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Care homes: How to retain nurses

Posted by: Tracy Bolan

Recruiting nurses to work in care homes is a major challenge, you’ll probably all be aware of that. However, encouraging them to stay is possibly an even greater issue, particularly in the face of often better paying roles within the NHS, or in other parts of the health service. Fortunately, help is at hand and we’ve provided some tips for care homes on how to retain nurses.

On average, it costs around 1.5 times the salary of a departing employee to replace them once you’ve factored in the time and money it costs to find potential new hires, create a shortlist, carry out interviews and finally make an offer. For care home managers, who are already operating on a very tight budget, this makes all the difference and means that they have to put a large focus on retaining their key staff. Factor in that it can take up to 32 weeks for a new hire to reach optimum productivity and it can be a real challenge to replace departing staff. So what can you do?

How to retain nurses

The biggest single factor is the type of environment you’re creating. If your employees feel overly pressured and essentially unhappy then it’s likely they’ll be on the lookout for a new role. However, developing a supportive, welcoming and open working culture where your employees feel comfortable is a good approach to retain these professionals. This is almost entirely down to the leadership and if you can encourage your staff to speak up if they have issues and to feel like their voice carries weight, then they’ll naturally be more inclined to stay with you.

Offer revalidation support

It may not seem like a huge factor, but anyone who has worked as a nurse will understand the challenges of revalidating, in terms of both money and time. Offering revalidation support can create stronger bonds between employers and nurses and can remove a significant amount of stress from their lives, allowing them to conduct their jobs to the highest level. As we all know, nurses and other health professionals are now required to renew their professional registration every three years and providing some form of assistance can make a major difference.

Be agile

While flexible working may have been looked down on by some employers perhaps as recently as a decade ago, it’s now 2017 and most employees will want some form of flexible working to be factored into their employment contracts. It may not be a huge commitment on your behalf but allowing some workers to start at 9.30, rather than 9 – for example – could potentially mean one of your key staff members who may have children at school-age, can remain in their job, rather than looking for a new opportunity.

Progression and training

Nobody likes to stagnate and few professionals will want to remain at an employer that doesn’t offer them opportunities to develop. That means it’s crucial to outline a specific pathway that your employees can follow to progress their careers and may encourage them to stay with you for longer than you may have expected. Investing in external training days, for example, also shows that you’re making a commitment to them and it’s likely that this will be repaid.

What other methods do you think care homes can use to retain their nurses?

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