By Claire Lucas
Workforce challenges have become the norm for most health care providers. Low unemployment, increased competition and workforce shortages all contribute to the problem. Not only is it difficult to hire employees, but retention is also a serious issue. These challenges unfortunately will only continue to get worse. It is predicted that the number of open positions will steeply increase in the next few years.
So as a health care provider, you might ask “what can I do?”
The Green House Project has had great success utilizing Sages, volunteers who act as a coach and advisor for the Shahbazim, a specially trained versatile worker, who has core training as a certified nursing assistant (C.N.A.). The Sage is typically a volunteer from the community who has demonstrated wisdom. They serve as a mentor, advisor, facilitator, counselor, coach and role model to the Shahbazim.
At The Green House Project we believe that by empowering staff, you not only motivate employees to perform at the optimal level, but you promote higher job satisfaction, which supports higher retention. Empowering staff takes an intentional effort from leadership. It is an ongoing process of providing staff the tools, training, resources, encouragement and motivation they need to be successful. Sages can work in tandem with leadership to provide the extra support and mentoring that is often so vital for success.
The Sage creates a valued relationship with the Shahbazim, becoming a trusted person whom the Shabazim feels comfortable seeking counsel and assistance with problem solving. They can also act as a liaison between the staff, the elders and the organization’s administrative staff. The Sage visits the homes on a regular basis and participates in team meetings. They are part of the team.
The Green House Project believes in Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWT), grooming Shahbazim to manage household matters, such as ordering supplies, budgeting, cooking, laundry, etc. The Sage can be instrumental in coaching the team as they encounter the challenges of creating an effective working group.
This year at the Pioneer Network Conference we will be offering an educational session The Wisdom of the Sage (D11), which features the Sages from Mirasol, a Green House community in Loveland, Colorado. Come learn more about the duties and responsibilities of the Sage, where to find sages and leadership’s role in supporting the Sages. We feel this model of using volunteers to support staff, transcends the Green House model and can be utilized successfully in any health care organization.
We invite you to join in the conversation and share your thoughts and ideas … what innovations are you seeing? What would you like to see?