The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed care delivery. Due to technological innovations, many services have shifted away from traditional health facilities to home-based care. Telehealth advancements and the demand for care outside of health facilities extended the reach of virtual care options. To meet the latest market demands and provide optimized care, the industry must adapt to new technologies, embrace their efficiencies, and focus on retaining competent staff. 

In 2030, according to the United States Census Bureau, adults 65 and older will make up 21% of the U.S. population, meaning more people will require remote care as they age from the comfort of their homes for as long as possible. A McKinsey & Company survey shows that up to $265 billion worth of care services could shift from traditional healthcare facilities to homes by 2025.

To meet this heightened demand, jobs in home healthcare are expected to grow by 17%. With an influx of patients needing home or specialized healthcare, there is a need for more healthcare professionals and technologies to fill these gaps. However, the average annual turnover rate within home health is 21% and ranges from 40% to 60% for nursing home staff

With high turnover rates, labor shortages, and an increase in more severe conditions, delivering care to those within the post-acute setting will become difficult if organizations do not take the proper steps to strengthen their workforce and improve care.

Here are five steps post-acute care facilities should take to address these ongoing challenges:

1. Attract the right candidates with clear and thorough job descriptions. 

Attracting and retaining talent starts with a comprehensive and honest job posting. Job descriptions should clearly outline job responsibilities and duties to ensure candidates fully understand day-to-day expectations. 

When a job description is unclear, unfit candidates may slow down the application process while the job may not match what new employees envision, leading to rapid turnover or burnout. In addition, employers can use job descriptions to talk about an organization’s culture, mission, and other perks, highlighting offerings additional to pay. 

In a competitive job market, salary and benefits are important factors for candidates when considering a new career opportunity. In fact, 38% of nurses change work settings for better pay and 17% change for better benefits. Highlighting a role’s salary and benefits can help attract and keep quality employees.

2. Identify best-fit candidates based on their current skill sets and experience.

While required qualifications and skills should be listed in job postings to ensure applicants have the necessary experience and training for the job, additional assessments may be required to measure a candidate’s current skill level. Using advanced skills-based job posting boards that match candidates to relevant roles based on requirements and qualifications can help fill positions faster and avoid any confusion from either the employer or the applicant. 

Additionally, offering personnel assessments to determine an applicant’s existing skill set and identify areas of improvement ensures that a candidate is the best fit for the role. Personnel assessments, including knowledge, behavioral and situational assessments, can supplement an in-person or virtual interview to efficiently and cost-effectively fill positions.

3. Deliver quality care with the help of competitive training and growth opportunities.

Training is essential in all industries, but especially in healthcare, which is ever-changing and advancing. Whether it be personalized onboarding, compliance training or continuing education, specialized clinical education is vital to keep employees working at the top of their licensure and give them opportunities to advance within their careers. 

In a climate in which 24% of nurses change jobs in search of career advancement or training opportunities, it is vital that post-acute care facilities support individuals’ professional growth to strengthen their overall organization. Job satisfaction increases when employees are given career advancement opportunities that challenge them, recognizing and rewarding hard work without causing burnout.

4. Meet patients’ evolving needs by embracing emerging technologies.

As telehealth and home care become increasingly popular, organizations must embrace the use of technology to deliver the best possible care to patients. A 2021 report from the U.S. Department and Human Services found that Medicare visits conducted through telehealth in 2020 increased 63-fold, from about 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million. Higher-acuity patients need more services to support their needs at home or at skilled nursing facilities, which means post-acute care professionals need proper training to deliver care. 

New technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality can help prepare healthcare professionals for specialized demands. As more patients receive care at home and at specialized care facilities, post-acute teams and other providers must streamline collaboration across the care continuum using tools such as telemedicine, specialized EHRs or connected medical devices.

5. Maintain employee satisfaction and well-being with continued appreciation and wellness resources.

Promote wellness within your organization. Working in the post-acute care space can be incredibly stressful and, at times, overwhelming, with 68.6% of nurses reporting a stressful work environment as the reason for leaving their jobs. 

To avoid employee burnout, offer wellness courses that provide employees with strategies to improve their own health and wellness, including stress management and emotional intelligence tactics. Investing in healthy snacks, team-building activities and other resources to increase employee morale are low-cost investments that can create a pleasant work environment, increasing employee satisfaction and retention.

With the post-acute care space accounting for over $2.7 trillion in spending and almost 15% of total Medicare spending, retaining staff and skilling up to meet shifting demands are crucial moves. As the industry expands, these roles need to be prepared to meet evolving care needs. Whether implementing tactics to attract and retain employees or improving the quality of care, post-acute care facilities must embrace change to grow and better serve patients.

Vince Baiera, BSN, is Partner, Post-Acute Care at Relias, a trusted partner to more than 11,000 healthcare organizations and 4.5 million caregivers. Vince is a former ICU and travel nurse, published author, and founder and president of step2health.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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