As I stated in my last column, improving the emotional tenor of the facility can decrease staff turnover. In this piece, I’ll offer additional ideas to achieve that goal.
Most organizations have a consulting psychologist on the team who can spearhead or contribute to the recommendations below. Psychologists are capable of far more than providing direct services to residents.
Psychologists are in a unique position not only by virtue of their understanding of research and their extensive training in individual and group behavior, but also because they spend most of their time on the units, moving from floor to floor talking to residents, staff and family members.
This allows them to see patterns from unit to unit and to observe interactions usually hidden from those in leadership positions. Their expertise can improve the functioning and atmosphere of the nursing home.
Even under conditions where there are reasonably paid and sufficient staff, the nursing home is a stressful environment. As noted in this STAT first opinion piece, “We all need help working through grief and hardship,” staff members may be coping with their own personal losses while trying to care for others. Given COVID-19’s impact on long-term care facilities, virtually every worker is dealing with grief and a “minefield of triggers” on the job.
The authors suggest enhancing policies to provide “systematic supports and anticipatory guidance.” Psychological knowledge would be valuable in formulating these systemwide strategies. Employee assistance programs, support groups and psychologist open office hours are other means to help workers manage common stressors such as team conflicts, difficult residents and family problems.
In addition to direct emotional support, there are many other ways to mitigate stressors on the job.
Restructuring and education