Should Nursing Home Staff Be Allowed to Refuse Shifts?

Should Nursing Home Staff Be Allowed to Refuse ShiftsShould Nursing Home Staff Be Allowed to Refuse Shifts?

It’s no secret that in any industry, fatigue and sleepiness can have a detrimental effect on an employee’s productivity. Not only that, it can put themselves or others at risk, depending on the field in which they’re employed. Nursing home staff is certainly not an exception. Naturally, extended work shifts combined with sleep deprivation and fatigue can be a dangerous combination when it comes to administering care to elderly residents; especially those who have specific healthcare needs.

According to a recent statement from the American Nurses Association (ANA), registered nurses should have more control over scheduling in order to reduce the risk of fatigued workers. While this statement was directed towards those healthcare providers in the hospital setting, this could certainly be applied to nursing home staff as well. The ANA recommendations state that employers should take nurse input into account when creating schedules and these should be “regular and predictable.” Basically, the ANA is saying that if an RN feels that working a certain shift would be dangerous due to fatigue, they should be able to reject that work assignment without fear of negative consequences.

Should nursing home staff be allowed to refuse shifts as well? ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, Ph.D, RN, stated in a November 19 press release that “We’re concerned not only with greater likelihood for errors, diminished problem solving, slower reaction time and other performance deficits related to fatigue, but also with dangers posed to nurses’ own health.”

In nursing homes, not only would severe fatigue affect the staff’s ability to appropriately care for residents who may need more assistance that most, it could also increase the risk of them injuring themselves. Lifting injuries, as well as slip and fall accidents, are common in healthcare facilities; this includes nursing homes. It’s far more likely for these incidents to occur when a nurse or employee is tired and not at their best.

Irregular shifts that require nurses and nursing home staff to miss out on sleep have been of increasing concern. The issue has even garnered recent attention and prompted federal legislation that would put limits on how workers are scheduled.

At DigniCARE Insurance, we understand the importance of ensuring that not only your residents are property cared for, but that your employees’ needs are also met. In addition to comprehensive coverage for nursing home and other senior living facilities, we offer risk management programs that include safety training, loss control, workers’ comp, and claims analysis. Please contact us today to learn more at (855) 883-6306.

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