For years, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have struggled with high staff turnover rates. Caregivers leave these facilities for many reasons, resulting in operational challenges. More importantly, insufficient staff levels have put residents at risk. While nursing home insurance is designed to protect against numerous liabilities, staffing levels present a significant risk exposure that cannot be easily overcome by insurance coverage alone. Can new caregiver orientations represent a solution that reduces turnover? In this guide, we will explore the role of caregiver orientations as a way to lower attrition, improve worker morale, and create robust healthcare systems.
The Staffing Crisis in Nursing Homes
According to a 2021 survey conducted by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) of 616 nursing homes in the United States, a staggering 94% of survey respondents indicated they face staffing shortages. Facilities already facing staffing shortfalls were dealt an additional blow by the coronavirus pandemic, which led to widespread infections, deaths, and high attrition rates among caregivers and support staff. Despite aggressive recruitment programs, nursing homes continue to face staffing challenges.
When nursing home staff is insufficient to provide for the needs of residents, claims of neglect or negligence can increase dramatically. Certain complications like medication errors, elopement, or injuries from falls also occur in understaffed facilities. These complications increase nursing home insurance claims, ultimately pushing up annual premiums. Solutions are needed to conquer staffing challenges in nursing homes to ensure adequate care for at-risk residents.
Caregiver Orientation: A Tool for Improving Staff Retention
Orientations are an integral part of the onboarding experience for new staff members of any organization. In nursing homes, caregiver orientations are designed to provide new staff members with the information and procedures needed to provide around-the-clock care for elderly residents. They can also be a valuable tool for improving staff retention.
How important is caregiver orientation? In one study, it was determined that about 57% of caregiver turnover occurs within the first 90 days of employment. In many of these turnovers, caregivers received inadequate training and orientation, resulting in low job satisfaction or unpleasant surprises in terms of expectations. Turnover tends to be higher due to:
- Misrepresentation of pay/benefits
- Lack of communication between managers and staff
- Poor transparency
- Issues with scheduling
- Lack of administrative support
- Poor management decisions
Many of these factors directly tie to the orientation experience. It is critical that nursing homes be clear about pay, benefits, work expectations, and scheduling during the orientation process. Stakeholder buy-in is also important, helping caregivers understand that they will receive the support and guidance needed from office and managerial staff.
Improving the Caregiver Orientation Experience
To ensure that caregiver orientation provides new staff members the essential information they need to do their jobs, nursing home managers should consider improving the onboarding process. This can include:
- Focusing on the team efforts of the organization and how caregivers are an essential part of that team.
- Setting clear expectations in terms of hours worked, scheduling, and minimum requirements.
- Providing full details on pay rates, benefits, and opportunities for promotion.
- Providing clear information about policies and procedures used in the facility.
- Providing adequate training on procedures, equipment use, and recordkeeping.
- Adding hands-on training programs to help new staff members gain real-world experience.
In simple terms, a caregiver orientation program should be one where caregivers become invested in the continued success of the nursing home and its operation. Helping caregivers to believe they made the right employment choice can greatly improve retention rates, and orientation programs can facilitate this perception. By improving orientation, staff levels gain stability, reducing the risk exposures that lead to claims against nursing home insurance policies. They also lead to better management of overhead expenses associated with recruitment, hiring, and training of staff. Nursing homes that put their caregivers first enjoy greater stability and a better overall work experience, thanks to the power of positive onboarding programs.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.