We all know that the senior care industry, especially skilled nursing facilities, is under pressure from all sides. One of those pressures is the employee pool. The other is tight budgets, caused mainly by the decline in census in senior care. There are ways, however, that the leadership at SNFs, ALs, ILs and CCRCs can stretch their budgets and perhaps increase employee longevity.
Leverage employee experience.
Senior Care Offers a Treasure in Employee Experience
Last week, there was a blog post on these pages titled Hospice in a Senior Care Environment. The piece included a testimonial by an individual whose mother was a dementia patient in an AL. She was beginning to show signs of decline, and this man was at a loss over the decision to bring in hospice. Then we found that the health director, before joining the staff of the Assisted Living, spent a decade as a hospice nurse.
“It was a great relief,” he said. “She helped me figure out what to do.”
This exchange was an example of how senior care companies can leverage the experience of their employees. There were two results from this event. The decision maker for the resident was thankful that someone had the knowledge to help him make a critical decision about his mother.
Secondly, and this is subtle but needs to be pointed out, this exchange was an affirmation for the employee. Employees in senior care, at all levels, perform meaningful tasks daily that make someone’s life easier. But this exchange went beyond that. Her hospice experience allowed the loved one to make a tough decision. It was welcome advice at a crucial moment.
Senior Care Leadership Should Learn About the Depth of Experience of Their Staff
There could be a gold mine in your front-line workers, and you don’t even know about it. In several blog posts on these pages, we’ve lauded the abilities of another health director at an Assisted Living that was having problems with a resident with chronic UTIs, while other residents of roughly the same ages and health challenges were not suffering from UTIs at a similar rate.
The health director dove into the patient data and discovered that the residents with fewer UTIs all had the same Medicare-backed health plan. It included a visiting nurse who came weekly. It turned out that this visiting nurse was very attuned to looking for signs of UTIs in her patients, often intercepting them before they became severe.
Not only was the health director good at her job, but she also was not afraid of diving into the data.
There are Other Examples of Leveraging Employee Skills
Often senior living communities and SNFs work with an outside contractor to come in and do fitness sessions with the residents once or twice a week. It takes a unique talent to lead these sessions with residents that are often not physically mobile or are suffering from dementia.
These consultants provide a valuable service but are also a line item on your facility’s budget.
But there might be an alternative within the ranks of your frontline people. Perhaps there is a CNA or another person on your staff with some exercise background. Or maybe they are good at paying attention and seeing how it’s done.
Dig Deep for the Extraordinary Experience
Recently we met a gentleman who took early retirement from a career as a project manager in the construction and development industry. He decided to fill his idle time as a volunteer for the Red Cross. That organization jumped at his supervisory experience. Soon he was overseeing assistance efforts in major catastrophes. He supervised dozens of volunteers and led assistance efforts for hundreds and thousands of people.
That could be invaluable experience for your staff and facility. Every senior care operation needs to have crisis contingency plans. Who better to plan it than someone on your staff who has Red Cross volunteer experience? Look for those people. Caregivers have often done some extraordinary things.
Senior care management and leadership should take the time to investigate the depth of their staff. There might be some valuable assets there. Utilizing them can save money and make the employee feel more valuable.
By the way, you might also hand out raises to the frontline employees with some of that money you save. This industry needs to reward employees who care for our seniors.
CareWork is Also Part of a Winning Equation
CareWork’s software platform pulls together all the data silos in your operations, whether you are an SNF or senior housing operator. CareWork allows leadership and management teams to see vital information and make better business decisions and better care decisions. It also frees up time so you can investigate the experience of your staff.
Who knows? You might find a staff person with a knack for interpreting the data. Sometimes it comes down to nothing more than a different perspective. Call us today or visit our website.