The way out of staff shortages: successful strategies for the healthcare and social economy

You don't have a shortage of skilled workers at your facility, why?

Kersten Höft: I can't answer that question in such a general way. I am convinced that many small factors influence this phenomenon at our facility. One important aspect is certainly a high level of satisfaction among employees, for which we were also awarded the "Attractive Employer" seal as a result of an employee satisfaction survey. I see several reasons for this satisfaction. Among other things, the highest possible transparency and commitment in my area of responsibility, as well as a good professional culture of dispute and error in our small facility and at Stephanus. We try to accompany and care for the people who place their trust in us in the best possible way and with high quality standards. The quality standards at Stephanus support us in this. There is a management team in the facility that works in a clearly structured and coordinated manner.
Living Christian values is a matter of course for us: certainly also a reason for employees to come and stay with us. The accessibility from the living area to the facility management is uncomplicated and on shortest ways. This means that problems can be identified and dealt with quickly. We work on strong care teams that are there for each other. That is why we do not need leased staff.

Your employees work a little less, but are more motivated and therefore more efficient? Is that so?

Kersten Höft: As a trained geriatric nurse, I know the stresses and strains that come with this beautiful and responsible job. That's why I'm convinced that part-time contracts allow for much-needed time off and recovery periods. This concept only works if colleagues really only have to work these hours and can rely on them. If it is nevertheless necessary to build up hours, our colleagues can be sure that these built-up hours will be compensated for as free time in full days in the following month. This increases the work-life balance and readiness for duty and prevents overwork. This frees up our colleagues to focus on other projects and move our facility forward.

On balance, don't you need more staff?

Kersten Höft: With this concept, we automatically have more "heads" to be able to implement the job plan. Since our high level of commitment and good quality of care is known in the region, we have enough applicants for the positions to be filled. In addition, Stephanus Stiftung pays according to the AVR DWBO tariff, and even part-time employees have a good income compared to the industry average and an attractive additional pension plan.

Is this unique to your facility or could you approach it that way anywhere?

Kersten Höft: I can only speak for my institution. I don't think any concept can be generalized. Our "Haus am See" has found a way to avoid staff shortages through high employee satisfaction. For the benefit of the employees and their families as well as the senior citizens in need of care who have been entrusted to us. Our goal should be to bring the countless nursing staff who have left the company back into the elderly care sector with attractive supply and care concepts. There can be no "business as usual".

What would have to change in general to address the shortage of skilled workers?

Kersten Höft: We must continue to shape everyday working life in such a way that we can achieve our nursing ideals. Nurses want to care for people, not process them. They must not spend more time at the computer for documentation than at the bedside of the people they care for. We must maintain commitment to contractually agreed conditions and outline a clear path if we have to deviate from the agreement. Building, accompanying and promoting good teams - this requires trust and the full attention of a management team. Employees must once again be proud to work as nurses! Digitalization in nursing will play an increasingly important role. Many young people will be more enthusiastic about working in nursing if the nursing processes are more modern, more innovative and digitization noticeably reduces the workload. We at "Stephanus Wohnen und Pflege" are very active in this area. Our facility is also currently testing a video consultation from MediDoc. There are a lot of great ideas and developments. However, a large number of products for nursing care are not yet fully developed. We will continue to promote this important topic with innovative partners.

The focus is on people

Yes, there is an acute shortage of personnel in the healthcare and social economy, which is being exacerbated by demographic change and the growing demand for nursing and care services. To meet this challenge, targeted measures are needed to attract and retain qualified professionals.
One promising strategy is to improve the image of the industry. Here, targeted marketing and communication measures, as well as the promotion of training and continuing education, can help to make the industry more attractive to potential employees. A human-centered, contemporary and innovative design of care processes and the noticeable relief provided by digitization can help to make young people in particular more enthusiastic about working in care.
Last but not least, optimized working conditions and working hours, appropriate remuneration, and targeted personnel development can help retain skilled workers and expand their skills and knowledge. In this area, DUCAH will come to new conclusions in the foreseeable future, especially in its "better-living quarters".