Confronting burnout head on: 3 ways nursing home owners can protect the health and happiness of their nurses

Skilled care facilities face significant issues affecting caregivers, affecting both their physical and mental health. The situation is so dire that Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in June predicted a shortage of more than 3 million healthcare workers and 140,000 doctors in the coming years and warned of the urgent need to address the burnout crisis of healthcare workers across the country.

To protect the industry’s most valuable asset – its caregivers – facility owners must find ways to meet the needs of their employees. Providing staff with the tools, technology and support that enable caregivers to do their jobs without feeling burdened and overwhelmed is critical to their health and happiness—and the health of the entire organization. Greater flexibility and control over shift scheduling, tools to reduce administrative burnout, and same-day pay go a long way to alleviating the looming burnout crisis.

But first, how did we get here?

For more than two years, healthcare workers have been constantly exposed to Covid and the consequences that come with treating sick patients – including unplanned sick days and time off, unpredictable schedules, inconsistent childcare and more. In addition to high infection rates and the resulting physical symptoms, workers have experienced higher levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and loneliness stemming from constant worry about putting loved ones up, emotional and physical exhaustion, and struggling to do their jobs to reconcile with parents and family commitments.

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The impact on labor availability has been significant. In November 2021, healthcare employment remained 2.7 percent lower than in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit the US

The thinning of the healthcare workforce will continue to impact the industry as a whole, but will be particularly pronounced for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This sub-sector of industry is already facing workforce and employment pressures as the population of people aged 65 and over has grown at a rapid pace. With the number of seniors requiring age-related care expected to reach 73 million by 2030 — up from 31 million in 2011 — the challenge of finding and retaining skilled caregivers is daunting.

Three ways to support caregivers

Nursing home owners and operators must now take the necessary steps to not only enlist and recruit qualified nurses, but also to ensure their existing staff populations are cared for and protected. They must consider their caregivers their most valuable asset and provide access to the tools and technology that allow them to do their jobs without feeling burdened and overwhelmed.

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It starts by easing the administrative chores that seem to dominate workers’ daily lives. According to a study by Wakefield Research, 36 percent of clinicians spend more than half their day on administrative tasks that require them to repeatedly log into disparate and disconnected systems to enter ridiculous amounts of data multiple times a day. 72 percent say the time spent on these tasks and the volume of manual data will continue to increase over the next 12 months. By eliminating tedious administrative tasks, caregivers can focus on what they love most about their job: delivering quality patient care.

In addition, nursing home owners need to start giving caregivers more control over their schedules and arm them with the tools to request easy shifts when available, implement changes, and request vacations. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that flexibility is essential for today’s workers. Today’s nurses, particularly those just entering the job market, want more control over their schedules and the flexibility to work on their time and on their terms. Facilities need to arm them with the tools to request simple shifts when available, implement changes, and request vacations — or risk losing them altogether.

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Finally, paying caregivers on time to alleviate financial concerns or stress associated with chasing payments will go a long way in reducing burnout. Nurses typically work their scheduled shifts and receive their paychecks a week or two later. Even nurses who work on a day basis sometimes have to wait a week or so before being paid. However, there is a demand for more immediate payment options. According to Rain, 89.9% of healthcare workers are happier after being given access to same-day pay. More than 40% of workers would choose to get paid same-day over waiting for payday if you gave them the option. Offering same-day pay for nurses allows for greater financial freedom and security, and contributes significantly to a nurse’s job satisfaction.

A healthier and happier future

The battle for healthcare workers is in full swing. Nursing home owners who are motivated to retain their most valuable assets, maintain their ratings, and create an environment where caregivers can focus on delivering exceptional patient care are critical to managing the burnout crisis.

Photo: PeopleImages, Getty Images

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