Providers may want to consider hiring more staff members with a background in social services. A study has linked the specialists to improved behavioral symptoms in nursing home residents. 

Skilled nursing facilities that had more qualified social workers also reported “marginally significant” improvements in residents’ who often rejected care or wandered when compared to facilities who enlist paraprofessionals. 

And the workers helped the facilities reduce the use of antipsychotic medications, which has been a recent priority for federal officials.

“Although the focus of most research and effects on improving patient outcomes in SNFs has focused on nursing staff, our results underscore the importance of staffing in social services,” study authors wrote. 

“It may be time for SNFs to revisit efforts to improve staffing in social services,” they added. 

Researchers used data from more than 1 million Medicare fee-for-service patients who received post-acute care following a hospitalization between 2011 and 2015. 

Full findings were published in the March edition of the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care.