Retain Them With Outside The Box Thinking

It’s no secret that the Senior Living Industry can’t find enough healthcare professionals to fill critical roles and now more than ever, there’s a real concern about how to retain current team members especially Nurse Leaders.

Directors of Nursing, Resident Care Directors, and Wellness Directors are essential for quality senior care and integral to your leadership team. They’re in high-demand but limited in numbers. In this past year of COVID, many are feeling overworked, stressed-out, or totally exhausted.

Recently, one of MedBest’s Interim Nursing Home Administrators told us that from his 20+ years of experience, the retention of key people is not about pay. It doesn’t come down to money. It’s about kindness, compassion, and creating unique ways of showing appreciation that can’t be found just anywhere.

For example, an Executive Director in Arizona has kept his SNF DON in place for over 8 years. He attributes it in great part to the fact that they offer her one month off during a rolling calendar year. Regardless of what she chooses to do with that month, the facility is prepped, cross-trained, and ready to go in her absence. Of key importance is the fact that they do not call her for the entire month. It gives her the opportunity to decompress and reboot so she’s fully engaged and invested for the remaining 11 months.

With that in mind, here are a number of other “outside the box” retention ideas and initiatives:

-Offer Part or Full-time Assistant. In addition to an ADON, perhaps some secretarial help might be a stress reliever.  A secretarial assistant could help manage both personal and work-related items, plus handle all the report tracking, manage emails, organize appointments, etc.

-Incorporate Latest IT Capabilities. Many new technologies have been  implemented over the past year that helped nurses with workflow and provided quality patient care including video conferencing with families, calltoehealth, and wearable tech devices.  One of the best IT programs available for DONs are staffing tools that allow staff to take responsibility for many of the mundane and very cumbersome tasks such as requesting days off and self-scheduling. These programs also send text alerts to every staff member regarding vacant/open shifts so they can sign up via cell phone.  Check out featured by McKnight’s Senior Living.

-Consider Paying for Monthly Cleaning Services. Full-time healthcare workers often struggle to balance work with their household duties. It’s hard to put in a full day of caring for others and then going home and cleaning.  A housekeeping service takes away that extra stress.

-Subscribe to Home Delivery Services. There’s been a boom in subscription services over the past few years, making home delivery services a great perk. Recently, the meal delivery service of Freshly began offering Freshly for Business. These meals come pre-made so all your employees have to do is heat them up.

-Monthly Stipend for “Personal Well-Being.”  Consider giving DON’s $150 per month for anything that improves their personal quality of life. This may include things like gym memberships, personal trainers, yoga classes, salon services, etc.

-Consider Yearly Membership to Massage Envy. Tied into the bullet point above of “personal well-being”, offer a yearly membership to a place like Massage Envy. Our bodies need maintenance like everything else. A massage can lower stress and focus on tension release. A little pampering goes a long way.

-Offer Flexibility. Traditional work schedules are disappearing. As a result, more Nurse professionals are asking for greater flexibility in the workplace.  Think about offering a program where Regional Nurses or Flex-pool DONs take call and coverage in a DONs absence. This shows a great deal of concern and care for permanent DONs.

While COVID has had a major impact on staff turnover, and especially nurse turnover, think about what your organization could do differently to retain them. Managing turnover is about mindfully creating a workplace environment that supports your Nurse Leaders and their well-being.



Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President & CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since then, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living Industry. Her specialties include filling C-Suite, Vice President, Regional, and Property level positions.

Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the Senior Living Industry.  She previously worked in operations for both Senior Housing and Senior Living prior to founding MedBest. Today, Julie makes it her personal and professional mission to place qualified people in health care positions where they have the greatest impact.

Julie earned her degree in Gerontology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida and continues to cultivate her career through senior living conferences, forums, trade shows, and expos.

(Julie’s industry articles and interviews have been published in Provider Magazine, Argentum Quarterly, LeadingAge Magazine, Florida Health Care Association, Florida Assisted Living Association, Florida Senior Living Association, LeadingAge Florida, LeadingAge Indiana, Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Oregon Health Care Association, and Virginia Assisted Living Association.)

Contact Julie Rupenski at / 727-526-1294.



MedBest is an award-winning national Executive Search Firm exclusive to the Senior Living Industry established in 2001.  We recruit and acquire exceptional senior care talent, permanent and interim executives, for the full continuum of LTC facilities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Home Health Care.

Contact us at 727-526-1294 /

Visited 1645 Times, 1 Visit today