Operations Best Practices

3 Ways Top Communities Are Addressing Staff Shortages in Long Term Care

July 5, 2022

Leading long-term care operators are approaching the challenge of a major staffing shortage in a number of different ways. Read more to learn the three most impactful strategies communities are using to address turnover.

  1. Employee benefits and engagement  

One of the most common strategies operators are using to retain and attract employees is offering benefits such as higher wages. In fact, 70% of operators say that increasing wages is their main strategy to entice new hires. However, studies show that higher wages alone may not be enough to encourage employees to stay in a stressful work environment. It’s also important to ensure that employees feel supported and appreciated at work. Employee appreciation programs can help make staff feel valued, but on the other hand, these programs may not be effective if improvements are not made to the work environment. 

Another strategy that some operators are using to improve retention is offering continuous learning opportunities to current employees. One of the top reasons that employees across all sectors leave their positions is because they feel stagnant in their roles. Engaged employees want to feel like they are progressing in their careers, or they may seek out other opportunities. Employee development programs provide staff with the opportunity to further their careers — without having to leave their job. 

  1. Improving the talent pipeline 

Many senior living operators have noted that there is a lack of qualified candidates in the recreation field. One potential strategy to address this shortage is to focus on cultural fit when hiring and provide learning opportunities for under qualified candidates. While this solution is more of an investment, studies show that staffing for good cultural fit can improve employee retention. 

For many senior living communities, the recreation team is supplemented by volunteer power. Volunteers are a great cost-effective way that operators can address the staffing shortage. However, as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers can pose a risk to infectious disease control. For this reason, operators may want to err on the side of caution and limit their volunteer force.

To address the shortage of healthcare workers in long term care, some operators are turning to staffing agencies like Plan A to fill open shifts. Many operators are reluctant to use staffing agencies, however, due to concerns about bringing in outside workers who have not been trained within their communities.

  1. Workflow redesign 

Staff in LTC are often overwhelmed by stacks of paperwork and outdated administrative processes. This takes away from their time providing direct care to residents, which can decrease job satisfaction. A 2020 long-term care staffing study conducted in Ontario found that the work environment in long term care needs to improve to address the staffing crisis. The study made the following recommendations:

  • Create a work environment where staff can consistently provide high quality care
  • Improve workload and working conditions to encourage retention
  • Remove administrative burden on staff so they can provide more direct care

Many senior living communities are turning to technology to improve their processes and encourage retention. A state-of-the-art resident experience platform can modernize your teams’ recreation processes so they can save time on their daily tasks. Optimizing your teams’ workflow will reduce workplace stress and boost productivity. Your employees will take greater satisfaction in their jobs knowing that they’re spending time on what matters most to them — enriching the lives of their residents!

The staffing shortage in long term care is a challenge that operators need to approach strategically. By offering benefits such as higher wages, continuous learning opportunities, and improving working conditions with technology to reduce administrative burden, operators are taking steps forward towards easing staff turnover. 

We hope these tips will help you provide your staff with the right support to reduce turnover in your senior living communities.  For more information, download our free eBook The Business of Wellness for Senior Communities and learn more about how staff retention is directly related to revenue. 

Welbi, the fastest-growing resident experience platform, is built with your teams in mind. Book a demo of the platform or chat with us, and we can show you first-hand how we support recreation teams with the best tools to create outstanding resident experiences, daily.

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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