Nursing homes have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Operational challenges and widespread infections have led to over a million hospitalizations and nearly 140,000 deaths as of January, 2021. Long-term care facilities have scrambled to make adjustments designed to counter the terrible toll of COVID-19. While nursing home insurance serves as a foundation of risk management, novel approaches like team nursing or alternative staffing models can help to reduce the burdens and faced by caregivers and the residents they care for.
The Team Nursing Home Model
Nursing home residents are not the only people affected by COVID-19. Caregivers, including nurses, therapists, and attending physicians have also fallen ill, reducing the number of available staff members to deliver care. Faced with staff shortages, the team nursing home model shows real promise in negating the challenges presented by the coronavirus.
Team nursing consists of the following components:
Team leader – typically, an experienced critical care nurse or nurse practitioner with a combination of clinical and organizational skills.
Team members – depending on the level of care and services of a given nursing home, members may be nurses, Certified registered nursing assistants (CRNAs), respiratory and physical therapists, and dieticians. Paraprofessionals such as support staff or technicians may also be members of a nursing team.
The team nursing model is not too different from traditional organizational structures in long-term care facilities. The major difference is in delegation of roles and responsibilities; team members may have to shift to duties outside their normal activities in order to cover any staffing shortfalls. In simple terms, team nursing adds much-needed flexibility to the operations of nursing homes strained by the consequences of COVID-19.
Responsibilities in the Team Nursing Model
As a risk management strategy, nursing home insurance is invaluable. This insurance protects nursing home facilities and their staffs against a wide range of liabilities. To strengthen the protection of nursing home insurance in the wake of COVID-19, team nursing represents a path forward. The key to success in team nursing, all team members must be prepared to pitch in where help is needed.
The team leader is responsible for assessing the skills and competencies of each member while remaining within the scope of practice for each member. This can be a challenge; the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) have compiled a delegation guide for team leaders that includes the concepts of:
- The right task
- The right circumstance(s)
- The right person
- The right directions and communication with team members
- The right supervision and evaluation of team members
These factors influence the selection of duties for both certified/licensed team members and support staff. It is critical that assignments reflect the strengths of a given team member without stepping beyond the bounds or scope of practice. Ultimately, the team leader must be an active participant in the team nursing model, clearly communicating the needs and duties of each member and seeking input from members on best practices.
Team nursing shows great potential. As an alternative staffing approach, team nursing can help nursing home facilities overcome operational challenges. The increased flexibility of staff roles helps to reduce strains on understaffed facilities. There are significant advantages to the team nursing model outside of the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many facilities are adopting this model as a course of care delivery going forward. Advantages include:
- Improved staff communication
- Improved staffing morale
- Improvements in job satisfaction
- Reduced employee turnover rates
Just like nursing home insurance protects facility assets and staff from liability losses, team nursing can reduce the risks associated with understaffed or high-turnover facilities. Team nursing serves as a valuable risk management strategy, significantly improving resident outcomes while creating a collaborative, supportive environment for nursing home staff members.
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.