Retain staff or perish

A senior US researcher has warned a failure to address staff retention may lead to business failure.


American workforce expert, Dr Robyn Stone.

The executive director of the Institute for the Future of Aging Services, housed within the Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AHSA) in the USA, Dr Robyn Stone has warned that stemming high turnover of direct care staff will be the key to survival in aged care.

Speaking as a keynote presenter at the annual Aged and Community Services National Conference in Adelaide today, Dr Stone said major workforce and workplace reforms are required across the entire aged care sector if a major crisis in the supply of professional and trained staff is to be averted.

“In the US, the average cost of staff turnover is US$3,500 per direct care worker, comprising US$2,500 in direct costs and US$1,000 in indirect costs.”

“In fact, governments in the US lose a total of US$2.5 billion per year through staff turnover in long term care,” Dr Stone said.

Dr Stone made a number of compelling cases for improving aged care workplaces in order to better retain staff, including arguments around improved quality of services, quality of staff relationships and staff/resident relationships and general quality of life for all.  However Dr Stone’s business case was perhaps the most stark of all.

“There is no point in talking about funding a sector if you don’t have anyone to work in it.  There are such enormous savings from reduced staff turnover and increased retention that you’d be crazy not to invest in your workplace,” said Dr Stone. 

Among a number of recommendations, Dr Stone highlighted the importance of flat structures where staff are mentored and coached, rather than ‘supervised’ and where all levels of staff receive meaningful and rewarding training on a continuous basis.

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