Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
When I spoke about the challenges of staff turnover at the Louisiana Nursing Home Association convention last week, I asked the group, “If you were able to bring in the same salary you were currently making, would you want to have the job of an aide?”
The response was a ratio that would likely hold at any LTC convention – in an audience of close to two hundred people, only one person said yes.
“You do realize what we’re doing here,” I commented. “Over the next hour or so we’re going to talk about how to get people to take and remain with jobs we wouldn’t want to have ourselves.”
As attendees pointed out, being an aide is physically and emotionally demanding work for low pay, little autonomy and not enough respect. These downsides – once partially offset by longstanding, gratifying relationships with medically stable, cognitively intact residents – have given way to more challenges as facilities take in increasing numbers of shorter-term, higher acuity residents.
To woo workers to the field – and keep them from the lure of relatively stress-free retail positions at the same pay – it might be time to re-envision our role as employers.
They come for the “special sauce” – and they’ll stay for the buffet
The main appeal of jobs in long-term care (our “special sauce,” if you will) is the opportunity to help others. No fast food joint can compete with that. We need to offer more, however, if we want our workers to stick with us.
In addition to traditional benefits, we can enhance our appeal by providing a “buffet” of nontraditional benefits that build on our missions and on employees’ desires to help others.
One of the unique features of LTC is our access to wisdom from elders, which can offer perspective on life and how to live it. If we envision ourselves not just as caregivers for the aged and ailing but also as organizations that can impart life wisdom to those with whom we come into contact, we can strengthen our allure as employers.
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