A hard-working and qualified staff is critical to operating a well-run assisted living facility. They are the frontlines of the operation, interfacing with residents and their families and taking on the emotional and physical toll of end-of-life care. But when it comes to senior care staffing, there are a number of factors that make it challenging to recruit and retain quality employees.
One of the main reasons for that is the ongoing nursing shortage, which can make it hard to consistently staff shifts, particularly in assisted living facilities, where the number of new residents far outpaces the pool of potential employees. But there are other factors and needs that are unique to senior care that present challenges for managers trying to staff their facility effectively.
In this article, we’ll be examining some of those challenges, as well as offering some tips to staff your senior care facility more effectively.
The Challenges of Assisted Living Staffing
- Workforce Shortage: The nursing shortage continues to affect all aspects of healthcare, but for senior care facilities, where skilled workers are desperately needed to meet the increasing demands of an aging population, the shortage is even more acutely felt.
- Recruitment Difficulties: Many positions within an assisted living facility require specialized skills, limiting the candidate pool, while negative perceptions of the industry or job description can make recruiting new talent difficult.
- Training & Development: Having a properly trained, professionally developed staff is essential to providing high-quality care in senior facilities. But limited resources and time constraints often make it challenging to provide employees with the type of comprehensive training they require.
- Staffing Ratios: The higher the staff-to-resident ratio in assisted living facilities, the better. With the nursing shortage, however, combined with high demand and budgetary constraints, staffing levels can become insufficient, leading to increased workload and additional stress for employees.
- Job Demands & Workload: Caregivers in senior care facilities are often tasked with multiple responsibilities, including administering medication, monitoring health conditions, completing administrative tasks, and assisting residents with their daily living. Balancing all of the demands of the job, with such personalized care, can negatively affect staff morale and make it hard to attract new employees.
- Physical & Emotional Strain: The type of people who are often drawn to jobs in assisted living facilities—compassionate, committed people—can be more susceptible to the emotional strains of managing end-of-life care. Also, the physical demands of the job–assisting residents in and out of beds and wheelchairs, helping them use the bathroom –can take a heavy toll as well.
- High Turnover Rate: Because of all these factors, a high turnover rate is an unfortunate reality of the staffing system in senior care facilities. Long hours coupled with the physical and emotional nature of the job can all contribute to burnout, which in turn leads to turnover, putting even more strain on the current staff.
One estimate shows that replacing a senior care employee can cost a facility anywhere between $3,500-$5,000.
Best Practices for Staffing Senior Care Facilities
Addressing the staffing challenges faced by assisted living facilities takes a multi-pronged approach that includes competitive compensation and benefits, comprehensive training and support, promoting work-life balance, and prioritizing staff well-being and professional development. But first, you have to get the right employees in your facility’s doors. That’s where a staffing platform like NurseIO can be a huge help.
NurseIO, a web and app-based technology that connects qualified clinicians with per diem shifts at local senior care facilities, offers several key advantages that a traditional senior care agency cannot, including:
- Effortlessly fill staffing gaps and flex your workforce on demand
- Access an available network of go-to clinicians with the right credentials
- Find coverage for short-term leaves without hiring additional full-time staff
- Predict and project staffing costs with no hidden fees
If you’re a facility looking to shake up the assisted living staffing model by off-loading your HR and Payroll responsibilities, simply upload your open schedules to the NurseIO platform and solve your senior care staffing challenges today!