Caregivers are the backbone and most vital element in short-term and long-term care facilities. Hiring and maintaining compassionate, competent, and well-trained staff is imperative in each skilled nursing, assisted living, and rehabilitation center or facility.
Caregivers in an elderly living facility include housekeepers, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietary specialists, recreation and activity specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and more. Many aspects go on behind the scenes to have a care facility run smoothly, and caregivers should not go unrecognized.
Healthcare workers have been especially burned out and overworked since the pandemic. Because of this, many care facilities have increased their efforts to give caregivers extra support. Often, caregivers can experience burnout, and nursing facilities have been working on decreasing cases of burnout and being aware of caregivers’ emotional needs. Nursing facilities have incredible caregivers, and management teams have been increasing their efforts to recognize, reward, and give much-needed breaks to hardworking caregivers.
One rehabilitation center reports bringing a new staff member their favorite foods from local lunch and coffee chains each week. Another facility has implemented weekly awards with prizes for recognizing caregivers.
Recognition, rewards, prizes, and favorite foods are all great boosts for caregivers but facilities are working to do more. Care facilities are also focusing on helping educate their caregivers on self-care and working to establish work and personal life boundaries and balance.
Another critical aspect of creating a positive environment for caregivers, and thus the optimal environment for the patients in their care, is adequate staffing. Nursing homes have often combatted problems with understaffing, and this problem was made worse because of the pandemic.
One way facilities are working to solve this short-staffing problem is by focusing their efforts on hiring and training newly graduated nurses. Often nurses stay in their chosen field for their entire careers. Facilities are focusing on understanding the reasons nurses would be hesitant to have a career in geriatrics, addressing the struggles of being a brand new nurse, and implementing tactics to meet their unique needs.
The main three tactics to encourage newly graduated nurses to choose senior care facilities are implementing a mentorship program, facilitating relationships with established colleagues, and having a plan in place for when new nurses feel discouraged or overwhelmed.
First, having a mentor program helps new nurses plan for professional development, have support from an expert, and gain the necessary knowledge to work in geriatrics. Second, facilitating colleague relationships helps new nurses feel connected to their team, helps them feel less lonely or isolated, and allows them to be a part of a group that shares the same passion for senior healthcare. Finally, having a plan in place to help support overwhelmed or discouraged nurses is beneficial because new nurses will get overwhelmed, and having a support plan can help them regain confidence, control, and ability to overcome their struggles.
In conclusion, caregivers are of vital importance to senior care facilities. Caregivers work tirelessly to help their patients. A strong caregiver team encourages a healthy, happy environment for seniors to get well again, make friendships, and feel fulfilled in their care home.
Jon Hoffman LNHA, Chief Operating Officer for Management and Network Services and a 30 plus year veteran in long term care support serves on the Educational Foundation of the Ohio Health Care Association. When asked about caregivers Jon stated, “First off, we have to take care of those who care for our patients and our residents. We do this by giving a hand up to those who wish to grow and continue their educational journey in caregiving. Secondly, all of us, from Skilled Nursing Facilities to Health Systems to Hospice and Home Health, we have to create and ignite a spark for those seeking a profession in our communities: that spark has to be “CARE MATTERS”. Caring is not just a noble profession, it’s a choice to put others first, to share your knowledge and your compassion for others. #CAREMATTERS”