How to support depressed workers and reduce absenteeism

As a consulting psychologist, my official job is to provide psychological services to the residents of the nursing homes in which I work. Occasionally, though, I’m asked by a department head to informally assist a staff member in distress and, more frequently, a teammate comes to me for a referral for herself or a family … Read more

Why Five-Star ratings should measure staff retention, not staff ratios

The Five-Star Quality Rating System reports the results of health inspections, staffing and quality measures. I suggest we replace the current staffing measure with one tracking staff retention. Here’s my logic: The existing staffing score is the ratio of nursing staff to residents, taking care needs into account. In allowing for self-reporting of the data, … Read more

The added value of social workers and psychosocial services

The top recommendation in the April 9 McKnight’s article “Researchers share 6 tips to improve nursing home care for blacks and Latinos” was to include a social worker on staff in the facility. “Great,” a reader commented, but “ask CMS … if they will pay for it.” Perhaps, though better yet, social workers will pay … Read more

Taking teamwork to a deeper level

When we think of teamwork in long-term care, we envision a group of dedicated specialists working together to provide the best care for our residents. They read notes from other disciplines, bounce ideas off colleagues at the nursing station and convene care plan meetings. In reality, teamwork in long-term care is much more complex. Teamwork … Read more

The keys to reducing turnover in long-term care

“They keep giving me these new aides and they don’t know what they’re doing,” a disgruntled resident commented during a psychotherapy session. “You’re not the first person to tell me that,” I replied, looking for a way to acknowledge her experience without criticizing either the facility or the new aides. “You have the honor of … Read more

To reduce burnout and turnover, improve family-staff relationships

Earlier this month, I took some much-needed time off to go on a cruise. I came home to a LinkedIn notification about “The big cost of not taking vacation,” reflecting on a CNN article regarding the vast number of vacation days forfeited by Americans. The author notes that people who travel tend to be happier … Read more