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Reducing The Impact Of CMS’s 5-Star Quality Rating Changes

July 21, 2022 | Peter Corless


As of July 27th, you may see a change in your organization’s star rating on the Medicare.gov Care Compare website. As detailed in a previous blog post, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will then include total nurse staff turnover, RN turnover, and administrator turnover in their calculations for staffing rating. Additionally, only those with a Five-Star staffing rating will get an extra star added to their overall Five-Star quality rating – previously, four-star staffing ratings earned this upgrade.

What does this mean for you? If you previously relied on a four-star staffing rating to boost your overall rating, you’ll need to change your strategy. And if you have a turnover problem, you could have a star rating problem, regardless of your overall staffing levels.

These changes from CMS firmly place employee retention as a top priority for long-term care providers. With a competitive job market, retention can be tough, but there are strategies you can put in place now to reduce your staff turnover.

Give new hires an outstanding onboarding experience

According to an OnShift & McKnight’s Long-Term Care News survey, 40% of turnover in senior care occurs within the first 3 months of employment. Welcoming new hires into your organization with support, training, and incentives is crucial to retention. If you don’t have one already, build a formal onboarding plan that includes company-wide and department-specific training. Help introduce the new hire to your community with a resident buddy program or by assigning them a mentor. Incentivize them to stay with tenure rewards for 30, 60, and/or 90 days.

Offer flexible scheduling

Your competition for talent is not limited to healthcare – you’re also competing against retail, fast food, and hospitality. These industries are more likely to offer flexible hours, so senior care organizations need to follow suit to keep employees. Offer shorter shift options and use software like OnShift Schedule to allow employees to easily pick up and trade shifts.

Facilitate personal connections

Employees stay longer at organizations where they have friends and feel connected to the mission. Help build these connections with team outings, family events, resident engagement programs, and social clubs. Encourage employees to recommend their friends for open jobs at your organization with referral bonuses.

Provide more leadership opportunities

Your employees are more likely to stay with your organization if they can advance their careers and feel like you are invested in their growth. Job shadowing, learning stipends, and tuition reimbursement are valued opportunities for those seeking career growth. For more experienced employees, offer leadership opportunities through promotions, mentoring, and positions on organizational committees.

Solicit and respond to employee feedback

Any attempt at retaining employees can be bolstered by actually knowing what your employees want. Don’t wait for an annual survey to get employee feedback on engagement programs, operational efficiencies, work relationships, and other aspects of your organization. Use software like OnShift Engage to send frequent pulse surveys to solicit feedback, and allow employees to respond anonymously if they prefer. Then, make sure you address concerns and problem areas your employees identify as soon as possible.

The changes to how CMS calculates your staffing rating may seem daunting, but you can meet this challenge! Building an employee-first culture will not only make your staff happier, but it will positively impact the lives of your residents and improve your bottom line.

For more tips on celebrating and supporting staff, check out our Biggest Book of Perks For Senior Care.

For more information on the changes to CMS’s star rating system, register for our upcoming webinar.

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About Peter Corless

Peter Corless is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Development for OnShift. Peter is a recognized HR leader in post-acute care and is well-known for his achievements at some of the country’s largest post-acute care organizations, including Kindred Healthcare and Genesis HealthCare. As an experienced, chief administrative and human resources officer within these organizations, he developed strategies that reduced turnover, improved recruiting and hiring strategies, and reduced labor costs.

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