Pilot program for nursing home supervisors improves facility culture, staff and resident satisfaction

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Efforts to improve frontline supervision can improve the quality of entry-level jobs in long-term care and lead to higher retention of certified nursing assistants and better patient care, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions issued a case study of five nursing homes in conjunction with the Massachusetts Senior Care Association and SkillWorks.

The yearlong pilot trained supervisors in interpersonal communication and conflict management methods, and researchers reported an improvement in workplace culture. Specifically, the study found comprehensive training can reduced disciplinary actions and improve workers' ability to communicate with coworkers and patients to solve complex problems.

Staff satisfaction and engagement rose, and one study site quickly expanded the training program to all of its supervisors.

“When staff feel supported, quality of care increases,” said Tara Gregorio, the association's president. “Partnering with the National Fund and SkillWorks for this pilot program, allowed us to provide some funding and expertise to create more positive workplace environments, which in turn, can help reduce turnover and increase job satisfaction. It speaks to the need to invest in myriad strategies that improve jobs for our dedicated frontline staff.”

Massachusetts is one of several states facing historically low unemployment and a “severe” direct care staffing crisis. Supervisory coaching is one way facilities can attract and retain entry-level employees, the report explained.

“The long-term care industry has been facing a staffing crisis for years and the demand will only increase as Americans continue to live longer,” said Kelly Aiken, Vice President for the National Fund of Workforce Solutions. “Focusing on job quality will help America be more competitive and adapt to changing economic and business realities.”