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We’re Listening: Your Top Questions for Us

28 Sep 21


We're Listening

In recent months, we’ve had the chance to connect with many of you working within the long-term care industry.  Whether we’ve connected through virtual or in-person events, hearing from participants during our recent webinar or connecting virtually during a state association event, these interactions are extremely valuable for gaining understanding about meeting your needs.  A common theme is emerging from these interactions – we are hearing that you need your staff education and training to impact many of the operational and staffing challenges you are facing.

We will explore four areas impacted by staff education and training and provide current trends associated with bolstering education/training efforts in each of these areas.

  1. Rebuilding trust with residents, families, and community
  2. Improving resident care to increase post-pandemic census
  3. Staff recruitment and retention
  4. Infection control

Rebuilding trust with residents, families, and community 

How do long-term care organizations rebuild trust with residents, families, and the community?  This was the top question we received during Healthcare Academy’s recent CE webinar “Growing Your Post-COVID Occupancy – Perspectives from the Field”.  You can read the event recap here, but the experts that joined us for this session agreed transparency is key.  The majority of webinar participants, all long-term care providers, shared they are using technology to meet with residents and families. For them, video meetings are essential for virtual tours or meetings about resident care updates and are vital to rebuilding trust.  Many of those same webinar participants told us they are publicizing their infection control protocols by sharing those details on their websites, via newsletters, and through social media posts.  Others post video messages of their medical director sharing details about infection control practices.

Outside of virtual connections, another level of transparency is achieved when meaningful and compassionate communication occurs with residents, families, and staff.  This involves training staff on effective communication strategies to convey information with residents, family, and team members in a way that is helpful and compassionate.  “Partnerships between family and nursing staff in nursing homes are essential to address residents’ needs and wishes” (Hoek et al., 2021).  Ultimately, it helps families trust their loved ones are receiving the quality care they deserve. Healthcare Academy’s course catalog includes training opportunities on Person-Centered Communication, Communication Basics, Resident and Family Education, and Effective Communication for Leaders.

Improving resident care to increase post-pandemic census

It was emphasized in our August blog that providing a higher complex model of care is effective for improving the care for high acuity residents.  When facilities provide quality care for high acuity residents, it gives them a chance to develop partnerships with hospitals or other agencies while creating opportunity for a referral stream to boost facility census.  It is also a valuable way for facilities to “upskill” their direct care workers by improving their ability to recognize changes in residents, so problems are addressed before they become more expensive to treat (Feldman-Barbera, 2021).

Education and training are essential for preparing staff to deliver competent, high level of care.  HCA is noticing enrollment trends that customers are taking action to ensure their staff are gaining the knowledge necessary to provide these high levels of care.  For example, enrollments for HCA’s training category on Population Health Management have increased significantly in recent months.  This training category focuses on topics such as sepsis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s Disease, and many more.  Other enrollments are increasing for improving care competence on topics such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), pneumonia, and stroke.

Additionally, HCA offers a training category for Behavioral and Mental Health which helps staff acquire the knowledge necessary to address the diverse needs of older adults challenged by mental health concerns.

It is important to remember that offering a higher complex model of care does not mean your facility has to do it all!  Find your specialty and develop your staff to deliver high quality, person-centered care within that specialty.

Staff recruitment and retention

Workforce issues remain some of the most significant challenges for the long-term care industry.  While referral and retention bonuses are often touted as ways to get new employees in the door, facilities still need to implement strategies that will keep staff once they are hired.  Engagement and retention of direct care staff requires long-term care organizations to concentrate on developing leadership abilities such as effective communication, managing expectations, accountability, delegation, and mentorship (Tobin, 2021).  Staff retention impacts a facility’s quality ranking, so it is important to utilize tools available to strengthen the leadership in your facility.

HCA offers an entire course category on Professional Development which provides nursing leaders with opportunities to expand their knowledge about specific leadership qualities.  Jurij, Ismail, & Alavi, 2021 point out that poor management is a reason for low retention rates so it’s beneficial for nursing leaders to increase their knowledge about monitoring employees’ work abilities and increasing performance, building positive workplace cultures, understanding intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, and helping employees create a work/life balance.

Staff recruitment and retention also involves connecting training to competencies.  HCA offers an industry leading digital competency tool.  The checklists available with this tool are an efficient way to identify, assess, correct, and document a wide range of skills required for long-term care staff to demonstrate competency.  Remember, it is important to select competencies specific to your facility and populations served.  Competencies specific to your facility will give your staff the confidence they need to provide high quality, person-centered care.  For additional information on utilizing education and competencies, we encourage you to check out a previous blog post on Five Ways Education and Competencies Meet Long-Term Care Staff Challenges.

Infection control

Infection control remains a hot topic in the long-term care industry and challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate how facilities need to continually and systematically educate and train staff through evidence-based practices.

Both experts, from our recent webinar, agreed there is no such thing as too much staff education and training on infection control.  A strong staff education and training program helps you get survey ready, but also helps demonstrate to residents and families the importance of infection control practices in your facility.  Patty Klingel, PhD, LPN, CPHQ, CRM, CHC, Executive Director of compliance and clinical services of United Church Homes, Inc., went on to comment that Healthcare Academy’s eCompetencies® 100% digital competency tool has been very helpful in developing staff’s competency in infection control.

Other helpful tools for developing staff competency in infection control include the AHCA/NCAL Infection Control Certificate Program which was developed in partnership with Healthcare Academy.  This program combines focused infection control education modules with digital competencies. Participating facilities receive a marketing toolkit with things like a print certificate, press release template and a logo that helps them publicly demonstrate their commitment to infection control.

HCA also offers 20+ infection control courses which are designed by subject matter experts with extensive long-term care experience and are sure to prepare your staff in a way that will make your facility an infection control powerhouse.

Next steps for education and training

As you work with organizational leaders to develop next steps for strengthening education and training efforts within your facility, it is critical to consider the quality of education available to your employees.  HCA offers an extensive eLearning library which includes learning modules designed by experienced clinicians in the post-acute care field.  HCA is confident the quality of our learning modules will make your staff frontrunners in providing high acuity care which will increase facility alignment with hospitals because you’ll be recognized as a leader of quality, person-centered care.

Learn more about Healthcare Academy’s complete online education platform and the AHCA/NCAL Infection Control Certificate Program and AHCA RoP eCompetencies® for staff and competency skill development in the long-term care setting.  We’re ready to answer your questions about how these staff education and training  tools can impact many of the operational and staffing challenges you are facing.  Contact us here.


Feldman-Barbera, E. (2021, August 17). Staff recruitment, retention, upskilling and savings. [web log post]. Retrieved September 10, 2021 from https://www.mcknights.com/blogs/the-world-according-to-dr-el/staff-recruitment-retention-upskilling-and-savings/

Jurij, R., Ismail, I.R., & Alavi, K. (2021). Turnover intention among aged care workers and retention strategies: A scoping review. Retrieved September 9, 2021 from  http://conference.kuis.edu.my/icomm/8th/images/021-053.pdf

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