Happy staff help the bottom line, review finds

Management at a Sydney nursing home have saved money and improved care standards by making the facility a more attractive place to work.

The outcome shows that all parties can benefit when managers look beyond simple cost-cutting and instead work with staff to deal with underlying issues.

Last September, after years of sub-standard financial performance, the Holy Spirit nursing home at Croydon announced a review of operations.

The review had a focus of not reducing resident care and looked at performance in all areas, including nursing.

There was some concern among NSWNA members that the drive to reduce costs might lead to cuts to staff and working hours.

But the operational review, which included staff consultations, soon identified massive bills for agency staff and high sick leave as crucial issues to be addressed.

To solve the facility’s financial woes, the review found that more permanent staff had to be recruited and retained.

As a result of the operational review, Holy Spirit, part of the Catholic Health Care Services group, resolved to:

  • improve revenue
  • increase permanent staff
  • boost bed occupancy.

A reorganisation of staff saw some job losses but created a more favourable working environment for the remaining staff, with new rosters introduced on 16 October.

Shift lengths have been increased from 7.5 to 8 hours, allowing RDOs to be re-introduced.

Night duty staff no longer have cleaning duties and can devote more time to caring for residents.

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Keidja said the improvements at Holy Spirit would benefit management, staff, patients and the bottom line.

‘To attract and keep good nurses, you need a working environment that makes staff feel proud and secure,’ said Judith.

‘Widespread use of agency staff tends to create a feeling of instability. High staff turnover increases the burden on permanent staff and adds costs in absenteeism, advertising and recruitment.

‘The re-introduction of RDOs is an excellent retention tool,’ said Judith. ‘It acknowledges that nurses do heavy physical and mental work and need that day off.’