Alora Health

How Education can be a Difference Maker in Caregiver Retention

Strong education focus can reduce caregiver turnover in your agency

As the most seasoned, baby boomer generation of nurses are retiring from bedside nursing, they are taking years of know-how with them. Compounding the loss of these nurses are the scores of new nurses leaving their positions within their first year of work. Why do they leave? Amongst the top reasons nurses leave include caregiver burnout, unstable work environment and career advancement elsewhere. Another obstacle in health care, is the well-known education practice gap, in which novice nurses and their managers do not feel they are prepared to care for complex clients right out of school. Without adequate support for new nurses, or addressing well known problems in caregiver retention, homecare agencies can plan on a revolving door of caregiving staff for years to come.

Resources become stretched when preventing caregiver turnover proves difficult. This can simply fuel the turnover cycle into further trouble when remaining staff are asked to work with less, and onboard new staff more often. The ripple effect of turnover often negatively impacts multiple layers of the agency. Patients and families can become unhappy with inconsistencies in caregivers, scheduling patient visits with limited resources becomes an even more difficult task, growth of the agency can be stunted, and spending on recruitment and onboarding of new staff can significantly drain budgets


Educational Awareness and Solutions

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

Defined simply as the outcome of chronic workplace stress, burnout in caregivers leads to less productivity, poor patient outcomes, overall unhappiness with the caregiving role and can creep in and negatively impact personal mental health and well-being. Home care agencies can take steps to educate their staff to become aware of common symptoms of burnout such as constantly feeling overworked, tired, unhappy with your job and unappreciated. Irritability or trouble with sleeping or concentrating can also be indicative of caregiver burnout.

Aside from making sure the workplace itself is pleasant and supportive (via caregiver support groups, tools for workplace ease and productivity like home health software, and establishing caregiver appreciation events), ultimately agencies can promote a supportive culture that is resilient to burnout through education. This can be done by promoting awareness, accepting the phenomenon as a potential reality within their organization, and developing or utilizing existing resources for caregivers. Some ideas of burnout prevention tools may include:

  • Promoting a culture of balance in which caregiver boundaries are respected and allows for rest, relaxation, and a break from work.
  • Ensure scheduling of caregivers is conducive to promote enough sleep between shifts, especially when 24/7 caregiver support is needed.
  • Ensure caregivers have access to open communication with leadership to discuss any workplace concerns.
  • Allow time for the development of strong interpersonal relationships to link caregivers and others within the agency together for emotional support.
  • Have nurses in your agency enroll in the American Nurses Association’s “Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation” program to promote resiliency through addressing the topics of nutrition, rest, quality of life, safety, mental health, and activity.

Career Advancement through Education

Adopting policies to support caregivers through professional development or career advancement through education can make a positive impact on agency retention. In addition to learning new skills and staying up to date with practices, agencies that support training build trust in their caregivers due to a demonstrated commitment to employees. As an added benefit to the agency, caregivers with a larger knowledge base often outperform peers in their quality of work.

Ideas for ways to promote advancement through education for caregivers may include:

  • Empowering nurses to pilot the implementation of a new evidence-based practice learned from continuing education within their agency and provide recognition for dedication to quality improvement.
  • Promoting nurses to gain Home Health Nursing Certification (RN-BC) with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, or certification in geriatric care, and provide a bonus incentive for passing certification exams.
  • Hosting training on-site specifically related to the population cared for including dementia, preventing of pressure injuries and falls, end-of-life care, environmental safety training and/or basic hygiene and give continuing education units (CEUs) for training.

Career advancement does not always need to be a move out of caregiver positions, rather, challenging staff with new opportunities or tasks of which they are interested in can promote buy-in to current employers. Preventing mediocrity and job dissatisfaction is a benefit of career advancement through education.

Education to Close the Practice Gap

A novice nurse with both book smarts and street smarts is a rare gem. The education practice gap in nursing is well known, and homecare agencies are wise to invest in a robust onboarding program to retain novice nurses, and those new to the homecare setting. New employee orientation lays the foundation for an employee’s success within the agency. Decreased caregiver role stress, improved confidence in care, autonomous practice and quality patient care are just a few benefits to a quality orientation rooted in education that bridges the education practice gap within homecare. Over time, the agency benefits from the retention of caregivers, and an overall boost to the agency’s image.

Strategies to successfully educate caregivers novice to homecare include both classroom time and hands-on education through partnering new caregivers with trusted, seasoned staff for patient visits. Ensure caregivers are being trained on the expected standard of practice according to the agency’s policy for various commonly performed tasks or practices. Allow new caregivers to not only learn about their role expectations but see it in action through quality mentorship at patient visits.

Education is a powerful influence and a driving factor in caregiver retention. Homecare agencies can make small deposits through education in their current and future caregivers to achieve a positive return on investment.

Related blogs – Helpful Links / Resources

Alora’s home health software solution is ideal for agencies operating in both skilled and non-skilled care. For more than 20 years Alora has simplified workflow for countless agencies, helping them serve over 850,000 patients, while fostering growth and efficiency. Building a strong agency culture where caregivers enjoy their work starts with making their job as simple as possible. Alora makes everything involved with day-to day workflow easier, so agencies can thrive with simplicity and focus on patient care.

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