Ellen Kossek

Q: Based on your research, what are some of the challenges with how facilities apply worker scheduling?

A:The culture of nursing homes is we care for families or elders, and sometimes employees get left out inadvertently. We’ve found that schedule patching is a recurring systemic phenomenon. One big change is the work-life needs of employees — it’s. ‘My kid is sick,’ or, ‘My car broke down.’ 

Q: Why is the Work-Life Needs model, which balances the needs of workers with patient coverage, most successful? 

A:The key actors worked more on the ground and improvised changes rather than have these bureaucratic rules. The best nursing homes say we know our employees have work-life needs. They improvise coverage; the scheduler helps the person find a back-up. They try to problem solve in a win-win or collaborative manner, rather than saying, “Your car broke down, we are writing you up.” That caring culture can carry over to problem-solving for patients. 

Q: Can you explain how this helps pressure ulcer reduction?

A:I stress that this is a preliminary link. But if you are forced to work, how are patients going to be moved or have time to have the skin kept clean? It comes back to these social and cultural themes.