Communication Solutions for Staffing in Long-Term Care and Nursing Homes

by | Feb 20, 2018

Better Staffing in Long-Term Care Staffing is one of the biggest challenges faced by long-term care (LTC) facilities including skilled nursing facilities. Staffing challenges in LTC such as senior care homes, nursing homes and rehab facilities include inadequate staffing levels and staff callouts, an aging workforce, demonstrating accountability to residents and their families, and employee retention.

In this environment, long-term care facilities need to do more with less by becoming more agile in their responses to changing conditions. Communicating and collaborating in real time can help you build an agile healthcare organization.

4 agile healthcare challenges for long-term care

Maintaining adequate staff coverage

If staff levels are low, filling shift vacancies can be a constant struggle at the best of times. Add in a flu outbreak or severe weather, and a healthcare facility is in real crisis. With many regions facing nursing shortages, shift management can feel like a full-time job.

Agile healthcare challenge #1: Unplanned absences need to be addressed quickly, without taking undue time away from patient care. Nursing supervisors cannot afford to make a long series of calls to find a shift replacement and wait for messages to be returned.

Ensuring safety for staff of all ages

As the age of the workforce increases, so does the age of experienced long-term care staff. In the US, the nursing workforce has an average age approaching 50, with an increased awareness of the need to protect backs and knees.

Safely caring for a senior population can be strenuous for any age group. In a facility with elderly patients, more physical work may be necessary, for example when transferring a frail resident from bed to chair. Not surprisingly, nursing homes and residential care facilities have a workplace injury rate that is double the rate for all other occupations. The most frequent cause? Injuries related to the handling of residents.

Agile healthcare challenge #2: Realistically, nurses and aides cannot always travel in pairs. So when the need suddenly arises to help a resident move or stand from a fall, a staff member may decide it is faster and easier to handle the situation alone, especially when leaving the resident to seek help is not an option. The data demonstrates, however, that being forced to go it alone puts both staff and residents at higher risk.

Demonstrating accountability

Nursing home administrators are not the only ones concerned about staffing gaps. Families of residents are often concerned about staffing levels too. Sad stories of neglect in the news mean both relatives and potential new residents want assurance that when problems arise, staff is accessible and responsive.

Agile healthcare challenge #3: Family involvement in the lives of aging residents can be crucial to their emotional wellbeing. Sometimes, though, anxiety or lack of knowledge may lead a family to conclude that a loved one is not receiving adequate care. That can lead to poor client relationships or, at worst, involvement in a lawsuit.

Retaining high-quality nursing staff

All the issues we’ve looked at so far show why employee retention can be difficult for long-term care facilities. It can be arduous, stressful work. In regions with nursing shortages, turnover for skilled nurses may be high, and frustration may drive inexperienced staff into a different field of healthcare.

Agile healthcare challenge #4: Frequent schedule changes make it difficult for nurses and other personnel to maintain work-life balance. Even for dedicated staff, the rewards of providing quality eldercare may be outweighed by an increasingly busy, exhausting workload. Less time per patient impacts staff as much as residents, taking away the element of the job that provides the highest levels of satisfaction .

Solutions for these 4 long-term care staffing challenges

The trends that have impacted staffing in long-term care facilities including nursing homes are certain to continue. A clinical communication and collaboration solution like LiveProcess Communicator can promoteagile healthcare, easing your strain in these four areas:

Shift management

Connect with staff quickly and eliminate call trees: send a single notification using pre-selected groups based on certifications, skills or your own criteria. A communication platform that supports customized notification and response templates virtually automates the process of filling an open shift.

Safe working conditions

An agile healthcare solution built around structured communication accelerates response times, by providing for one-touch messages and answers without ever leaving a patient’s side. In addition, a panic button can ensure the fastest response when an employee or patient is in danger.

Accountability

Records that automatically track the messages created can help maintain accountability with no additional documentation effort for busy staff.

Employee retention

Job satisfaction increases when employees feel safe, valued and empowered to do their work with the right tools. Plus, with less time spent on training new hires, all staff members can focus on functioning as a well-oiled machine, maximizing efficiency.

Email this to a friend.

Next steps

Register for the webinar, Streamline emergency and everyday communications for long-term care. Choose a date and time that is best for you.

To learn more about how LiveProcess can address the unique communication needs of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, in LiveProcess Communicator for Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care.

Learn about agile healthcare on our blog.

Read more blog posts about how to improve emergency and everyday communications in long-term care, including nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, extended care, institutional care, and senior/eldercare facilities. 

terry-zysk-100x100Terry Zysk, CEO of LiveProcess, has more than two decades of experience in leading organizations that provide innovative solutions to the healthcare industry.