By Tara Drosset
Post-acute care workers are the backbone of care for millions of elderly and disabled Americans. But the workforce crisis continues to plague health organizations everywhere, as the demand for post-acute clinicians is expected to reach 7.8 million as early as 2026. Employers and employees alike are feeling the strain as they struggle to keep up with a quickly growing senior population. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans 65 and older is projected to reach a colossal 83.9 million by 2050.
How can post-acute leaders adopt and implement strategies that make it easier to recruit, engage, and retain top talent?
To find out, we reached out to Paul Morave, Enterprise Executive for Medical Solutions’ Client Success team, on what successful strategies he’s seeing post-acute organizations adopt to source and retain top talent. Here’s what he had to say:
“Right now, it’s no secret most post-acute facilities are understaffed and face staffing challenges. Post-acute may not be the first choice for many skilled clinicians, but there are advantages to working in post-acute facilities that leadership can use to their advantage to both attract and retain quality staff.”
Benefits of working post-acute
“For one, nurses in post-acute facilities have more individual responsibilities than in higher acuity settings, and have the autonomy to make more important, in-the-moment decisions,” said Morave. “This type of enhanced responsibility can open more doors for RNs, LPNs, and CNAs.
And second, there’s the ability to see the positive effects they have on patients and their families up close versus what clinicians might experience with quick patient turnaround in hospitals and acute facilities. Since a patient’s stay in post-acute tends to be much longer-term than acute, there is more ability to foster quality, meaningful relationships with both residents and their families. In post-acute, the focus is more on improving the quality of patients’ lives, whereas in the hospitals, it’s more on healing patients and sending them home.”
While the overall goals of care in many post-acute settings differ from those in acute care roles, these are experiences that are unique to the post-acute sector and difficult to find anywhere else.
According to a recent AHCA/NCAL survey, 97 percent of nursing home providers say a lack of interest from qualified candidates is a major obstacle to recruitment. Hiring managers that can find creative ways to highlight the emotional, meaningful, and professional advantages of working in post-acute care are sure to see more success in attracting clinicians who are searching for more autonomy and relationship-building in their day-to-day.
What changes can post-acute leadership adopt to recruit, engage, and retain quality staff?
While clinicians are highly motivated by the desire to help others, the financial well-being of themselves and their families will always take precedence.
“Right now, nurses, CNAs, and other staff typically find higher pay in acute/hospital settings,” said Morave. “Since quite a bit of the staff in post-acute facilities, especially CNAs, tend to live more paycheck to paycheck, paying them weekly or daily and incentivizing with bonuses for a job well done can do wonders to help attract and engage clinicians.”
If adjustments to pay are not possible, get creative with referral bonuses. Referral programs not only give you great candidates, but they also keep existing employees engaged as well. Incentivize your top-performing employees to bring over their friends because it will create a more comfortable and productive work environment.
People want their lives to come first, and post-acute organizations must find ways to help support that. Flexibility as a tool can be used to attract and retain the new wave of Gen Z clinicians, who, above all, prioritize a healthy work-life balance.
“People are busy and have quite a bit going on in their lives, so offering schedules that fit around the employee’s individual needs, whether that’s childcare, home care, or educational advancement, can drastically improve retention.”
Increased time-off opportunities, self-scheduling, alternative shifts–these slight adjustments can make a dramatic difference in both clinician engagement and patient care.
3. Advancement opportunities
“And finally, offering more advancement opportunities is also a way to help attract and retain staff.”
With the steady rising of acuity and complexity in post-acute care, comes new care challenges and more opportunities for professional growth. But for some employees, that alone may not be enough. Offering value-based opportunities for personal or professional advancement, like cross-training or tuition reimbursements, can lead to an overall improved emotional investment in a clinician’s work, and to your facility.
Medical Solutions can help.
The post-acute care gap is deepening, long-term care needs are evolving, and career needs and preferences of the healthcare workforce are shifting. If you’re unsure where to start or need additional advice and support, we recommend a Medical Solutions Leadership Consultant.
“A Leadership Consultant will come into your facility and work closely with your staff to administer recruitment and retention strategies unique to your specific needs,” said Morave. “We find that clients who take us up on this offer quickly see an improved facility census and work environment. For more details, call Paul!”
For more information, connect with Paul Morave or reach out to Medical Solutions!
Connect with Morave on LinkedIn