Yet at our March 2023 Health Human Resource Symposium our operators discussed a disturbing trend: the significant emotional and mental health toll on the continuing care workforce. We learned about the degree of moral distress and grief among staff due to the illness and lives lost among the residents we care for. And we discussed at length the pandemic-related burnout within our teams due to prolonged workload and overtime.

We also shared the observation that front-line leaders are particularly vulnerable to pandemic effects: they’re continually challenged to uphold and teach changing protocols; boost the morale of their direct reports; manage scheduling disruptions due to illness and absenteeism; and often have few opportunities to take time away from day-to-day accountabilities to recharge or participate in continuing professional education.

Operators discussed the value staff place on peer supports and mentoring, and the limited uptake of formal Employee and Family Assistance Programs. We also heard about the critical role faith and values play in the ability of our workforce too face challenges with hope and resiliency.

Our symposium conclusions

  • All operators — independently and collectively need additional resources to properly invest in mental health programming and frontline leadership development programs. CHAA is continuing to advocate for funding supports in this area.

  • There is a tremendous body of expertise and programming among CHAA operators that can be leveraged and shared. Collaborating across multiple operators is a significant cost- and time-saver that can achieve economies of scale.

  • Technology can be leveraged to enhance interactive delivery and leveraging mechanism..

  • Peer Support Programs are exceptionally effective in fostering a sense of camaraderie, shared values and team resiliency.

  • Communities of Practice can be highly effective in building capacity and co-creating solutions across like-minded CHAA operators.

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