Quality in Health Care: The Workforce Factor

By Jude Carter

Manchester Manor is the first and only independently owned skilled nursing facility to win the prestigious Gold Excellence in Quality Award from the American Health Care Association. The moment you walk in to this 126-bed facility in Manchester, CT you sense something different. It’s not just the warmth of the staff, or the cleanliness of the facility. It’s a sense of cohesiveness and a feeling of pride.

Manchester’s mission is to provide quality care and a supportive environment for staff. Paul Liistro, founder and managing partner, likes to say, “We are nothing more than people taking care of people.”

While this may sound simple, it cannot be done without a workforce that is empowered, engaged and motivated. At Manchester Manor this is serious business. Here’s how they approach it.

Empower
“It’s all about inclusion,” says Liistro. “We closely track ‘quality of life rounds’. Everything is thought of in terms of patient safety and care. We expect involvement from everyone. Whether it’s patient care, or facility maintenance, we need to keep one another informed so that issues can be addressed quickly and effectively.”

“People have a voice here”, says Mary Ellen Gaudette, Administrator. “For example, we understand that scheduling is a huge issue among staff, so we get their input. Housekeeping staff can create their own schedules. There are no unilateral decisions.”

Communicate
“We need to reach workers at all levels and on all shifts,” says Gaudette.  “That means using a variety of methods including paycheck stuffers, postings on bulletin board, memos, meetings at change of shift, and the Internet. The Marlin Electronic Communication Station (ECS) is one example of how we embrace new technology.”

The flat-screen electronic bulletin board display is located in a central hallway near the break room where it’s easy for staff and residents to see. It displays important announcements, schedules, health & wellness topics and motivational messages.

Digital Signage Supports Quality in Health Care

“ECS really helps with consistency of communication on all shifts. It’s also a great way to recognize staff, winners of our incentive programs and new employees. It draws staff closer. We can see the memories we’ve created. Residents like to pull up in their wheelchairs to see what’s new. Recently, we recognized a resident who was celebrating her 100th birthday. Family members enjoy it, too.”

Motivate and Recognize
Manchester Manor takes an innovative approach to incentive programs, tying them closely to strategic objectives. The Winter Incentive Program (WIP), which offers a trip to Aruba or Disney World, is one such example.

Harsh New England winters can affect staffing. To encourage staff to come to work, WIP offers weekly cash prize drawings to staff who demonstrate good attendance.  At the end of the winter, employees earn tickets for the grand price vacation drawing. The number of tickets awarded to each employee is based on length of service and attendance.

Manchester Manor has also created a Summer Incentive Program (SIP) to address summer vacation staffing challenges.  Typically, when there are not enough staff to cover shifts, nursing facilities tap into a nursing pool, resulting in extremely high fees being paid to the pools for C.N.A.’s and nurses.  To avoid this cost and to give staff a chance to earn extra money and an incentive, SIP was created. Employees earn one point for every hour worked and double points on weekends.  They lose a similar number of points when they call out for scheduled shifts.  Points are exchanged at the end of the program for a range of valuable gift cards.

Continuously Improve
Improving productivity and continually looking for new solutions are keys to Manchester Manor’s success. Staff is encouraged to keep learning to improve themselves. There is a strong focus on embracing innovative technology in all aspects of the operation including electronic patient records, electronic medication administration and the internet-based Marlin Electronic Communication Station for staff and resident communication.

Giving employees a voice. Communicating openly. Investing in their future. Recognizing contributions. These are the very elements that the Gold Excellence in Quality Award stands for when it comes to evaluating and recognizing workforce excellence.

Jude Carter
August 25, 2011

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