Note: On my travels to represent NAAP at conferences this fall, I was asked a number of the same questions, often because of my experience as an Administrator/Executive Director. Many of these were not programming related, but rather concerns about operations, staffing or management. I’m starting this new column in the NAAP e-blast as a way to answer some your “FAQs”, but please be aware that my responses are based on my experience and professional values – and may not be the opinion of your Administrator or organization.
Why are nursing staff members allowed to get away with breaking attendance policy? Nurses and CNAs at my community no call no show or call out at the last minute and are not subject to the consequences written in the company policy.
We all know why this is happening – there are simply not enough staff to meet the residents’ needs so there is a tendency of management overlook employee tardiness, call outs and even no call no show occurrences.
Unfortunately, communities have no choice but to hire and retain staff members that they would not have done 3-4 years ago just to ensure they have the numbers to provide care. I wish that there were enough nurses and CNAs in the workforce to ensure that all assisted living communities and skilled nursing homes had excellent numbers of high quality staff. Those numbers just don’t exist at this time. Staffing pressures in the senior living industry are a major contributor as to why skilled nursing facilities across the nation are closing their doors, meaning residents have to be relocated and staff members in all departments lose their jobs.
I see signs that the industry is turning around, at least in some parts of the country – especially anecdotal reports of more applications for positions, a little less use of agency, a little less turnover. One of my communities is “fully staffed” on the long term care unit and I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve heard those words! The closure of some skilled nursing homes means that those employees can go to work for another home and boost their employee team. I know there are many communities who refuse to allow employees to get away with breaking attendance policy – and these communities tend to have good team accountability, meaning the nurses and CNAs themselves speak up when someone is letting the team down and do not allow them to call out without consequences.
However, unless you are the DON or Administrator the attendance of nurses and CNAs is none of your business. I understand that it feels unfair – and I do believe that all employees should be treated equally and HR policies should be applicable to all departments and positions. But as long as the employees in your department are subject to the same level of discretion with the attendance policy as the nurses and CNAs, you need to let this go.
Is it right? No. But is it the reality that we have to live with for a while longer? Probably, yes.
Amy Laughlin, CRCFA, ADC, CDP, NAAP President