Strategies to Improve Aging Services Worker Well-Being

February 5, 2024 | Aging Services Risk Management

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​​​Working in healthcare is an inherently stressful occupation. Across care settings, medical disciplines, and roles, healthcare workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of experiencing occupational burnout and workplace violence that affect their physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being. Research has consistently shown a relationship between burnout, workplace violence, and poor well-being, and has noted general increases in the prevalence rates of all three that coincide with significant changes in societal circumstances. The following factors have contributed to an epidemic of HCW burnout:

In an attempt to alleviate HCW burnout and improve staffing levels, the US Surgeon General issued an advisory calling for a dramatic shift in our public health infrastructure. It recommends an overall commitment to improving organizational culture so that it is more responsive to worker voices and needs. Recommended strategies include ensuring nonpunitive access to mental health services, providing living wages and benefits, protecting against workplace violence, improving emergency preparedness, reducing administrative burdens, addressing social determinants of health and health inequities, diversifying the workforce, and prioritizing social connection and community—the cornerstone of safe, equitable, person-centered healthcare. Although these efforts are ideal, healthcare organizations have struggled to meet these goals while simultaneously navigating unprecedented care delivery challenges, and some organizations may not have the resources available to implement such programs. However, the strategies presented are scalable and should be considered and adapted within the context of the organization's ability to implement well-being projects. ​​

Leadership buy-in and active participation are crucial to implementing and sustaining improvement initiatives. Leadership sets the tone for the organization's culture of safety, which is the foundation for an engaged, well-supported workforce. Beyond wellness committees or informal champions, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Academy of Medicine suggest appointing a chief wellness officer (CWO) who secures staff wellness resources and works toward improving the patient experience, health outcomes, staff retention, and the organization's bottom line. Organizations would start by convening a well-being task force to determine priorities, conduct cost analyses (including...

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