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Nursing home week or National Skilled Nursing Care Week is a special time dedicated to celebrating nursing professionals for their strength, commitment, and perseverance. This long-time tradition—sponsored by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896— is scheduled from May 6th to 12th every year. 

The ANA encourages state and regional departments to actively promote the nursing profession and highlight nurses’ contributions to the community during nursing home week. Also, healthcare providers are encouraged to express their gratitude by sharing kind words and celebratory gifts with their nurses

While one week a year may not be considered enough time to fully recognize the impact nurses have on society, it is an opportune time to exert added effort and show appreciation for the vital work that nurses do. And this is as crucial now as it ever has been. 

Studies show that the current working conditions have led to nursing staff fatigue and burnout, resulting in poorer physical and emotional health among staff and residents. The current pandemic has forced nurses to work excessively long hours under extreme pressure and challenging conditions affected by understaffing. In particular, nurses working in long term care were significantly challenged by pandemic conditions due to the frailty and vulnerability of seniors under their care. 

In an effort to highlight the contributions of these dedicated caregivers, a new webstream series, Short Stories From the Front Line of Long-Term Care, has begun highlighting the difficult jobs of nurses and other frontline workers. This is a step in the right direction, but there is still much that leaders in the industry need to do on an in-person basis as well. 

Popular Nursing Home Week Ideas

It cannot be emphasized enough just how much nurses have sacrificed these last two years. In the long term care industry, nurses worked tirelessly to overcome staffing shortages and infection control restrictions in order to provide comfort and care for residents, especially when their families could not. It then comes as no surprise that the extreme working conditions have taken a toll on some nurses. Nurses in various long term care facilities have been quitting, which only exacerbates the current staffing problem

In light of the staffing issues that long term care faces, the upcoming nursing home week can provide some relief and show nurses that the industry and their communities appreciate them.  Below are several popular nursing home week ideas that facilities can adopt during nursing home week to show their appreciation:

During the nursing home week, healthcare providers express their gratitude with gifts.
During the nursing home week, healthcare providers express their gratitude with gifts.
  • Provide Delicious Snacks – Food is always a winner, especially when it is purchased from a favorite bakery or restaurant. Providing delicious snacks is a great way to boost morale while keeping the nurses well-fed and energized. However, should facilities purchase outside food from outside establishments that will be shared with residents as well, staff must follow the CMS’ safety protocols that adhere to safety rules about how the food is stored and prepared. 
  • Purchase Thoughtful Gifts – Simple things like compression socks show a token of appreciation for the nurses’ hard work while acknowledging the long hours they spend on their feet. Furthermore, a good pair of compression socks also help with aches and pain, which are common problems nurses face.  Alternatively, facilities can also purchase gift cards from local shops or Amazon so that nurses can treat themselves to alternative gifts. 
  • Provide Caffeine Breaks – Caffeine is a great way to keep nurses focused and energized during shifts. Facilities can make regular coffee orders during nursing home week to keep energy levels and motivation up or provide gift cards to local coffee shops so nurses can visit them in their free time. 
  • Send Thank-You Notes – A great way to show appreciation is for facilities and the local communities to send personalized thank-you notes to the nursing staff. 
  • Organize Community Events – While nurses primarily spend their working hours in a facility, their contributions extend as far as the local community. An excellent way to promote community collaboration during nursing home week is to organize fundraising events and gift the money raised to nurses. Alternatively, facilities can also invite local children to make cards that demonstrate their appreciation for nurses. 
  • Let Them Relax – Nursing isn’t always an easy profession. To help relieve some stress during nursing home week, a facility can hire a local masseuse to give nurses a neck and shoulder massage during their breaks. This gives them a great mid-shift boost to breathe, relax, and de-stress, improving their general well-being and motivation to continue the rest of the shift.

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5 Motivation Tips to Use During (and Even After) National Nursing Home Week

With national nursing home week approaching, it is essential to remember that the real purpose behind nursing home week is to show appreciation and thanks for all the hard work nurses do. Hence, facility administrators should find out what their nurses like and entertain and endear themselves to them during the national nursing home week with activity themes and gifts. This helps make nurses feel more appreciated, as they will see that their leaders have a genuine concern for their care and wellbeing. 

However, nursing home week shouldn’t be the exception. Rather, facilities need to show appreciation throughout the year. Furthermore, they also need to understand how motivation and job satisfaction impact a nurse’s performance. Studies show that when nurses are more motivated, they provide a better quality of care. Therefore, it is in the facility’s best interest to motivate its nurses to achieve better care outcomes. Below are five tips long term care leadership can implement to motivate nurses and improve job satisfaction. 

Popular nursing home week ideas include residents giving gifts to a nurse to show appreciation.
Facilities can adopt several popular nursing home week ideas to show appreciation.

1. Avoid mistrust between the facility and nurses

A facility’s core values need to be centered around the residents and staff rather than profits. When nurses feel underappreciated, and management is more concerned about profits rather than their well-being, distrust forms between the nurses and the facility. The residents and their families will also perceive this distrust leading to more suspicion in the facility and management. 

To avoid mistrust between nurses and management while fostering better motivation, the facility must communicate its core values, observe ethics and show it prioritizes quality care for residents. When nurses share a mutual appreciation for the facility’s values, they feel a sense of pride in their work, consequently making them more motivated to care for nursing home residents. 

2. Promote team-building with daily huddles

Effective nursing home week ideas can be used beyond nursing home week. A particularly effective team-building exercise is to set aside time for the nurses to speak with their peers through daily group huddles. This allows for better communication and improves resident care outcomes. Facilities can also invest in long term care software that is easy to use and does not require nurses to spend a significant amount of time behind a screen. After all, one of the biggest reasons people enter long term care is the opportunity to engage and interact with seniors. 

3. Show respect to the nursing staff 

Due to the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of nursing, nurses must be given the respect they deserve from management and residents. When nurses feel undervalued and disrespected, it negatively impacts their engagement with residents, and their motivation levels and ultimately negatively impacts resident care outcomes. A way around this is for leaders to be more present on the floor and to always allow for open and free discussion to prevent episodes of miscommunication. 

4. Provide emotional support

High mortality rates, caring for residents with various illnesses, and dealing with verbally or physically abusive residents with dementia are only some of the daily issues nurses face. Therefore, management needs to provide emotional support by organizing counseling services so nurses can speak about their frustrations and challenges in a safe environment.

5. Encourage health and well-being

Due to the physically demanding nature of nursing and the long work schedules, facilities should encourage nurses to maintain healthy habits like snacking on nutritious food and participating in exercise classes. Facilities can also organize nursing home theme days during nursing home week by having an exercise instructor come to the facility to run a yoga or pilates class for the nurses. If these classes prove successful, the facility can make the classes permanent.  

A nurse receiving flowers during the national nursing home week.
National nursing home week is about showing appreciation and thanks for all the hard work nurses do.

Celebrating Nursing Home Week

The past two years have been a trying time for nurses in long term care. The upcoming nursing home week is an opportunity to celebrate their contributions with food, gifts, and themed days. Regardless of the direction management takes, the point is to show genuine appreciation, give thanks, and acknowledge the significance of nurses who make such a difference in residents’ lives and care. After all, running a facility would be impossible without them, let alone providing exceptional care daily. 

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Cindy Wong
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