Understaffing in general is a serious concern for healthcare. Unfortunately, both flu season and the holiday season tend to exasperate these issues, especially in nursing. Not only are nurses faced with higher volumes of sick patients, but they must also address issues of understaffing due to employees calling out sick or being on holiday, which can be stressful. Here are three straightforward tips every nurse leader can use to support their employees this flu season:
- Enforce processes to reduce the spread of flu viruses across your organization. Hospitals are heavily reliant on policies and procedures to improve healthcare and safety, the same should be no different when it comes to protecting your staff from the flu. By promoting processes such as handwashing procedures and educating staff on additional resources, you can help reduce the rate at which staff members are out sick.
- Create metrics to track compliance with the policies and procedures mentioned above. In doing so, you can gain a better understanding of who is meeting hand hygiene and mask changing requirements. By tracking compliance, leaders can gain a better insight into which metrics are being met, and which are not. In turn, this provides the opportunity to go back to step one and communicate the importance of these procedures to increase compliance.
- Allow nurses to take sick days instead of asking them to come in if they are not feeling well. If you are facing understaffing, it may seem tempting to ask someone to come in if say they are not feeling well but still able. And while it might help solve understaffing issues that day, it will only exasperate them if a sick employee comes to work and gets the rest of the team sick as well.
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