Nonprofit Nursing Homes Have Happier Staffers

“The New Old Age,” a New York Times blog, discusses a study that shows that staffers at non-profit nursing homes are happier than their counterparts at for-profit nursing homes.

This is in keeping with many other studies that have shown that nonprofits do a better job of caring for patients.
It makes sense that staff happiness and quality of care are linked, whether it’s because they experience more satisfaction in their jobs when they are doing the job well, or because happier people are able to give better care.

Past studies have shown that in commercially operated homes, for instance, the certified nursing assistants who provide the bulk of the hands-on care are less satisfied with their jobs than those in nonprofits. Directors of nursing in commercial homes are less satisfied as well, and more likely to be planning to leave. In general, such homes are associated with higher — in some cases, shockingly high — staff turnover.

Dr. Choi and her colleagues, surveying nearly 900 registered nurses working in almost 300 skilled nursing facilities in New Jersey, found several characteristics that contributed to the nurses’ job satisfaction: their ability to help set the facility’s policies, their sense of having supportive managers, their feeling that they had adequate resources (translation: enough staff to get the job done well). “A more supportive practice environment,” the researchers called it.

At any rate, R.N.’s working in nonprofit nursing homes were significantly more satisfied with their jobs, the study showed.

Though turnover lay outside the scope of her study, Dr. Choi thought that greater satisfaction might keep them in their jobs longer and affect the work environment for the nursing aides and licensed practical nurses whom R.N.’s supervise. Those staff people would then also be less likely to leave, leading to better outcomes for the residents they come to know. Her next research project will look at the relationship between work force satisfaction and patient outcomes.

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