In 2020 the world faced one of the biggest health risks to humankind in over a century. At the time of writing the Covid-19 pandemic continues to infect hundreds of thousands of people every day. This pandemic has highlighted how fragile the health care is in some countries and how underfinance it is.
Even without such a huge challenge to health staff there are already many challenges facing staff management and health care workers on a daily basis. Before the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 many health workers suffered from a variety of problems including stress & anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse. With the current problems workers are facing burnouot, mental health problems and even suicide.
Staff management & leaders
Because of the high demand during the pandemic, workers are put under stress for long periods of time and this can cause shortages as staff become sick or stay at home for other reasons. Leaders need to be able to listen, analyse & understand and respond to all the problems and concerns facing health workers.
Staff management need to recognise the concerns that occur regularly amongst their health care workers. Management can then make the correct steps towards addressing these concerns. They must come up with a mental health plan to address issues with workers and there are many tools online that can help to work with their team.
Rising costs in healthcare
Another problem area that staff management are facing is the rising costs of healthcare. Research shows that health care cost rises are normally above the rates of inflation. As people live longer healthcare concerns rise as do the costs involved. Management and leaders need to find ways to raise funds to fight against the rising costs. This means researching ways to find grants, contributions and other funding to help conduct research, set up new programs and implement new processes to keep up to speed with change.
Healthcare workers are on the frontline and before Covid they were already struggling with many problems as mentioned above. In these trying times the healthcare worker has many reasons to feel stress at work and at home. Common causes of stress in a healthcare environment include:
- Not having PPE (personal protective equipment) or proper safeguards in place.
- Having to make life and death decisions
- Fear of being infected
- Mental exhaustion and burnout
- Witnessing human suffering.
- Worry of infecting family and loved ones
These are just some of the problems that can cause huge stress and anxiety to workers. Long hours and mental exhaustion can lead to burnout. Leaders will need to offer support where they can and monitor working hours as much as they can. A timecard calculator can help to monitor if someone is working far too many hours and if someone else can be deployed to another area.
Staff retention and turnover
Staff retention in healthcare is incredibly low. Staff turnover is the highest in any industry except hospitality and can be attributed to many of the reasons listed above. These days young doctors leave their positions at twice the rate of older doctors. Burnout is again a major factor with high work loads and demands causing physicians and staff to quit. Long shifts, difficult patients and tough decisions lead to a high level of stress that not everyone can deal with.
Leaders can address these problems with their teams and listen to all the concerns and address them but ultimately there will always be a high turnover due to the nature of the work and sometimes the salary and compensation too. Staff management can use high quality talent recruitment services to help find the right replacements quickly. This can speed up the vetting and selection process and keep the team running smoothly.
Home healthcare workers
healthcare workers in homes or workers who travel between patients have been facing unprecedented problems too. Covid-19 has added to all the normal problems faced by these workers. With the pandemic came a far higher level of stress than before. Due to the vulnerable nature of many of the patients, there were record numbers of deaths recorded. All of this of course takes a toll on the mental health of the worker.
To exacerbate the problem, personal protective equipment wasn’t always available and there are many reports of workers having to buy their own equipment. Fear of being infected or carrying the virus home and infecting their own families caused many workers endless anxiety.
Tools and software to help
There are many apps and software solutions out there that can help caregivers, healthcare workers and leaders in their daily lives. Some help with tracking time, others can assist in HR matters. ESS (Employee Self-Service) portals allow employees to take care of many HR, IT and administrative needs on their own. This allows the employee to access employee handbooks, update personal information, book holidays and more. This reduces administrative costs, makes it easier for the employee to complete certain tasks without human interaction and reduces paper.
For caregivers and home health workers there are time tracking apps that help to record visits accurately. A good app will work across all smartphones and allow the caregiver to clock in and out even without access to the internet.
Caregiver managers can also use apps to help with their daily schedules. Caregiver management software helps non-medical staff with record keeping, communication between agencies, scheduling, billing, training, healthcare compliance and helps with payroll management.
Staff management have many platforms available to them to help. For example they can use employee scheduling software to organise shifts. This lets the manager open shifts for staff to apply for or allocate them to specific staff. Using drag and drop the manager can move, modify and delete shifts with ease. Removing the need for messy paperwork and speeding up the process.
Challenges to the healthcare industry and its workers & staff will continue. Costs will increase and staff retention will remain a problem but with the use of tools, software and good leaders these problems can be reduced. Recognising staff concerns, listening and having good mental health plans in place will help to keep workers safer and happier.