility Ratings

Improving Department of Public Health (DPH) Facility Ratings

Improving Department of Public Health (DPH) facility ratings in nursing homes can be challenging. However, we’ve pulled together a quick guide to help your facility get there quicker!

36% of US nursing homes have a 1- or 2-star rating. These ratings are accessible to the public, meaning nearly a third of nursing homes could get passed up because of poor scores. Are you among them?

If so, you may be wondering about tips for improving Department of Public Health (DPH) facility ratings for your nursing home. 

We’ve put together this strategic guide to help you to further understand what DPH facility ratings are, how to improve census growth, and ultimately, some easy steps you can take today to significantly improve the overall facility ratings of your nursing home or long-term care facility.

What Goes Into Nursing Home Ratings?

To learn how to improve your nursing home’s DPH rating, you first need to understand which factors you’re graded on.  While you likely are already aware of these, it’s always good to take a moment for a quick refresher. If you already feel well informed on this, you can skip down to “Strategies for Improving Department of Public Health (DPH) Facility Ratings” below.

DPH ratings are based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star Quality Rating System. You can score between 1 and 5 stars overall — 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

This is the score prospective residents see when they look up your facility. CMS calculates your overall rating by averaging together your scores in three categories:

  1. Annual health inspections
  2. Staffing
  3. Quality measures

If you receive a 1-star rating in any of these categories, the highest overall rating you can get is 2 stars. And if you get a 1 star for quality measures, the highest overall rating you can get is 1 star. 

We’ll talk more about how each of these individual categories gets scored below.

Health Inspection Score

CMS bases health inspection star ratings on a facility’s state health inspection report. Interestingly, health inspection scores get curved before applying the star rating.

That means scoring within the top 10% of homes will earn you 5 stars. It won’t matter if you didn’t receive a perfect health inspection score. Conversely, you get 1 star if you fall within the bottom 20% of nursing home scores. 

What determines where you fall within these percentages? The CMS will mark you down for any deficiencies. And a deficiency is defined as an instance of immediate risk to one or more residents’ health or safety. 

The health inspection score makes up the core of your overall star rating. 

Staff Rating

CMS determines a facility’s staffing score using the staff to resident ratio. This ratio equals the total nurse hours worked per resident day. There should be separate ratios for each type of nurse your facility employs. 

Any facility with a ratio of 3 staff hours or fewer per resident day qualifies for a 1-star rating. You must also have more than 16 minutes of registered nursing (RN) hours per day to achieve over a 1-star staff rating.

To get 5 stars in this category, both nursing and RN hours must qualify. In other words, RN and nurse ratios have to qualify for 5 stars to get a 5-star rating overall. 

Quality Measures Score

Quality measures are extremely important. Getting a 1-star rating for quality measures means the highest your facility can score overall is 1 star. 

CMS uses the Minimum Data Set to calculate your facility’s quality measures rating.

Strategies for Improving Department of Public Health (DPH) Facility Ratings

The secret to improving your overall nursing home rating is simple. All you have to do is get high scores in health inspections, staff ratios, and quality measures

It sounds fairly obvious, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Here’s how to do just that. 

How to Improve Your Health Inspection Score

If you get marked down on health inspections for threats to residents’ health and safety, you need to remove those threats. But completely eliminating all health and safety risks at your facility is much easier said than done.

Another strategy is to reduce the impact of these threats. For example, CMS won’t penalize you for a potential safety issue that never actually caused harm. Also, the fewer patients harmed by an adverse event, the fewer points it’ll cost you.

To reduce health inspection penalties, you also should ensure you’re familiar with all state and local nursing home regulations. Enforce these rules with your staff and implement training programs if your employees fail to comply. 

Finally, when you get marked down for something during an inspection, fix it before the inspector’s next visit. CMS will go harder on you and your score the longer it takes you to correct any health or safety threats. 

How to Improve Your Staff Rating

Scored low on your staffing measures? This is the easiest thing to fix to improve your star rating. All you need to do is hire more staff or increase the number of hours your current nurses work. This is easier said than done and is not cheap, but far less expensive than the impact a low facility rating can have on your bottom line.

Keep in mind that the more specialized nursing staff you have, the more likely you are to score higher. As an example, hiring more RNs could help you improve your staff star rating.  

Retaining employees is also key to upping staff ratings. After all, the lower your staff turnover, the more employees you’ll have to contribute to hours per resident day. 

How to Improve Your Quality Measure Score

The quality measure rating is tricky because it relies on so many components. CMS originally evaluated nursing home quality based on 11 measures. They’ve since upped that to 16 measures, including:

  • Percent of residents with new or re-emerging pressure sores
  • Percent of residents who experience moderate to severe pain
  • Percent of residents majorly injured after a fall 

The best strategy for improving your quality measures score is to know Minimum Data Set requirements in and out. Collect all data points needed to calculate your score. Challenge your staff to review gaps and identify areas of improvement to improve your data.  You cannot manage what you do not measure!

Software systems can help you analyze your quality measure data. That way, you can create actionable insights for your administrative and care staff to follow. Ultimately, this can result in better scores. 

How the Engage with™ Older Adults Skills Training Program Can Help Increase Your Facility Rating

Improving Department of Public Health (DPH) facility ratings is no small or easy task. Focusing on upping your quality measures and health inspection scores can certainly help. 

But one area that we see have a significant impact on boosting facility ratings is ensuring that your staff receives the necessary skills needed to interact with and care for older adults. Not only does skills training reduce staff turnover because they are better equipped and prepared to care for your residents, it significantly reduces the exuberant cost associated with recruiting new nurses for your facility.  In fact, in a recent study, the Engage with™ Older Adults Skills Training Program reduced staff turnover by as much as 40% for long-term care facilities!

Are you searching for a solution to up your Five-Star Quality Rating? Get in touch with us to find out how our virtual skills training program can improve your staff rating and your overall facility rating!

 

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.

A Guide to Reducing Staff Turnover and Improving Staff Wellness in Long-Term Care Facilities

Reducing Staff Turnover and Improving Wellness in Care Facilities

The healthcare industry is experiencing a turnover crisis. Learn more in this guide to reducing staff turnover and improving staff wellness in long-term care facilities

Retaining good nurses is an ongoing problem for senior living facilities. The turnover crisis was serious before the pandemic hit, and it continues to grow.

When there aren’t enough nurses, the rest of the staff is overworked and stretched thinly. This is bad for the staff, bad for business, and even worse for the residents.

Facilities that retain a quality nursing staff provide better care to their residents and peace of mind to their family members. A focus on improving nurse staff wellness and providing ongoing education can help in reducing older adults’ nursing staff turnover.

Here’s a look at some strategies for meeting the needs of your nursing staff.

Start With the Hiring Process

The first step for retaining nurses is to remember they are in high demand. A strong onboarding and orientation process is necessary.

Make sure job descriptions are updated and realistic. Do not wait for vacancies.

Line up quality talent ahead of time. Look for someone who wants a long-term position and has the dedication and physical abilities to handle the demands of the job.

Check references and do a thorough background check. Make sure they understand the company’s values and their unique role in the organization.

Make them feel welcome, supported, and valued from day one.

Allow a potential hire to shadow a seasoned staff person around for a shift.  The last thing anyone wants is to go through the time and expense of recruiting and training a nurse, only to find they were not prepared for the job.  No one wins when a nurse leaves because they didn’t understand the job they were actually being hired to do.

Offer a Competitive Salary and Benefits

The pay for senior care nurses is often lower than in other medical specialties. This is one reason senior care employees are often looking for something better.

You want to attract nurses looking for long-term employment. Offering a competitive wage, performance-based bonuses, decent benefits, and regular paid time off is a huge incentive for nurses.

Competitive pay and good benefits attract good nurses. This can have a significant effect on morale and boost chances for retaining quality nursing staff.

Get creative with benefits.  For instance, a cell phone allowance can amount to a small yearly cost, but can pay big dividends in the areas of appreciation, recognition and ultimately, retention. 

Implement Fair Scheduling

Once you’ve hired a quality team, it’s important to keep them. Beyond a fair salary and competitive benefits, you must consider workload and scheduling.

Nurses who feel their employer respects them and considers their needs are more likely to stay in their position longer. Although you cannot guarantee all schedule requests, do your best to allow people to request the shifts most desirable to them.

Offering flexible schedules and promoting a healthy work-life balance shows you care about your nursing staff and their health.

Provide Advancement Opportunities

Investing in your staff is an investment in the company and the residents, as well. When staff members see there’s a ladder for advancement and salary increases, it’s a strong incentive to stay.

Career development and ongoing education boost employees’ skills, as well as their confidence. It provides an avenue for continual improvement, which benefits staff and residents alike.

A highly trained nursing staff is a valuable asset. Providing a path for advancement is a way to retain quality staff for the long-term and show them you value their skills and talents.

Enlist the Help of Technology  

No matter the experience level, everyone can learn and improve their skill set. Identify areas that need improvement and ask your employees what they need as well.

Ongoing education that reinforces the company’s goals and mission helps employees feel empowered and connected to their workplace. Training through technology is cost-effective and user-friendly.

Technology enables nurses to train at convenient times without sacrificing patient care. Dedicated nurses are willing to learn and eager to improve resident care.

When nurses feel they have the training, skills and tools they need to provide quality care, it’s one more incentive for them to stay.

Promote Structured Mentorship

Nurses and CNA’s need support. One of the most important ways to retain quality staff is to provide a support network from day one.

A mentorship program is critical for new hires and provides a source for advice and a sounding board when they need it. Putting a new employee to work in an eldercare facility without any support is a recipe for disaster.

Without support, nurses may become overwhelmed with the unique struggles of eldercare. Ongoing support is critical for job satisfaction and staff wellness for those caring for and engaging with older adults..

Share in Decision Making

Nurses care about the continuity and quality of healthcare they’re able to provide. And most nurses want a voice in best practices.

Involving the staff in decision-making allows them to voice their feelings and concerns about what matters to them. When nurses feel their voice is valued, it fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Provide opportunities for nurses to share their input on policy decisions and resident care. The more invested they feel in their profession, the more likely they are to stay.  

Lead by Example

The level of support from administrators is a huge factor in retaining nursing staff. Effective leaders understand this, value their employees, and lead by example.

Some qualities of successful healthcare administrators include:

  • A proactive approach
  • An open-door policy for staff members
  • An emphasis on ongoing education and training
  • Concern for employee wellbeing and job satisfaction
  • Appreciation and respect for all staff members

When nurses respect their administrators, they have more job satisfaction and more incentive to stay on the job.

Establish a Close-Knit Team

When employees feel a sense of connectedness, they feel as though they have a family at work. This makes work a more welcome place to come each day.

Creating a family atmosphere is a great way to make your employees happy and keep them around. Investing in training, career advancement, mentorship, and employee empowerment is key to retaining excellent staff members.

Team building and opportunities for socializing among employees promote a close-knit team. This increases job satisfaction and a sense of belonging that promotes long-term retention.

Value a Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy employees make for happy employees. Wellness perks can be a big incentive for employees. 

Providing a place or the opportunity for employees to exercise or engage in team sports promotes a sense of wellness. When you take measures to reduce workplace stress and address mental health concerns, you show employees you care about their wellbeing.

Promoting a healthy work-life balance is good for boosting morale and reducing nursing staff turnover.

Reducing Older Adults’ Nursing Staff Turnover

The demand for nurses is high and is only expected to grow. This makes it harder for long-term care facilities to attract and retain quality nurses.

If you expect nurses to provide quality care, you must also take care of your nurses. There’s no one solution for reducing older adults’ nursing staff turnover.

Instead, there are many ways you can support and nurture your nursing staff. Make a concerted effort to train, mentor, and reward them. This helps to increase job satisfaction and retain excellent nurses for years to come.  

Engage With provides interactive training with a focus on providing skilled nurses with the necessary skills training to confidently care for and engage with residents in long-term care facilities. Our Older Adults Skills Training program has been proven to reduce staff turnover by up to 40% in long-term care facilities. Contact us to learn more.