Hiring for Service-ExcellenceThis is a guest blog by Steve Moran of Senior Housing ForumIn the early 80’s shortly after graduating from college, Steve stumbled into the senior housing industry. Later, he started operating and later developing a number of small 15-bed buildings. For the next 20 or so years Steve worked in and around the senior housing developing and operating CCRC’s and freestanding single level of care communities. He took a 10-year detour into high tech but found that senior housing was his first love. Steve is currently an account manager for Vigil Health Solutions, providing the finest emergency call systems for independent living, assisted living, skilled living and dementia units. 

Last month I wrote an article that asked the question: Does HR have a Real Impact on Resident Care? That article was based on the results of the HR Influence survey conducted by HealthcareSource and Planetree. The goal of this survey was to determine what kind of role HR plays in providing person-centered care and a positive resident experience. Around 200 long-term care and senior housing professionals responded- 49% of survey respondents were HR professionals, 35% were business administrators, 9% were clinical and 7% were in employee education. The survey included this question:

At your healthcare organization, HR has a strategic initiative related to hiring healthcare employees who will positively impact patient or resident satisfaction.

Respondents were then asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with this statement. Here are the results:

hr strategic

The Good News
83% of long-term care respondents strongly agreed or agreed that their organization’s HR team has a strategic initiative in place related to hiring healthcare employees who will positively impact patient or resident satisfaction. This is great news for our industry because there is clear evidence that employee satisfaction and resident satisfaction are tightly coupled. What this suggests is a growing appreciation in long-term care and senior living organizations that at its heart, person-centered care is really employee centered care.

The Old Way
It is unfortunate, perhaps even disgraceful, that for a long time, line team members in long-term care and senior living communities were not seen as highly valued team members, almost to the point of seeing them as disposable. It was just accepted by the industry that high rates of turnover were the industry norm and that nothing could be done or it was too costly to fix, because it was assumed that the only possible solution was higher wages.  

A Better Way
While it takes a great professional staff to operate a successful long-term care and senior living community, ultimately resident satisfaction is primarily tied to the quality of the relationships between line staff and residents. In a very real sense, the very best relationships contain an element of genuine friendship. This means residents know something about their caregivers, their food servers, and their housekeepers and of course caregivers need to be friends with those they care and with the resident’s families. How do you make this happen?

1. Get to know and like your line staff- This means getting to know them, knowing about their families, the challenges and their wins. Do little things to say you care: Provide meals; celebrate birthdays; say thanks.

2. Include caregivers in care planning and management- While line staff members may not have great medical backgrounds they have something more valuable. They know the resident better than any licensed team member because they spend the most time with the resident. They are the best early warning system a community has. They are the ones most likely to catch problematic behavior changes early. Give them a voice, and they will be more diligent.

3. Ask them for feedback- Creating a culture where line staff can brainstorm with supervisors and managers about how to do a better job and  how to make more money or save money will yield amazing results.

4. Hire Smart- How a candidate looks on paper doesn’t tell you how they’ll behave on the job. Use hiring tools such as behavioral assessments to identify a candidate’s inherent behavioral competencies such as compassion, customer-focus and willingness to learn to ensure they will fit in with your organization’s culture and work well with residents. Tools like this are tremendously important because no matter how great your culture and your systems are, if you do not hire candidates who have the right personality and attributes you could end up undermining that culture you have worked so hard to cultivate.

How a candidate looks on paper doesn’t tell you how they’ll behave on the job. Click here to learn how HealthcareSource Staff Assessment clients have made predictive hiring decisions and found employees who compassionately care for their residents?  

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.