Most insurance agents are fully aware of the challenges faced by those in the nursing care profession. Apart from navigating the intricacies of nursing home insurance, there are difficulties in developing effective orientation programs for new workers in a skilled nursing facility (SNF).
The current COVID-19 pandemic still in effect in many parts of the world further adds to the hardship. Nursing care facilities often find themselves in the difficult position of augmenting their staff as quickly as possible while struggling to meet the orientation demands that are so integral to the onboarding process. Consequently, many skilled nursing facilities are forced to forgo formal orientations to get new workers on board as soon as possible.
But skipping orientation could actually have a detrimental effect on a nursing care facility and its workforce. By forgoing the orientation process, SNFs risk placing new workers in crucial positions that they are unprepared to handle.
Why orientation is so important for SNFs
Orientation is an essential part of improving the competency and retention of new nurses. By implementing an effective orientation program, SNFs are more likely to produce competent nurses that can provide a higher quality of patient care.
A well-developed orientation program also helps improve staff retention. This is an especially important concern considering the high cost of replacing nurses.
Developing an effective orientation program for new SNF workers
The strategies for developing an effective orientation program vary according to the needs of the organization. But in general, it would be helpful to include the following components:
- Goal-oriented precepting
- Bi-directional feedback
- Continuing support
The first step is to develop a curriculum for staff training. It is generally helpful to focus on standard diagnosis and clinical procedures and competency in high-risk and low-incident scenarios.
It would also be beneficial to select preceptors carefully. These are nursing care professionals who are responsible for training and preparing new nurses for their roles. In addition to clinical expertise, the most effective preceptors tend to have the skills and capability to teach and evaluate new personnel.
Part of the goal of any orientation program should be to incorporate new nurses into the team as quickly as possible. This can be done by introducing new workers to the other staff members during morning huddles or staff meetings. New nurses could also be introduced to the team via email.
Other effective strategies include taking new nurses on rounds and introducing them to the rest of the team by name and role. Preceptors could also be encouraged to take rest and meal breaks with trainees, at least while the orientation period is ongoing.
It would also be helpful for nurse managers to check in on new staff regularly, and ensure that they have access to all the necessary electronic and process systems.
3. Goal-oriented precepting
Precepting should be done with a clearly defined set of goals. It would help to set weekly objectives to make it easier to monitor progress. Many SNFs find it beneficial to start new nurses with basic tasks and have them take on progressively more complex responsibilities every week.
If necessary, nursing managers may fill out evaluation forms to further help with progress tracking and monitoring. This can be an effective strategy, especially when the rest of the team is informed of the new hires’ weekly goals and objectives.
4. Bi-directional feedback
Getting feedback from preceptors and new nurses is equally important. It would be helpful for nurse managers to meet with them periodically throughout the orientation period, preferably once a week or every two weeks,
Nurse managers should strive for an open and honest exchange in which new hires are free to share their thoughts. Preceptors should be genuine and sincere as well while positively encouraging new hires to improve their performance.
5. Continuing support
Support for new hires doesn’t end at the conclusion of the orientation period. Even when the formal orientation is over, nurse managers should implement a plan for continued support for the new staff nurses. It might be helpful to assign mentors for the new nurses and give them access to company resources and a sounding board from which they could get answers to essential questions.
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.