Don't look 'over there' to fix staffing over here

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James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Whether you're Republican, Democrat or independent, you might do well to listen to Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker.

Gingrich recently told providers they have the means to improve staffing challenges themselves. 

Speaking at the annual fall meeting of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, Gingrich praised the staff at his late mother's nursing facility in Harrisburg, PA. He watched. He knows.

Perhaps most significantly, he formerly co-chaired the National Commission for Long-Term Care and a few related efforts. 

At NIC, the conservative firebrand offered a mellowed performance, but it was worth the price of admission. Rather than holding your breath for relief coming from the federal government on currently uncertain immigration affairs, Gingrich advised taking care of the home fires.

Online education is the way to go, Gingrich asserted several times. Internet learning could be your salvation for recruitment, training and career ladders for your workers. He emphasized that long-term care is one of “very few” professions in such a good position to maximize continuing education this way.

It could have a “dramatic” and “huge impact on the workforce,” the former university instructor said.

“Bringing in immigrants is not the primary solution,” he added with a shake of the head. Taken at face value from one of Donald Trump's biggest supporters, that might come off as xenophobic rhetoric, but it wasn't delivered, nor do I think intended, that way.

 “I cannot over-emphasize the emergence of online learning opportunities,” Gingrich continued, adding it could bring “fundamental” change. “It would be less expensive to have employees learn within the system. It would dramatically expand your usable workforce.”

Workers might be less enthused about other suggestions, which include more use of robots and automation, like the Japanese have.

So if electronic health records can be a savior (and they can), why can't online instruction and learning?

Any steps that management can take to stem the tide of outgoing employees – which triggers high recruitment and replacement costs – should be hailed. And heeded. Tools are available.

Taking care of employees already in the fold should take precedence. The survival of your business might depend on it.