Amid industry-wide staff shortages, hospices are gradually focusing on strategies to reduce turnover and improve employee satisfaction. Recent research indicates that providers can do more to meet the work / life balance needs of palliative care staff and cheer up to alleviate burnout and grow their workforce as they face the additional pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff issues were reported as a first challenge in 2020 for end-of-life care providers in a Hospice News poll earlier this year. The investigation was carried out before the start of the pandemic. More than a quarter of respondents identified labor shortages as a major concern, outweighing the emphasis on competition in a crowded hospice space.
Many hospices have reassessed employee leave with pay (PTO) policies to help meet the needs of staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s no secret that working in the healthcare industry amid COVID-19 has been tough,” said Angela Rhoads, senior vice president of home health and care business lines. palliatives of Interim HealthCare. “Some Interim HealthCare franchise owners have provided additional help, such as risk premium, child care assistance, and additional power take-off for staff members to ease their burden during COVID-19.”
Research published this summer in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research found that providing resources for facilitating self-care and supporting staff for balanced workloads could improve the quality of life for interdisciplinary palliative care teams and the patients and families they serve.
“We asked interviewees working in a hospice what made them feel valued and supported in their work environment,” said Rebecca Lehto, associate professor at Michigan State University College of Nursing. “From there, we talked about the challenges of their burnout experiences related to palliative care work: how they handled it, what kinds of recommendations from their perspective that organizations could implement to help with work-related stressors. “
Previously an oncology nurse with clinical experience serving patients with advanced terminal disease at the end of life, Lehto was part of a team of researchers collaborating on the study examining the workforce satisfaction of home and community hospices. Feedback was first gathered from surveys directed to palliative care staff in various organizational and clinical roles and in urban and rural geographic settings across the state of Michigan before six focus groups based on the discussion.
The study found that hospice workers felt both rewarded and challenged in their roles around end-of-life, with burnout and heavy workloads being stressors. Respondents cited the lack of support staff for time off and the need for organizations to provide more opportunities for self-care during working hours as strategies for hospice providers to improve employee satisfaction. and reduce high turnover.
Palliative care providers have stepped up staff appreciation efforts during the coronavirus pandemic under additional pressure for staff facing risk of exposure to themselves, patients and their families.
“Our franchise owners have been great since the start of the pandemic in implementing programs to show their appreciation to caregivers and other staff,” Rhoads said. “From drive-through breakfasts to gift basket deliveries, they’ve really stepped up to show compassion and recognize the great work their employees do during this incredibly difficult time.”
Providers moving forward with the strategies might focus on providing staff with opportunities throughout their workday to take care of themselves under the stress of caring for dying patients and supporting them. their families. With pressures from COVID-19 refocusing direction of palliative care on employees Mental Health needs, providers encouraging staff to take care of themselves could reduce burnout and turnover rates.
“Anything that can foster work-life integration, I think, is essential for hospice providers,” Lehto told Hospice News. “Having self-care built in is something that is just part of what everyone else does, and maybe there’s an incentive around people doing things for you to get points or earn. something, that was one of the things that research participants were pretty clear about. They didn’t just want people to give them pizza or something. Just having this perception among employees that leadership is listening and that they really care about the impact on staff – especially during the pandemic, it really amplifies some of these workforce issues. existing works. “