The Hidden Costs of Staffing Shortages in Healthcare Communities

A trio of extenuating circumstances in 2020-2021 have left skilled nursing centers and assisted living facilities battling for staff. Between the coronavirus pandemic, a general labor shortage, and an impending vaccine mandate for long-term care facilities, these circumstances have created the perfect storm for hiring managers.

Both skilled nursing centers and assisted living facilities are struggling to fill positions from RNs, LPNs and CNAs to housekeeping and dietary staff. While the direct cost of turnover per frontline worker is conservatively calculated at 25% of his or her annual compensation amount, the indirect cost is often overlooked. Why? Because these hidden costs are more difficult to measure, but the costs are considerable.

According to Leaderstat, the real cost of open positions fall into the following hidden areas:

Patient care

When staffing is too low, patients often don’t receive the proper level of attention they deserve. Low staffing impacts the quality and consistency of resident care, and can often lead to increased medical errors, patient accidents, premature dismissals, increased infections, poor documentation, neglect, or fatalities.

With proper patient/medical staff ratios, caregivers are able to divert and prevent errors, resulting in fewer patient mistakes. With enough staff, caregivers in skilled nursing centers can educate patients/residents on how to manage their illness or injury so they don’t return to the skilled nursing center worse than before.

With the proper staff in assisted living facilities, caregivers can advocate on their patient’s behalf to make sure the patient gets everything they need to improve and thrive, including help with insurance companies to get proper medical treatments.

Staff burnout

When medical staff and caregivers feel mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted on a regular basis due to long hours, pressure of making life/death decisions, and the strain of caring for patients with fatal outcomes—that’s burnout. When staffing numbers fall short, staff burnout surges.

As caregivers struggle with these complex factors, they may begin to feel disengaged or detached, which can lead to apathy, hopelessness, and depression. When you add understaffing to the mix, the "normal" stress associated with their job escalates and can easily lead to staff burnout.

Researchers found a correlation between higher rates of burnout syndrome and healthcare workers who leave the profession. This increased turnover puts even more stress on an already overworked environment.

Occupational Hazards

Healthcare workers are exposed to many hazards on the job, including infections, needle injuries, physical injuries, workplace allergens, and contagions. The only way to combat these hazards is by following good job safety and injury prevention practices. Using protective equipment, adhering to infection control guidelines, and lifting heavy objects correctly all help to reduce occupational hazards that come with the job.

Unfortunately, when skilled nursing centers and assisted living facilities are understaffed, healthcare workers in these centers must work even harder. As overworked staff becomes more and more fatigued and the pressure to work harder to keep up with patient demand increases, the likelihood of workplace injuries increases. Ongoing exhaustion can result in careless or reckless behavior, poor concentration and impaired decision making, which often leads to accidents.

Eliminate these hidden costs with temporary staff. GigWorx helps healthcare organizations fill open positions with highly qualified healthcare workers who are ready to step in to keep the organization moving forward.

Recent Articles

Empowering Healthcare Professionals: The Gigworx Healthcare Story

At GigWorx Healthcare, we understand the challenges that healthcare communities face when it comes...

Shout Out to Per Diem CNAs During National Nursing Assistants Week

Each year, starting on the Thursday of the second full week of June, it is the time of year set...

How to Spot Signs of Healthcare Burnout in Nursing Homes

Job burnout occurs across all industries. However, we most often hear about burnout in the...