4 Keys to a Happier Home Health Nurse
Home health is booming. As the fastest growing industry in the U.S., home health agencies are facing associated growing pains. Among these challenges are hiring and retaining qualified home health nurses. There’s already a shortage of nurses, so competition for these individuals is high among all specialties. While recruiting, hiring and training nurses are costly factors, turnover creates an even greater economic burden.
Nurse retention is a critical factor for keeping agencies in the business of delivering high quality care to patients, while enabling them to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
So how do you retain home health nurses? In one word, job satisfaction.
If you want to keep your home health nurses on board, keep them happy. How do you keep them happy? Understand what’s important to them and find ways to provide those things. One study found the most satisfying factors of the home health nurse’s job include autonomy and independence, close nurse-client relationships, work hours, flexibility in scheduling hours, and satisfaction with peers and supervisors.
Let’s look at 4 key ways your agency can improve job satisfaction for your home health nurses.
Foster Independence and Autonomy
Ask just about any home health nurse why she got into the field, and you’ll likely hear about the independence and autonomy of the job. In general, the home health nurse makes her own schedule. The role is inherently independent as nurses provide one-on-one care in their patients’ homes.
Home health nurses strive to provide quality, safe care in the varied and unique settings of each home they visit. Her role is critical as the eyes and ears of the patient, even more than in other settings, as she may be the only health professional visiting the patient on a regular basis.
It has been found that both autonomy and control over nursing practice (CONP) are associated with job satisfaction and nurse retention. Lack of autonomy and CONP result in increased stress, both personal and professional. In work environments where nurses report higher levels of autonomy, there are lower turnover rates, less nurse burnout, increased performance and improved patient outcomes and safety.
Since home health nurses work relatively isolated in the field, an electronic communication tool that supports and enhances a nurse’s ability to make clinical decisions appropriately and efficiently within the scope of their practice is a critical component of fostering independence.
The QliqSoft HIPAA compliant secure texting app allows nurses to work more independently in the field by improving communications and access to supervisors and providers.
Nurses value collaboration when providing patient care. While it’s true that home care nurses work independently, they also serve as the eyes and ears of the entire care team. Not only is collaboration between nurses and physicians critical for optimizing patient care, it is part of creating a positive work environment in home health.
Home health nurses are responsible for coordinating care among numerous healthcare and community services. Hindrances to collaboration can lead to frustration, contribute to job-related stress, and decrease job satisfaction.
You can go a long way to keeping your home health nurses happy and productive by giving them tools to facilitate communication and collaboration. CareChannels by QliqSoft is one such tool that provides a secure and easy-to-use patient-centric communications and collaboration platform for the entire care team.
Promote a Team Culture
Satisfaction with peers and supervisors is a key element of job satisfaction for the home health nurse. A study that looked at their job satisfaction found they are “less satisfied with their relationship to administration and their ability to effect changes in the system.”
A team culture enhances relationships with peers and supervisors. A positive, team-oriented work environment includes strong and visible nursing leadership as well as organizational and peer support. This translates to higher levels of nurse engagement and improved delivery of care.
Any employee who feels part of the work team also feels valued and appreciated. Providing opportunities for shared decision-making, sharing of challenges and solutions, and recognition of outstanding performance also decreases job stress and helps create a culture of listening, supporting, and advocating for patients families and caregivers.
Due to the structure of most home health practices, it can be a challenge to create a team environment. While in-office meetings are sometimes necessary, they may be viewed as taking time away from patient care in the field, and may not happen frequently enough to maintain an inclusive team culture.
An easy and effective way to promote a team culture is through the use of a secure communication system that offers team-building capabilities such as Group Messaging, OnCall Scheduling, and Broadcast Messaging. These features can all be found in the Qliq Secure Texting app for mobile phones, tablets, and desktops.
Improve Nursing Workflows
Any nurse in any field will tell you good organizational workflow is essential to providing effective and efficient care. Improving workflow involves a learning curve and depends on the technologies provided by a healthcare facility or agency.
Home healthcare presents unique challenges to such workflows. In addition to visiting patients, home health nurses track mileage, record time spent in patient homes, and complete extensive documentation. They encounter unpredictable home environments, and sometimes, unsafe situations, both within homes and in surrounding neighborhoods. They are often required to devise creative solutions to nursing problems in the field.
Due to the independent and variable nature of home health care, it takes about a year to 18 months to truly grasp all the aspects of home healthcare practice – even for experienced acute care nurses. While the job is very flexible, many nurses struggle to complete all their visits and documentation in an 8-hour shift. In fact, home health nurses work more hours than nurses in just about any other setting. These factors negatively affect work-life balance and increase the risk for burnout.
The BYOD (bring your own device) trend in healthcare is one way many facilities and agencies are considering or adopting to improve patient care and decrease costs. While BYOD increases productivity and job performance for nurses, it has the added benefits of offering more control over the computing environment as well as an enhanced sense of work-life balance.
Using a device-based mHealth platform that provides tools to make nurses’ jobs easier is one key to improving nursing workflows. Of course, in today’s healthcare environment, the security of PHI is a huge consideration with the implementation of BYOD.
The Bottom Line
A happy nurse is a nurse who wants to stay put. Create a work environment conducive to happier nurses with four simple strategies:
- Foster independence and autonomy
- Facilitate collaboration
- Promote a team culture
- Improve nursing workflows
Not only will you decrease the stress and burnout that results in turnover, you will improve patient care and outcomes.
QliqSoft can help nurses attain job satisfaction and be more productive. See how the QliqSoft application enhances workflows for nurses with features such as Snap and Sign, HIPAA Camera Roll, and Qliq Assisted Calls, while providing PHI privacy and security. Schedule your free demo today!