It should come as no surprise that 94% of skilled nursing facilities surveyed by the American Health Care Association reported staffing shortages, with 73% reporting that the situation is worse than it was in 2020. Despite their best efforts, facilities are unable to fill key positions, forcing many healthcare professionals to cross-train or, even worse, do jobs they are not trained or licensed to do.
COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation, prompting the CDC to issue recommendations, such as canceling elective procedures. A chief executive for a Washington state long-term care facility commented that he has been in the industry for 40 years and has never seen it this bad. Many operators have turned to staffing agencies to fill the gaps. This stop-gap solution impacts patient and staff satisfaction, has risk-management implications, increases the workload for nurses, and decreases overall efficiency.
Staffing problems are not unique to skilled nursing facilities. Restaurants and small businesses are also struggling to stay open. Many of them have changed their business models or adopted technology solutions to fill their labor gaps. To survive in today’s labor market, they must adapt.
Skilled nursing facilities must also embrace technology solutions that can help them streamline their operational processes, maintain high-quality resident care, lower risk and focus on the competency of their clinical team. At the same time, skilled nursing facilities must be conscious of their budget. Their goal is to employ as few registered nurses as possible while still providing the best possible care.
SAIVA AI software can help effectively use the valuable time and abilities of the nursing staff by maximizing their efficiency while maintaining the highest quality care. They can achieve this goal by ensuring every nurse can work at the top level of their license.
The Staffing Shortage Has Many Negative Consequences
Inadequate nursing staffing can result in patient dissatisfaction, increased readmissions, and an increased number of patient adverse events. More adverse events mean higher risks for the skilled nursing facility, which ultimately affects the bottom line. For example, a 2002 study found that every additional patient cared for by a nurse increased the risk of death within 30 days of admission by 7%.
Better staffing can reduce the risk of rehospitalizations, which cost an average of $10,352 per hospitalization; patient falls, which cost an average $17,500 per hospitalization; pressure ulcers, which cost an average of $37,800 per stay and infections. It can also reduce the occurrence of back injuries and exposure to blood-borne pathogens, both of which harried employees are more susceptible to.
While technology such as SAIVA AI cannot replace nursing staff, it can optimize their time by focusing their attention on the highest risk residents and giving them the tools to make plans proactively with enhanced documentation that captures the need for notifications and focuses on acute changes.
Hiring trained and credentialed staff to work in skilled nursing facilities has always been challenging. The reasons for these hiring challenges include:
- Lower wages and fewer benefits
- Higher workloads
- Increased safety concerns
- A lack of higher-paying opportunities
- Staff burnout
- Low retention rates for current staff
- Public perception of work in skilled nursing facilities
COVID-19 has exacerbated these problems. Some facilities are using technology and social media to increase their hiring pool. However, budget constraints and a small available labor pool make this an unworkable solution to their staffing crisis.
Many centers are turning to agencies or increasing the workload for the current staff to deal with the staffing crisis. Unfortunately, this makes it more difficult to retain current staff. Surveys indicate that CNA turnover is between 49% and 143%. While unrealistic workloads and low pay are frequently cited as reasons for leaving, a lack of supervision because of shortages of registered nurses increased staff frustration and job dissatisfaction.
Facilities that use data from the daily SAIVA AI report can assess residents faster and convey this information to physicians and families more accurately and effectively. As a result, they spend less time reviewing charts and assimilating data and more time at the bedside.
When nurses can direct their attention to the highest acuity patients in the facility and make assessments with all the necessary clinical information at their fingertips, they can develop a comprehensive plan that allows each staff member to deliver the care they are trained and licensed to deliver. Overall, clinicians who use SAIVA AI’s focused assessment information spend more time at the bedside providing quality care to their patients.
As expected, hiring challenges have put an increased burden on the nursing staff. For example, one study found that nurse staff hours per resident day increased from 3.4 hours per resident day in January 2020 to 3.5 hours in September, translating to an increase of about 5.7 minutes per resident day.
While employees in many industries are being pushed to do more with less money, most would argue that the potential harm due to inadequate staffing is greatest in the healthcare industry. As a positive outcome of the pandemic, there has been rapid adoption of technology to mitigate the staffing crisis secondary to COVID-19. For example, no one would likely have predicted the rapid adoption of telemedicine that we have seen since 2020.
In many cases, adopting new technology slows down staff and worsens staffing crises before improvements can be seen. SAIVA AI recognizes this and provides a daily email report to the charge nurse or their designee as a push report. There is no need for an additional software system or login.
Patient and Family Satisfaction
When skilled nursing facilities have inadequate staffing ratios or high turnover rates, the welfare of residents is put at risk. Overwhelmed nurses can easily overlook important trends or data points in their resident’s medical records. Being overwhelmed also makes it difficult for them to fully engage with the residents, negatively impacting patient and family satisfaction levels. As the healthcare industry continues to move towards patient-centered care, high patient satisfaction ratings become even more important.
Technology solutions, such as SAIVA AI, allow nurses to care for their residents efficiently. As a result, focused care decreases rehospitalization rates and increases patient and family satisfaction ratings.
SAIVA AI: Technology to Ease The Staffing Crisis in SNF
The staffing crisis in skilled nursing facilities has worsened over time, driven by social, economic, and demographic factors. Many industries have faced similar staffing shortages and have turned to technology solutions to fill the void. SAIVA AI is a solution designed to fully use the time and talents of nurses in skilled nursing facilities by focusing their attention on their highest risk residents and providing them with the tools to make comprehensive assessments and communicate them to physicians and families. Accessing and acting on this valuable information ultimately improves patient and family satisfaction and manages facility risk.