Ever wonder why there is a caregiver shortage, besides the obvious fact that our aging population is demanding more caregivers? Ever think about the reason behind the appalling turnover in most organizations?
At the rates that are currently paid, many say because of low reimbursement levels, many caregivers need two jobs to support their families. Caregivers are known to suffer from injuries on the job. Frequently these injuries result in life long pain and permanent disabilities. The industry is riddled with burnout and low employee engagement.
Yet, if you ask the caregivers in your organization, “Why do you do this work?” I guarantee you most of them will share stories of loved ones that inspired them to work in the field and the love they have for the patients and residents that keeps them in the field.
We must not define a caregiver’s role as someone who assists with daily living activities, but rather someone who is improving the lives of seniors. Because, after all that is what they are doing, or should be doing. Task master to life enhancer.
How can we better support caregivers and improve the caregiver shortage?
For starters we can show them more respect and appreciation. We can honor why they got into the field in the first place. We can redefine the role of a caregiver to focus on enhancing a person’s life.
What’s the identity you have been consciously or unconsciously supporting for your caregivers? Would you like it to more accurately reflect the outcomes you are looking for? Try one of these suggestions:
1. Consider job titles, job descriptions, evaluations and any other tools that have the ability to support an identity of “life enhancer”. For example, in evaluations focus on the behaviors that build relationships between staff and residents, not just tasks. What item in the evaluation shows that a staff member supports and honors residents choices and decisions?
2. Ask staff why they do the work they do. Most likely they came into this work with the identity of someone wanting to make a difference. Remind them of that original passion! (Check out a past blog of mine for more on this topic.)
3. Be mindful of the words that you speak. Not only formal, but also informal reinforcers should point to the new identity you want to create: that of making another person’s life better. For example, when you observe a caregiver that is honoring a resident’s choice you can state, “Thank you for going out of your way to support that resident’s decision.”
Changing job titles and forms just because it’s the “in” thing to do is a total waste of your time and your team will see right through it! Make sure your actions and messages, both formal and informal, match the changes you are making. As a leader it is your duty to ensure all of your staff are proud of the work that they do and the contribution they make to your organization!
About the Author
A former nursing home and assisted living administrator herself, Denise B. Scott guides people into identifying the possibilities within their organization. She then helps them embrace and sustain the changes needed to make those possibilities come to life. Denise B. Scott, LLC, helps healthcare organizations improve the resident and staff experience, and the bottom-line, through stronger leaders and engaged employees.