One of the biggest problems the senior living space faces at the moment is its incredibly high staff turnover rate. We’re all aware of the monetary costs that accompany a rotating staff door, but how does this affect the depth and breadth of care our staff are able to offer seniors? The Person-Centered Care (PCC) approach that we’re all trying to get on board with is dependent on the relationships between staff and residents. Let’s take a closer look at how staff turnover effects Person-Centered Care.
Pressure on Existing Staff Members
While seeking, hiring, and training new staff members on a consistent basis has it’s financial drawbacks, there are also negative implications for longer term staff members and residents alike. A rotating door of staff members means the caregivers that do stay in your community long term can face pressures that accompany new hires; these include shifting workloads, staff retraining, and not enough opportunities for community personnel to focus on each resident. An increase in workplace pressure, in any field, often results in employee burnout and an increase in staff turnover.
Relationships Over Time
The person-centered care approach leans heavily on the relationship between staff and seniors and it should be no surprise that deeper, more meaningful bonds take more time to form. Interacting with the same resident on a consistent basis builds a certain rapport that is mutually beneficial for both parties. This kind of constant attention from the same caregiver is called ‘consistent assignment’ and refers to the unvarying routine and care from one staff member to specific seniors. In a review by NCBI, the positive effects of consistent assignment were explored in senior living communities:
“The practice of consistent assignment of nursing staff to residents has intuitive appeal, and anecdotal reports suggest that it leads to better quality of care outcomes, stronger relationships between staff and residents, and a more stable and committed workforce”.
And this approach makes sense on a fundamental level: staff members can’t build relationships with the residents in their care if they’re not interacting with them regularly. Thus, the higher staff turnover rates in our field negatively impact the bonds, and ultimately, the quality of care we’re able to offer our seniors.
Staff and Senior Satisfaction
So what happens when our turnover rates are high, our staff members are stressed, and our seniors may not be getting the kind of care that could be getting? In a 2011 study, it was found that the rate at which patients recommended the hospital they were staying in “decreased by about 2 percent for every 10 percent of nurses at the hospital reporting dissatisfaction”. While this study was conducted in a hospital setting, there are certainly parallels that can be drawn when compared to the senior living space. As caregiver satisfaction goes down, there is potential for fewer referrals due to resident dissatisfaction. Additionally, the less satisfied both staff and seniors are with their time in the community, the more likely the quality of care will go down. So when staff retention rates are low, both caregivers and their residents feel the impacts of constant new hires.
The apparent answer to improving the quality of care is to reduce staff turnover, but as we’ve seen in the senior living space, there is no quick fix or broad spectrum solution. Instead, we have to look at why caregivers face burnout, which may be a more deeply rooted issue that differs from community to community. There’s a cyclical nature to staff retention, quality of care, and the resident’s quality of life, all playing crucial roles in the overall success in our communities. If we can provide better work spaces for our staff, they will, in turn, provide better care for our seniors.