Richard Cresswell

The Cost Of High Staff Turnover In Care Homes

Nurse Staff Turnover

Working in a care home, you are no doubt very aware of the increasingly high staff turnover in the sector, with unnecessary numbers of resignations...

Working in a care home, you are no doubt very aware of the increasingly high staff turnover in the sector, with unnecessary numbers of resignations or dismissals, and the problems and challenges this creates.

The staff turnover rate in the adult social care sector in England was estimated at 27.3% in 2019/20, well above the national average of roughly 18%. However, this is considered to be a very conservative estimate. Many care homes lose over half their staff every year and some record annual turnover rates of over 100%.

There are, of course, some care providers who have achieved a fantastic result with zero staff turnover annually but sadly these examples are few and far between.

High staff turnover impacts many aspects of care, especially budgeting. Staff shortage means that money is lost because care can’t be delivered. On top of that, recruiting and training replacements takes both time and money, neither of which the sector has an abundance of. Existing staff can be hit hard by high turnover rates. They are the ones that feel the impact of cash flow, workplace stress and low morale most keenly because they are the ones who have to pick up extra workloads when a colleague leaves and they feel the pinch from tightening budgets.

The feelings of resentment and under-appreciation build, pushing more staff to quit and the cycle continues. It’s also really important to keep in mind the wider impact that a high staff turnover has, namely on those that are being cared for. Staff shortages mean less time to spend with each elderly or vulnerable person and having to rush their care, limited consistency in who those they care for see which makes their care less personal or potential errors because care workers are tired or inexperienced.

Ways to reduce turnover

Does your care home have a staff turnover of 50% or more? If so, the good news is that, with a committed and sustained effort, you can expect to reduce this by half. Improving staff morale and lowering workplace stress are two great places to start and the ripple affect from a happy workforce will result in happier consumers and healthier budgets. 


1. Do Not Exploit The Commitment Of Dedicated Staff

One way to do this is by not exploiting the commitment and care of dedicated staff. The stalwarts in your organisation do the job - and remain in it - because they have a genuine compassion and love for the people they look after. It is often these people that are turned to in moments of need because they’ll agree to help cover extra shifts for example. These reliable team members become even more stretched, overworked and stressed. Giving them much needed downtime to relax and refresh will result in greater happiness and productivity.


2. Understand Peoples Motivations

When recruiting staff, consider the motivations behind why they want to work in care. Do they want to do it because they enjoy working with older people? Are they unable to find work elsewhere? Perhaps this is a stepping stone to working in healthcare? If they love looking after people, then the chances are that they will stay in the job for a much longer time. 


3. Look For The Right Characteristics

Similarly, evaluating the characteristics of the individual and what’s important for the role can help ensure staff longevity. Factors such as patience, compassion and reliability are all important in care work and make someone great at their job. Whilst it is of course vitally important that care workers are recruited from a broad spectrum of ages, there are many attributes that make an older person particularly good at the job. From a greater empathy with elderly people to having more life experience, there are many reasons why encouraging older workers into care roles could help decrease staff turnovers and the challenges it creates. Although the sector is experiencing chronically high staff turnover, there are effective ways to reduce this that will create a happy, positive environment for both care home staff and those they look after.

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