Nurses, the largest sector of health professionals, are a critical part of the healthcare system.1 Yet the nursing profession continues to face shortages, and according to the American Nurses Association, through 2022 there will be more job openings for registered nurses than for any other profession in the United States.1
When a nursing unit is understaffed, the nurses in that unit experience excessive workloads.2 And this, in turn, leads to higher turnover and more nurses leaving the profession.1
Nursing shortages lead to less one-on-one time between nurses and patients, which decreases qualify of care and lowers patient satisfaction scores3 and, ultimately, leads to higher morbidity and mortality rates.1
The impact on patient well-being goes beyond the potential for medication errors and lapses in care. Socialization between nurses and patients helps relieve harmful stress that can negatively affect patients’ coronary arteries, insulin regulation, gut function, and immune system,4 and it releases neurotransmitters that regulate stress and anxiety.5
A Safe Environment
One of the fundamental goals of residential care facilities is to ensure that they are providing a safe environment for the people in their care. The current nursing shortage makes this goal challenging to achieve.
Fortunately, health sitters can step in and help fill the gaps and free-up some nursing time. In addition to providing nurses with the time they need to dedicate to patient care, the reduction in workload also increases job satisfaction.
How Sitters Can Help
Among the services health sitters can provide include:
· Being aware of medication regimens to make sure residents receive all of their medications on schedule
· Helping maintain residents’ comfort level
· Assisting with meals and feeding
· Monitoring activity levels to ensure that residents are as active as appropriate for their conditions
· Helping with personal grooming
· Providing companionship
Don’t underestimate the importance of companionship. Research shows that social relationships have both short- and long-term effects on health throughout our lifetimes.6 Ideally, every resident would have frequent visits from family and friends. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible due to constraints on time, distance, and finances. With a shortage in nursing staffs, many residents are left with little or no social interaction. Fortunately, health sitters can provide companionship for residents and relief for overburdened staff.
SitByCare is a service that provides on-demand health companionship. This health sitting platform matches patients and companion seekers with health sitters in their local community, so that no patients have to live with loneliness. If you think the residents in your facility or their loved ones could benefit from this service—or if you know someone who is in need of a sitter or is interested in becoming one—learn more by clicking here.
1. Haddad LM, Annamaraju P, Toney-Butler J. Nursing Shortage. NCBI Bookshelf. Dec. 14, 2020. Available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175.
2. Columbia Nursing Study Finds Link Between Healthcare Associated Infections and Nurse Understaffing. Columbia Univ. June 4, 2019. Available online at https://www.newswise.com/articles/columbia-nursing-study-finds-link-between-healthcare-associated-infections-and-nurse-understaffing.
3. Sadler F. The Nursing Shortage and Its Impace on Patient Safety. Relias Institute. Available online at https://www.relias.com/blog/nursing-shortage-impact-on-patient-safety.
4. The Health Benefits of Strong Relationships. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Aug. 6, 2019. Available online at https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships.
5. What Are the Health Benefits of Being Social? Face-to-Face Contact Is Like a Vaccine. Medical News Today. Available online at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321019#Face-to-face-contact-is-like-a-vaccine.
6. Umberson D, Montez JK. Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Polilcy. J Health Soc Behav, 2010: 51(suppl): S54-S66. Available online at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022146510383501.