It is no secret that taking care of the elderly in a nursing home is an incredibly important role that carries with it responsibilities of magnanimous proportions. In addition to offering physical aid to avoid falls and encourage mobility through physical exercises, nurses must also build rapport with their residents so that they may offer them emotional support through their caretaking process. However, the daily routine of caring for several residents often becomes exhausting for these nurses, leaving them burned out. Such exhaustion often results in a nurse leaving the facility and the relationships he or she has built with the residents. This common phenomenon among nursing home caretakers causes either a high turnover rate amongst nurses, or leaves the facility constantly understaffed.
A recent study published by The Gerontological Society of America explores the relationship that exists between nurse turnover and nursing home resident re-hospitalization. They find that many hospital readmissions may be prevented if the quality of nursing home care is improved through the hiring of more licensed nurses and licensed practical nurses. As it stands, they estimate that about 28% to a staggering 40% of re-hospitalizations may be avoided. In order to improve the quality of care, nursing homes must hire enough licensed nurses and keep them for long periods of time so that the care may be consistent. The study found that higher licensed nurse staffing correlated with lower licensed nurse turnover rates. More importantly this showed that increasing a nurse retention rate by 10% would reduce hospital readmission rates by 19%. This occurs because a long term stay at a nursing position fosters specialized knowledge which better equips nurses to provide a higher quality of care for residents.
In order to promote higher nurse retention rates in nursing homes, these facilities must invest time in constructing strategies to encourage long-term job retention. A nursing home’s priority must be to provide the highest quality of care to their residents. This includes ensuring that their residents’ needs to be hospitalized are minimized by maximizing the assistance they receive from professional nurses at the facility. In addition to the benefits conceded to residents from increasing nurse retention, there is also an economic incentive derived from it. Many nursing home administrators mistakenly believe that staff turnover is a money-saving strategy. However, nursing homes with higher performance levels on staff turnover, retention, and avoidable hospitalizations receive extra money from the CMS Nursing Home Value-Based Purchasing. Additionally, those that have an increased rate of Medicare hospital readmissions are actually sanctioned by receiving lower Medicare payments.