Operations Best Practices

How Staffing Shortages Impact Activities and Resident Engagement

September 4, 2023

A staffing shortage in a skilled nursing community can significantly affect life enrichment programming. Below are some of the ways that a shortage impacts resident activities and engagement:

Decreased programs and activities

With fewer staff members available, a skilled nursing community may struggle to offer a wide range of engaging activities and programs for residents. They may be forced to decrease the variety and frequency of activities, leading to boredom and lethargy among residents. Inadequate staffing levels can even lead to the cancellation of scheduled activities, as staff may need to prioritize essential care tasks over life enrichment. 

Decreased person-centered offerings

Being understaffed can lead life enrichment professionals to fall back on generic or traditional activities. They may not have the time or resources to plan creative programming based on their residents’ current hobbies and interests. As a result, residents will not get the engaging, person-centered programs that they deserve. 

Risk of resident isolation

During a staffing shortage, life enrichment professionals have less time to spend with individual residents. A decrease in one-on-one activities or visits can lead residents to become lonely. Feeling neglected or isolated can negatively impact residents’ health and overall well-being. 

Documentation falls through the cracks

Understaffed skilled nursing communities may fall behind on documenting resident data. This can include resident attendance records, engagement reports, care plans, and more. Additionally, with fewer staff members available, documentation tasks might be rushed or neglected, leading to incomplete or missing information in resident records. With missing information, staff may struggle to offer personalized programming and meet their KPI benchmarks — leading to non-compliance with regulatory standards. 

Increased stress and burnout

When staff members are stretched thin due to a shortage, they may experience increased stress and burnout. This can have a direct impact on the quality of care they provide to residents. If staff are overwhelmed, they may have less energy and enthusiasm for engaging residents in activities. Additionally, burnout can lead to higher staff turnover, worsening the shortage. 

Overall, a staffing shortage in a skilled nursing community can have a drastic impact on the quality of their life enrichment programming. With fewer qualified staff, skilled nursing communities can expect to see a decrease in the number of activities, little program variety, and a drop in resident engagement. Staff will be overworked and struggle to offer a person-centered experience with their limited time and resources. As a result, residents’ overall well-being and satisfaction will be negatively impacted. Efforts to address staffing shortages in these communities are essential to ensure residents receive high-quality care.

Check out our related article, How a resident experience platform can support resident engagement during a staffing shortage. Contact us today to learn more about how Welbi can revolutionize your approach and empower your life enrichment teams.

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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