A nurse taking a patient for an outdoor stroll in her wheelchair.

Through the last year and a half, as we have fought through Covid-19, the importance of having a positive company culture has been driven home at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Through the pandemic, areas of “company culture” that needed improvement became more apparent, and staff went to work to fix it!  

Culture and environment in skilled nursing homes assisted care facilities, and post-acute care facilities are vital and begin with the staff. Residents and patients live at care facilities in times of change, unrest, turmoil, illness, and loneliness. Whether it is long-term or during recovery, the time spent at these facilities can be difficult for the residents and patients. Atmosphere, culture, and environment can make a world of difference, or be detrimental, to quality of life or recovery.  

Many nursing homes and post-acute centers have mottos such as “we treat everyone with respect and dignity.” One nursing home found that when they emphasized their mission to include all staff members and residents, positive repercussions in the culture rippled out. Allowing staff members to have good and bad days, talk about their home life, own up to mistakes, forgive people, and learn and move forward creates an environment where staff embrace and engage in the organization’s vision.  

Another essential lesson care facilities have learned during the pandemic is the importance of setting up a culture of safety before a crisis hits. This way, when an unexpected situation comes up, staff and residents can bring up questions, fears, and ideas and be respected. This positive environment leads to a more positive culture and teamwork instead of suspicion, fear, animosity, and resentment. 

Amid the pandemic, care facilities found that “in a culture of safety and trust, it is much more difficult for conspiracy theories, rumors, and misinformation to gain traction.” When staff members feel safe, appreciated, and respected, they are, in turn, more able to make the residents and patients feel safe.  

Facilities and care homes have found that when they hire administrators, charge nurses, and other staff members with a positive attitude and keep these employees happy, supported, and appreciated, the facility or home culture thrives. Retaining exemplary staff is the single most crucial thing a facility or home can do for the in-house culture.  

A new program, called “First Touch,” is revolutionizing the culture at nursing homes and post-acute care facilities. This program involves nurses, when beginning their shift, to enter the resident or patient’s “room without any supplies and, before starting their clinical or task-oriented activities, stay ‘present’ for the resident while developing a personal relationship.” Facilities and care homes have found that this program invites more care, nurturing, and personability to their culture. Staff members feel more deeply connected to patients, and patients and residents feel welcome, seen, and like they belong. Nursing and other staff members were initially worried this new program would impede care and add to an already busy schedule. Nurses found that this “First Touch” program reduced the number of call lights residents and patients needed, and patients were getting their needs met more quickly and efficiently.   

In conclusion, a positive company, employee, and resident culture is vital for successful nursing homes and short-term care facilities. We’ve learned through the pandemic how crucial it is, and many nursing homes are implementing even more successful programs, mottos, and goals. Health care homes have a unique set of needs, and having a strong culture at the core helps with the success and happiness of patients and residents, the fulfillment of staff members, and the productivity of the home.