The role of caregiver is known to be a stressful one, with nurses, aides, and memory care givers prone to burnout and fatigue. However, it can also be a risky job – more dangerous in some respects than construction. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders of all occupations in 2010. The incidence rate of work related musculoskeletal disorders for these occupations was 249 per 10,000 workers. This compares to the average rate for all workers in 2010 of 34.” Workers also face risks associated with biological hazards, drug exposures, and sometimes even from the patients themselves.

A September 2013 OSHA study about hospital worker safety found that efforts to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work have been successful to a point, but are still far larger than other industries. Nursing and residential care facilities struggle with this to an even greater extent; that same OSHA study showed the most recent figures for injuries resulting in days away from work (out of every 10,000 full-time employees) were 250 for nursing and residential care employees versus the already high 150 for hospital workers. By contrast, overall private industry rates were slightly more than 100.

As if keeping senior living employees physically safe weren’t enough of a challenge, human resources professionals in this industry struggle with how to prevent burnout amongst their caregiver employees. The combined emotional, physical, and mental efforts required of nurses, CNAs, and other care staff on a daily basis can lead to compassion fatigue, resulting in indifferent care, low morale, and missed work.

To counter these unique challenges, many senior living facilities are offering wellness programs to their employees, where the focus is on keeping their bodies healthy and their minds energized. These programs provide the tools and support caregivers need to deal with the stresses and demands placed on them by their challenging careers. They also represent a substantial investment by the facilities themselves, who see the payoff in reduced injuries and increased employee optimism.

Is there more that can be done? Safety and wellness programs are solid investments and arguably a necessity in today’s senior living employment market, but they aren’t necessarily preventive measures. Their efficacy is dependent on employee buy-in, involvement, and engagement. So it makes sense that the investment can be strengthened by ensuring that the employees themselves are the best fit for their chosen career, and that HR professionals can focus their efforts on those who are least likely to purposefully create chaos. This can be done through careful hiring practices that include pre-employment screening such as Insight’s Premium Care Selection (PCS).

More than a skills assessment, PCS was created in coordination with our senior living partners to pinpoint the specific traits they found made up their most successful candidates. Compassion, dedication, and communication skills are only a few of the many characteristics that PCS can measure and report back to you to allow you to identify those applicants with the most potential for success. Importantly, it also helps you target those candidates with a willingness to perform the duties of the job, a basic measure that is critical to know before you move forward with applicant review. In addition, it can help you find and eliminate candidates who will directly admit to counterproductive behaviors such as theft, drug use, and workers’ compensation fraud. Once you’ve found your strongest candidates, PCS provides you with retention indicators to spotlight those who are less prone to turnover, as well as follow-up tools for the interview process.

From start to finish, Premium Care Selection helps you turn your hiring process into a proactive step toward fortifying your existing safety and wellness programs, making your facilities industry leaders in employee safety and satisfaction. Please contact us today to learn more.