Quality front-line care workers are the most vital component to proper care at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. “Quality” in this context refers to several things, including sufficient amount of these workers, proper training, and individualized attention which comes with caregiver familiarity with each resident. For this reason, one of the best indicators of the merits of any single facility is its staffing levels and retention rates for these caregivers. The bottom line is that, all things being equal, those facilities with more, better trained, and more stable front-line workers will provide far better care to the seniors counting on them.
In that vein, a new report on the turnover and retention rates of assisted living workers is important to examine. A summary of the report can be found here.
According to analysis of the data provided by McKnights Long-Term Care News, the retention rate for all employees at all assisted living facilities was about 73% in 2011. Not all types of workers had the same rate, however. When just the nursing staff is examiend, for example, only 71% of employees stayed on in 2011. An even closer look within the “nursing” category of employees indicated even more problems. Most notably, non-certified resident caregivers only had a 56% retention rate last year. That means that nearly half of all of these front-line careworkers did not stay on the job in 2011.
Interestingly, the survery also found varying levels of satisfaction between employees working at skilled nursing facilities (traditional nursing homes) versus assisted living faciltiies. The assisted living facility workers indicated far lower satisfaction rates than their counterparts at traditional nursing homes. That includes satisfaction regarding “comparison of pay (9% satisfied), assistance with job stress (15% satisfied), and support from supervisors (35%).”
These retention rates and satisfaction levels are critical because if the front-line care workers do not perform adequately, then harmful instances of elder neglect are far more likely to occur. In addition, the longer that an employee is at a facility, the better that employee understand the unique needs of each individual resident. The familiarity breeds safety, as the care workers can best anticipate risks and guard against them. With higher turnover, certain risk factors might go unnoticed leading to harmful falls, medication errors, resident-on-resident assaults, and other preventable incidents.
Quality Nursing Home Care Requires Resources
The undeniable truth is that ensuring that long-term elder residents receive the care that they deserve requires owners and operators to commit proper resources to front-line care workers. That might even mean that these business owners make slightly less profit. But there is a difference between making a profit and maximizing profit at the expense of decent treatment of workers and sufficient living conditions for seniors. Unfortunately, some facilities continue to operate on the assumption that the more profit made is better, regardless of the consequnces for individual residents. This is unacceptable. If you know of a nursing home resident in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois where harm might have been caused by poor care–perhaps not enough workers–then please contact our office to see how we can help.
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