Three Top Tips on Retaining Staff in Nursing Homes

Recruitment and retention are among the biggest challenges the sector must overcome over the next decade. Many care providers face this issue, but few have mastered it.

The first step is often the easiest or the least, with the highest success rate. Many care and nursing homes turn to various approaches to draw in new recruits, not least through nursing home marketing, in the hopes of attracting the best talent. 

However, a more significant challenge is retention once a recruit joins the sector. The House of Commons Library estimates that turnover in the care sector stands at almost a third—undoubtedly one of the highest across any job in the country. As demand continues to outweigh domestic supply, these issues will likely worsen before they get better.

However, low retention is not a guarantee for every nursing home. The most successful ones have a management team that successfully retains their staff, with positive repercussions across the board. But how do they do it? Well, we outline three key tactics that nursing homes can apply to better retain staff. 

Build a Strong Culture

A robust and positive workplace culture is vital for retaining staff. This involves fostering community and teamwork, where each employee feels part of a larger mission. Regular team-building activities, open communication channels, and a mutual respect and support culture can create a more enjoyable and productive work environment. Recognising and celebrating achievements, big or small, helps build a sense of belonging and loyalty among staff. There are a multitude of campaign initiatives that enable care groups to showcase their commitment and gratitude to staff. You could join that to signal your commitment to your staff, not least the recent Skills for Care #KeepTheRightPeople campaign. 

A supportive and rewarding culture should also include a commitment to employee wellbeing. All too often, care workers suffer from burnout and poor mental health, which proves detrimental to careers and feeds a cycle of high attrition in the sector. It is often cited as one of the most common reasons for leaving the workforce. Taking a positive and encouraging approach to employee wellbeing enhances job satisfaction and encourages staff to invest in their roles for the long term.

Clear Progression

Clear career progression opportunities are another critical factor in retaining nursing home staff. Employees must see a future within the organisation, with pathways for advancement and professional development. Providing access to ongoing training, workshops, and educational programs allows staff to enhance their skills and knowledge and trust in your care group to provide the further education opportunities they might seek. 

We know from surveys that failing to establish a system of progression can contribute significantly to high attrition rates – one poll found that lack of opportunities to progress was blamed by one in five former care workers as the reason they left the profession.  Those who left the pro Establishing mentorship programs, where experienced staff guide and support newer employees, can also promote career growth. By clearly outlining potential career paths and offering the resources to achieve them, nursing homes can motivate staff to stay and grow within the organisation.

Fair Pay

Pay continues to be a key issue in the sector. Competitive and fair compensation is a fundamental aspect of staff retention. Ensuring that salaries align with industry standards and reflect the demanding nature of the work is crucial. Some outside the sector anticipate significant benefits from going above and beyond simply the national minimum – the Liberal Democrats, for example, have pledged to compensate social care workers at £2 above the minimum wage, which they believe will make a “big difference” to patients and their families across the country.

Supplementary offerings that accompany fair pay, such as particular benefits schemes, can also increase employee satisfaction and retention. Additionally, implementing performance-based incentives and bonuses can motivate staff and reward their hard work. When employees feel fairly compensated for their efforts, they are more likely to remain loyal to the organisation, reducing turnover and maintaining a stable workforce.

By focusing on these critical areas, at least for a start, nursing homes can create an environment that attracts and retains high-quality staff. Prioritising wellbeing, fostering a strong culture, providing clear progression opportunities, and ensuring fair pay are essential strategies for a more committed and satisfied workforce. In turn, this stability benefits the staff and residents, resulting in higher standards of care and a more positive reputation on a local and national stage for the nursing home.

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