Long-term care staff play a critical role in ensuring that the elderly and disabled receive the care and attention they need. As such, their health and well-being directly impact the quality of care they provide. Sleep is a fundamental aspect of well-being, and improving the sleep quality of your staff can lead to increased productivity, fewer mistakes, and lower turnover rates. Not only does this benefit the staff, but it can also result in cost savings for the organization. Here’s how CEOs and managers can support their long-term care staff to achieve better sleep.
1. Educate About the Importance of Sleep
Hold workshops or training sessions to raise awareness about the importance of sleep and its impact on health and job performance, especially for shift workers.
Provide resources and information on good sleep hygiene practices.
Ensure your EAP provider has counselors trained & certified in CBT for Insomnia (CBT-i).
2. Assess Sleep Quality to Prevent Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Successfully adapting to shift work requires coaching the body to sleep at times that may feel unnatural. Many shift workers find they can minimize the symptoms of shift work disorder with Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) strategies, light therapy and lifestyle modifications.
3. Nap Rooms or Rest Areas
Designate quiet spaces where staff can take short power naps during breaks. Even a 20-minute nap can significantly boost alertness and performance.
Ensure these spaces are quiet, comfortable, dimly lit, and free from interruptions.
4. Limit Overtime and Ensure Adequate Breaks
Overworked staff are more likely to be sleep deprived, which can compromise the quality of care they provide.
Ensure that staff get regular breaks during their shifts to rest and recharge.
5. Invest in Quality Training
Well-trained and supported staff feel more confident in their roles, reducing work-related stress, which can interfere with sleep.
Continuous training and skill building can make tasks more efficient, reducing unnecessary stress.
6. Promote a Healthy Workplace Culture
Encourage activities that reduce stress, such as team-building exercises, mindfulness sessions, or even group exercises.
Provide resources for mental health and stress management, as anxiety and stress are significant barriers to good sleep.
7. Provide Financial Incentives
Offer discounts or subsidies for sleep-related products like quality mattresses, blackout curtains, or white noise machines.
Consider partnerships with mental health providers or sleep clinics for discounted services.
8. Seek Feedback and Implement Changes
Regularly ask staff for feedback on their well-being and any challenges they face in getting adequate sleep.
Use this feedback to adjust policies and introduce new measures to support staff sleep.
The Financial Argument for Better Sleep
It might be tempting to view initiatives that promote better sleep as unnecessary expenses. However, when staff are well-rested:
Mistakes are minimized: Sleep-deprived individuals are more prone to accidents. In a long-term care setting, this could mean medication errors or other potentially costly mistakes.
Productivity increases: A lack of sleep reduces performance and decreases resident safety. Well-rested staff are more alert and efficient.
Staff turnover rates decrease: Replacing staff is costly in terms of recruitment, training, and potential disruption in care continuity. Empathy fatigue, moral injury and burnout are the leading causes of staff turnover in long-term care. Sleep is required for good mental health. It may not always be possible to reduce stress created by job situations, but with supported sleep efficiency, staff can reduce their individual stress and improve their mental health.
Reduction in sick leaves: Chronic sleep deprivation degrades mental health and weakens the immune system, leading to more frequent illnesses and subsequent absences.
Supporting the sleep health of long-term care staff is not just a gesture of goodwill but a strategic move that benefits the organization's efficiency, safety, and financial health. Staff need to be supported from the top down with the right tools to be successful in their roles. This will allow them to gain a sense of job satisfaction while easing the stressors that can lead to burnout. By implementing a combination of education and resources, CEOs and managers can ensure that their teams are well-rested and equipped to provide the best care possible.