Over the past several months, we’ve heard inspiring stories about physicians, nurses and hospital staff members doing honorable work on the frontlines of the pandemic. But in the background, doing work of just as much importance, are other heroes such as the frontline staff members of senior living and care facilities.

These administrators, directors, admissions coordinators, housekeepers, dining workers, maintenance employees, clinical team members and volunteers play integral roles in delivering daily care and services for residents. These professionals offer ongoing emotional and physical support for elders and often are at risk of burnout due to long work hours.

Now, they are feeling increased stress as a result of the pandemic and the restrictions it puts on visitation, making already challenging jobs even more difficult. During these unprecedented times, employers need to show these workers more support than ever before by bolstering benefits and reward practices.

Recognition, recognition, recognition

To further acknowledge employees as they make daily sacrifices on the front lines, and to ensure that they feel valued for their contributions, leadership teams increasingly are relying on employee recognition programs. Appreciation always has been a key part of employee engagement, and with the ongoing pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Employees at organizations investing in strategic recognition and appreciation initiatives have been shown to have 37% higher employee engagement, a factor positively correlated to high-quality resident and patient care.

Every day, as our senior living and care professionals attend to residents’ needs, they put themselves at risk of contracting the virus themselves. These heroes deserve extra appreciation. As a way for employees, residents and family members to express their support, many organizations have implemented publicly accessible social engagement and recognition platforms for their employees. Sharing stories of excellent work and above-and-beyond service can inspire workers to follow their colleagues’ examples and can give them energy to continue delivering the highest quality of care and services.

Well-being benefits

In the senior living and care industry, workers face immense physical and emotional demands. Lifting residents from chairs and beds, assisting them in physical therapy and boosting their spirits are just a handful of the responsibilities employees fulfill every day. These demands can be incredibly taxing for staff members in all areas of a community and, as such, it’s easy for caregivers to prioritize resident care over their own physical and mental wellbeing.

Employers can help. Through a consolidated online platform, organizations can provide easily accessible well-being resources to employees — such as at-home fitness programs, mindfulness videos and mental wellbeing tools — accessible anywhere, any time.

In this “new normal” we’re living in, it’s important for employers to acknowledge the physical and mental stress that these workers are under and offer resources for employee well-being.


Another type of employee well-being to consider is financial well-being, often supported with employee discounts. Many senior living employers offer discounts programs to help workers stretch their paychecks further. By making these discounts easily accessible from home (via mobile app, in-store or online), employees can make the most of their benefits any time. Providing access to these everyday discounts for all employees — and their family members — allows employers to support employees equally, especially when a universal pay raise is not possible. Discounts can help all workers save money while showing that employers care about their well-being.

“Supporting staff and meeting them where they are is very important. As we continue to navigate COVID-19, employee recognition is a key driver of our culture and is increasing visibility of the hard work being done,” says Bob Bourg, senior vice president of human resources at St. Ann’s Community, a 1,200-employee senior housing and health services provider in Rochester, NY. “Recently, we’ve seen 89% of our managers send recognition and 55% of our staff receive recognition, which is helping us form better connections with our people and our elders now and well into the future,” he adds.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it takes an increasing toll on senior living professionals, from administrators to nurses to facility support staff. With this, employers must ensure that they are recognizing and appreciating their employees adequately while providing resources to ensure that workers are engaged and healthy, physically and mentally. When the health of residents and staffers is at risk, aging services providers must work to keep all parties safe and, in turn, ensure that our elders continue to receive the highest quality care and services possible.