Navigating Skilled Nursing Challenges in a Post-COVID-19 Landscape: A Health Care Professional’s Perspective
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of healthcare has been forever transformed. As a healthcare professional deeply rooted in the Skilled Nursing sector, I have witnessed firsthand the unprecedented challenges that have arisen due to the changes brought about by the pandemic and how these challenges continue to shape the industry as we move forward into 2023.
The pandemic’s impact was swift and profound, reshaping established processes and fundamentally altering human interaction within traditional systems. Skilled Nursing Facilities, which have always thrived on hands-on care, found themselves at a crossroads as the pandemic necessitated a shift in approach. The increased focus on the new way of life strained existing processes that still demanded the same level of attention.
However, the challenges extended beyond the immediate crisis. Staffing, a cornerstone of effective healthcare provision, emerged as a critical issue. While recruiting competent staff was a hurdle, the real concern for administrators became staff retention. The cost of hiring new personnel, coupled with the challenge of maintaining their job satisfaction, placed administrators in a precarious position. Furthermore, administrators had to take on multiple roles to compensate for unfilled positions, diverting them from their core duty of resident care.
The solutions to these challenges have become imperative, as the path forward in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) remains intricate and multifaceted.
Addressing Staffing Challenges
Attracting and retaining administrators became a pivotal focus for hiring operators. To retain administrators, creative strategies were devised, ranging from ensuring work-life balance and offering housing benefits to increasing wages. Incorporating technologies like automated workflows, which streamline time-consuming tasks, proved indispensable. Learning from the competition in other industries, SNFs had to adopt appealing benefits to fill crucial positions.
A recent Pulse Survey conducted by Skilled Nursing News underscored the gravity of the hiring and retention issues in the industry. The survey highlighted two predominant concerns, accounting for 57% of the responses: stiff competition for talent from other healthcare providers and a shortage of qualified applicants.
However, it’s essential to recognize that these challenges aren’t new; they have ebbed and flowed over time. Drawing from my personal lineage in the Skilled Nursing Industry, I remember my father’s efforts to address staffing shortages in the 1980s, even collaborating with foreign governments to set up training programs. The recurrent nature of these challenges calls for consistent solutions.
Proposed Strategies for Staffing Woes
While not universally applicable, the challenges faced by the SNF industry reflect broader trends across various sectors. One possible solution involves outsourcing certain roles overseas, a strategy my father explored decades ago. This approach not only provides opportunities to capable individuals but also addresses critical staffing shortages.
Another avenue is embracing technological innovations to bolster competitiveness. Unlike other healthcare markets, SNFs have been perceived as lagging in technology adoption. By implementing state-of-the-art technologies like Flowtrics, which automate core processes and task management, SNFs can modernize their operations and appeal to younger generations entering the field.
Adapting to Change in a Post-Pandemic Era
In this evolving landscape, administrators must actively engage in labor management, wage structuring, and technology exploration. Embracing change can be challenging, but it’s often these very changes that drive the evolution of systems, technologies, methodologies, and processes. Administrators who demonstrate flexibility stand to reap substantial benefits, driving improvement and growth within their facilities.
Transition, albeit daunting, can be a catalyst for advancement. Evaluating and upgrading system processes is pivotal. Churchill’s words, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often,” encapsulate the spirit of growth through transformation.
Paving the Way for Administrator Retention
To retain staff despite profound changes, dual approaches can be adopted—one focusing on operators and the other on administrators.
Operators can ease administrators’ burdens by automating tasks through technology, reducing redundancy, and enhancing organizational efficiency. By embracing intelligent admin systems and investing in processes that simplify tasks, operators can improve work-life balance and customer experience simultaneously.
Administrators, on the other hand, hold their destiny in their hands. Focusing on workplace benefits and relationships, leveraging technology to automate tasks, mastering regulatory processes, and embracing delegation are key to thriving in their roles. Acknowledging the importance of self-care and occasionally taking breaks is equally vital for emotional and physical well-being.
Staff retention remains paramount for growth in any organization, especially in the dynamic landscape of healthcare. Cultivating future leaders is integral to progress, and adaptation to change is the key. By nurturing individual growth, administrators contribute collectively to positive transformations that enrich their own experiences and ultimately enhance the quality of care in the Skilled Nursing sector.