By Elizabeth George

Inspiring language compelling jobseekers to “Find your calling”, “Make a difference”, “Do rewarding and fulfilling work” fills the career pages of many senior living websites.

The senior living industry has always had an inspirational story to tell recruits around the opportunity it provides to do meaningful work. And no doubt, deriving meaning from one’s vocation is important to most of us. Gallup, a pioneer in employee engagement, counts mission and purpose among the most important contributors to engagement.

Stubbornly high staff turnover, however, indicates that rewarding work alone is not enough to retain talent. It’s no secret this business is hard work. It often requires long hours and involves work that is physically, not to mention emotionally, demanding.  

Joys and Pain Points

I recently read a few client case studies from Cornell Communications (a Senior Living Foresight partner), a leading provider of emergency call systems technology to senior living and healthcare providers — and I learned that Cornell’s clients were having success reducing the turnover of their care staff.  

To find out more, I reached out to Jessica Pearson, a former professional caregiver who is now Chief Operating Officer at Cornell Communications. 

Jessica remembers clearly what motivated her to become a caregiver and what she enjoyed most about the job. As she shared, “For me personally, it was actually getting to know the older generation and not only providing the care for them but also talking with them and learning about their lives. I remember, in particular, a woman who was with us for rehab. Even in her late eighties, she was traveling and doing bus trips, just living her life to the fullest. I thought then that I wanted to be just like her.”

Jessica can also relate to the pain points caregivers experience. Being a caregiver, she says, “is hard work. I remember being constantly on the run, trying to answer all of the calls and wanting to provide the best care.” Challenges often arise when caregivers, who have a full workload each day, must often stop to respond quickly to unexpected emergency calls that come throughout the day.

Another pain point can be cumbersome tools. Care staff might carry as many as three devices: pagers to take nurse calls, walkie talkies to communicate with their co-workers and iPads for accessing medical records.

Lacking an effective way to communicate with co-workers can put care staff in a difficult situation. When caregivers need extra assistance for a two-person lift, for instance, they often have to leave the resident’s side and shout down the hall to get help.

Ease Frustration and Reduce Job Complexity

Contemporary call systems like Cornell’s inform product, for example, can help ease complexity in a couple ways with: 

    • One device that does everything — combining all the functionality for care staff to interact with residents and co-workers easily during an emergency
    • Texting capabilities to enhance team communications — enabling staff to stay with a resident while alerting other care staff for help and to communicate information to co-workers easily throughout the day or with others coming on the following shift

Leadership also benefits from the data that helps them manage their care team. Cornell’s clients cite reduced staff turnover and better staff management as being among the primary reasons they purchase a system from Cornell. Clients enjoy having access to data that allows them to:

    • Monitor caregiver performance and recognize and reward the highest performers
    • Provide objective information to have constructive dialogues with underperformers
    • Create engaging and fun contests and incentives to improve response times and motivate high performance

Tools like Cornell’s emergency call systems help managers lead more effectively and enable caregivers to get back to the rewarding work that drew them to the profession in the first place.

For more information on Cornell emergency call systems, check out their website.