As long-term care grows more complex, experienced nurses are essential for managing residents’ complex needs and mentoring younger staff. Last year nursing assistants and aides were turning over at a 10% higher rate than nurses, but that’s starting to flip. Recent reports point to a higher percentage of RNs who are now considering leaving their roles. Facilities must undergo a cultural shift to retain these crucial nursing veterans.
McKnight’s recent webinar, “Building Culture That Retains Experienced LTC Nurses,” presented by former long-term care owner and operator, Sean Carney, and IntelyCare’s Director of Education, Rachel West, MHA, MSN, RN, provided actionable tactics for fostering a culture that motivates experienced nurses and increases retention. They shared valuable insights into the following key areas:
- The impact of trust, transparency, and open communication on culture.
- The significance of fair and equitable reward systems and disciplinary processes in cultivating a positive culture.
- The importance of providing access to continuing education and establishing clear career advancement paths.
- Strategies for turning external staff into a valuable cultural asset.
Don’t have time to watch the full webinar? This blog covers the main questions posed to Sean by Rachel and summarizes the responses. Read on to learn more.
How does the culture of a long-term care facility impact the retention of nursing staff, particularly experienced nurses?
There are three main pillars of culture that have an enormous impact on staff retention:
- Recognition and appreciation
- A supportive work environment
- Professional development
Without a concentrated and meaningful focus on these three things, experienced nurses are much more likely to leave a long-term care facility in search of new work opportunities.
Regularly acknowledging the expertise and dedication of experienced nurses goes a long way. Try implementing something like a “Nurse of the Month” program to celebrate the contributions of individuals who truly go above and beyond in their jobs.
Fostering open communication between management and nursing staff is also critical to keeping staff feeling happy and supported. Encourage teamwork and mutual respect to further establish a positive and supportive work atmosphere.
Finally, offering professional development opportunities goes a long way. Nurses are required to complete continuing education courses regularly to maintain their licenses – why not invest in educational resources that are exciting and built specifically for them, with an array of individual course and course bundle options? Showing that you care about your nurses’ career growth inspires loyalty.
What are some effective strategies that nursing home administrators and leadership can implement to create a culture that retains experienced nurses?
Emphasizing work-life balance and empowering nurse leadership are two ways that administrators can help build a culture that retains experienced nurses. There’s no way to deny it – today’s workforce wants flexible scheduling options. If you can accommodate personal needs and preferences, you can win the loyalty of your staff.
In addition, if you create opportunities for experienced nurses to take on leadership roles within your facility, you are empowering a segment of your team whom you need to help foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among your staff. The nurses you’ve hired know how to care for your residents better than anyone else does. Let them lead the way, and they will be happy to stay.
How can facilities address the issue of burnout and compassion fatigue among experienced nurses to ensure their long-term retention?
Addressing burnout and compassion fatigue starts with being able to recognize what they are.
- Compassion fatigue comes from dealing with and being part of traumatic experiences.
- Burnout comes from occupational stress and being overworked.
- Moral injury (often mislabeled as one of the previous two) comes from experiencing an internal conflict between what someone wants to do, and what they feel they can do.
Once you know what these issues are, there are things you can do to address them, such as:
- Offer stress-relief activities, such as yoga or meditation
- Provide counseling services or employee assistance programs
- Create a space in your facility where staff can go to take time to de-stress, perhaps with aromatherapy and calming light
- Promote regular breaks for nurses to recharge during shifts
- Double down on your efforts to offer flexible scheduling to your staff
Can you provide examples of successful initiatives or programs that have been implemented to retain experienced nurses in long-term care facilities?
Offering career advancement opportunities is a great way to elevate experienced nurses at your facility, as well as to put more junior nurses on track toward growth.
“Nurse of the Month” programs can also be extremely successful when it comes to employee retention. The element of public recognition to honor outstanding nurses can be done creatively, such as by reserving a parking spot near the front entrance of your building for the “Nurse of the Month” to park.
Finally, conducting regular surveys or hosting feedback sessions to gather input from experienced nurses can be extremely helpful to get a pulse on what is working at your facility and what is not. Actively addressing concerns head on can help improve job satisfaction and staff retention.
How can long-term care facilities foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among nursing staff to enhance retention rates?
Organizing team-building activities and events like annual retreats or team outings can strengthen bonds among nursing staff and create a supportive work environment that enhances retention rates. Encouraging cross-department collaboration and communication through regular meetings and shared projects can also increase the amount of teamwork among staff members and foster a sense of belonging within the facility that makes it a place where people are happy to work and want to stay.
Involving the residents, their families, and the community in facility activities can be a really impactful way to enhance culture and retain experienced nurses. The better the atmosphere of a workplace, the better retention rates you will see.
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