As I reviewed the many recent long-term care happenings and articles to select a topic for this week’s blog, my mind kept returning to the fascinating column by researchers Lindsey Creapeau and Jennifer Johs-Artisensi, “Nursing assistants’ perspective holds the key to solving your staffing woes.”
Their study asked nursing home administrators, directors of nursing and certified nursing assistants their perspectives on the staffing challenges in the field. While they all agreed upon the need to raise wages, there were significant discrepancies between nursing home leaders and staff members.
While the administrators and DONs pointed to “competition (other long-term care sites or even those in other industries), low wages, shortages of candidates to apply, the physically and emotionally demanding nature of the job, and low federal/state reimbursement” as the main factors affecting recruitment and retention, CNAs focused on dissatisfaction with job training and the work environment.
In addition, CNAs wanted more emotional and practical support in their jobs but didn’t express as much distress regarding workloads as the leadership groups anticipated. The aides had many suggestions for improving the work environment, such as increased control over their schedules, onsite childcare and assistance with transportation to work.
I was struck by the disparities between leaders and workers.
It was as if the groups spoke different “love languages,” leading me to imagine this scene:
Administrator, thinking staff spoke the love language akin to “receiving gifts”: “I thought you left me because you could get more money for easier work at the fast-food place down the block.”
CNA, valuing the love languages akin to “quality time” and “words of affirmation”: “No, I was devoted to my residents, but I left because you never listened to me.”
The study shows the value of asking and listening to staff, illuminating areas where administrators and DONs could direct their time, attention and funding to make the greatest impact.
For those who don’t have the opportunity to be part of a similar research study, there are many other ways to get feedback from workers, including the ideas below:
Survey employees: Hire a consultant to solicit and compile worker perspectives. If tackling this in-house, bear in mind that the way in which questions are asked can affect responses and that staffers will feel more open about sharing their thoughts if some level of anonymity is assured.