The Impact of Worker Health on Long Term Care

Generally, absenteeism is the most often used measure of work productivity. Absenteeism occurs when a worker stays home because she is sick or having a health problem. But presenteeism—which occurs when a worker comes to work but cannot fully meet the demands of the job—is more costly to an organization, accounting for 60 to 75 percent of lost productivity. In long-term care facilities, with their mandated minimum staffing levels, worker presenteeism negatively affects the quality of resident care.

Among the major causes of presenteeism and reduced productivity:

  • Arthritis and chronic pain, such as musculoskeletal and back pain, as well as occupational injuries.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders including irritable bowel syndrome and gastro esophageal reflux disease.
  • Mental health disorders, most notably depression, which decreases concentration and contributes to accidents.
  • Obesity and its effects on worker limitations.

Long-term care nurse managers can decrease the impact of presenteeism on care quality by confidentially discussing concerns with workers and helping them access resources and assistance. Nurse managers also must play an active role in assuring safety on the job. By doing so, they can improve care in their facility—and support the health and quality of life of the direct care workforce.