Future-Proof Your Workforce: Post-Acute Care Reskilling and Upskilling

The speed of change in healthcare requires post-acute care organizations to take a different approach to job preparedness. Leaders in assisted living, skilled nursing, home health, rehab therapy, wound care, and hospice know you can’t hire all the skills your organization will need tomorrow and in the future. Instead, forward-thinking executives are building work cultures that embrace post-acute care reskilling and upskilling to maximize adaptability.

Reskilling and upskilling can support professionals on your team as they continue to build successful careers and can help leaders like you future-proof your organization.

By arming your care teams with the latest clinical and technical skills and world-class soft skills, you will better prepare them to adapt as needed to meet patients’ future healthcare needs. The results benefit everyone: patients get outstanding care, employees build resilient careers, and your organization thrives.

As you plan your post-acute care reskilling and upskilling program, you’ll need to think through:
• Why you should leverage a continuous learning culture
• The differences between reskilling and upskilling
• How you can create reskilling and upskilling programs in your organization
• How to promote staff resilience through continuous learning

Leverage a Continuous Learning Culture

The benefits of continuous learning are abundant. In a learning culture, engaged care teams embrace:

• Creative problem solving and knowledge sharing
• A strong sense of community
• Innovation
• Faster, more effective crisis response

Providing a coordinated approach to ongoing learning and skills development not only will help your team adapt to future care needs, but also will help you retain valuable talent. The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) found that continuous learning and career development helped the organization improve delivery and quality of care, customer service and satisfaction, and employee retention.

By building your own culture of continuous learning and skill development, your organization can create a stronger foundation for serving your community.

Furthermore, a culture built around learning and upskilling can significantly impact your staffing budget. According to Gallup, replacing exiting staff can cost 50% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary.

Education programs that help with retention can create significant cost savings. They also show your employees that you value them and want to invest in their growth.

According to McKinsey, between 71% and 90% of companies that focus on skills transformation reported a positive impact on the ability to carry out company strategy, achieve employee performance and satisfaction goals, and build their reputation as an employer.

The Difference Between Reskilling and Upskilling

Upskilling and reskilling address self-improvement and an organization’s preparedness to meet future skills needs, but they differ in subtle ways. Upskilling is about learning things that will make employees better at their current jobs and prepare them for advancement while ensuring that the organization is ready to meet future business requirements.

The pandemic has required upskilling on the fly. In 2020, the unique stressors created by the COVID-19 public health crisis led CalVet to deploy multiple classes to deal with coronavirus and the depression and anxiety related to the social isolation it brought. Healthcare professionals had to quickly learn to manage issues beyond what their jobs usually required.

Reskilling, on the other hand, addresses learning completely new skills to prepare for different jobs. Sometimes reskilling is used because a worker wants to change a career trajectory, and sometimes it addresses skills and talent gaps in an organization.

For example, reskilling clinicians to handle home health specializations such as wound care, respiratory therapy, dementia, or diabetes have benefits that add up. These skills can provide a higher level of specialized care for patients, expand the variety of conditions an agency can serve, capture higher Medicare reimbursement, and increase agency profitability.

Create Reskilling and Upskilling Programs

We recommend a well-designed training program for post-acute care education and skills development. Although you may need to tweak the curriculum you select based on your specific requirements, the following steps can provide a framework to help you get started effectively reskilling and upskilling your workers — and creating a continuous learning culture.

Goal Identification

Starting with individual and organizational goals in mind as you design your program is essential. Identify and map current and future skills gaps for each employee. Who needs upskilling, and who may need or want to go down a path of reskilling? Once you understand the goals, it becomes much easier to design individualized training.

Custom Training Program

Having all your staff undergo the same training isn’t going to provide for the needs of individual employees and, in the end, will not serve the business well. Training programs should be customized for individuals to ensure their unique educational needs will be met. To accomplish this at scale, leverage a learning management platform (LMP), which facilitates deploying assessments, creating training plans, and charting progress along multiple learning paths.

Learning Techniques

While multiple approaches can address adult learning, we recommend focusing on three: blended learning, microlearning, and spaced repetition.

Blended learning incorporates both in-person and virtual education.

Microlearning allows learners to receive short and focused bursts of educational material — usually through online modules.

Spaced repetition uses periodic knowledge testing like flash cards or quizzes during training sessions.

Track and Measure Success

To understand the effectiveness of your continuous learning program, you need to track and evaluate performance for job duties and training modules. You also need to solicit feedback from staff members to align and realign your program as needs evolve.

Some methods you can use include:
• Standard skills gap analysis
• Tracking scores from online modules
• Administering satisfaction surveys

Evaluate what worked, what challenges to reskilling and upskilling your staff members face, and what changes are needed to improve the program.

Promote Resilience Through Continuous Learning

Continuous learning improves delivery and quality of care, customer service and satisfaction, and employee retention. By creating a culture that encourages and supports post-acute care staff in reskilling, upskilling, and personal growth, you will have a team of professionals who:

• Are more engaged and satisfied with their jobs
• Offer higher levels of care to patients
• Are loyal to your organization

Healthcare is evolving rapidly, and no organization can afford to ignore the growing educational requirements needed to serve its client population, stay compliant, and help staff grow. A well-designed post-acute care reskilling and upskilling program will help future-proof your organization and ensure it continues to thrive.

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Consulting Writer

Victoria Harres is a seasoned marketer and freelance writer. Her background includes senior positions at YPO, BT, and PR Newswire/Cision. Harres started her career writing web content for Encyclopaedia Britannica when they first joined the internet, and today she writes on topics that touch how people work, including technology, education, wellness, and culture.

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