Home for Vulnerable Adults or Toxic Workplace?

Nursing home caregivers and licensed staff need a supportive work environment. A new study indicates that Facilities should invest in mental health initiatives for employees to address and prevent the effects of toxic stress.  Nearly three-fourths (73%) of 1,100 frontline workers were found to be at high or intermediate risk of toxic stress, according to study results by staffing company KARE and the National Association of Health Care Assistants. “Toxic stress” is an unhealthy, prolonged stress response that damages both mental and physical health into adulthood.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently ranks nursing and healthcare among the most stressful professions,” said Katie Rhone, senior vice president of HERO and employee experience at KARE. “With 34% experiencing high toxic stress, the study emphasizes the urgent need to evaluate mental health benefits for our careforce.”

Nurses and nurse aides — referred to in the study as the “careforce” — were twice as likely as the general population to be at high risk of toxic stress. With licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) being in such high demand – and short supply – some operators have been offering enticing pay packages as part of an independent contractor agreement to attract them.

Burnout, the high emotional demands of caring for vulnerable seniors and even workplace violence have plagued the long-term care workforce — adding to a noxious cocktail of factors that cause abuse and neglect of residents.

Litigation tied to the use of independent contractors in the nursing home space has increased ever since the Department of Labor (DOL) cracked down on the criteria used to classify workers in the sector.  Cases against operators in MassachusettsKansas, and Pennsylvania deal with back wages, and certified nurse aides (CNAs) classified as 1099 workers, according to reports from Skilled Nursing News, MedCity News and Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA).

The rule, which became effective on March 11, reverts back to the historical norm when it comes to classifying workers. As more lawsuits pop up concerning worker misclassification, and facilities are found guilty in these cases, operators will use 1099 workers less, or be more selective with the types of employees hired as independent contractors.