Flexible work, pressure ulcer rates linked

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Nursing homes where staff had more control over scheduling registered lower rates of pressure ulcers among residents, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology.

Researchers affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Pennsylvania State University surveyed 1,083 nurses and certified nursing assistants from 30 long-term care facilities in New England.

Staff reported their ability to choose hours or days off, start and end times and shift lengths during 2011 and 2012. Their responses were charted against facility outcomes from Medicare.gov.

For each incremental improvement in schedule control, a facility showed a half increment decline in the prevalence of pressure ulcers, independent of factors like job satisfaction and turnover intentions.

“Providing work-time resources like schedule control might enhance the planning and delivery of strategies to prevent or cure pressure ulcers, and can also contribute to higher job satisfaction,” the researchers theorized, noting that more study would be needed to determine exact cause.