The vacancy for ‘geriatric specialist’ remained unfilled at Woonzorggroep Samen in Schagen for over a year. Caroline Beentjes, one of the company’s directors, could see this was increasing pressure on the other specialists and turned to Accezz. “This was my third programme with Accezz, so I knew they would be able to help. Their intervention allowed us to organise work processes more conveniently, with nursing specialists and primary care physicians being assigned specific tasks and responsibilities.This created space and helped streamline everything”.
Workload or work pressure
“It’s a wonderful profession. You’re giving meaning and dignity to the last phase of a person’s life,” says Nienke Broekhoven, geriatric specialist for rehabilitation and treatment at Woonzorggroep Samen. “Although rehabilitation is really an extension of the hospital, our work involves so much more. It’s not only about care; it also entails making a positive contribution to overall well-being. We look at how we can make things as pleasant as possible for each person, especially where it concerns long-term care. It really is ‘people’ work!” Since the programme with Accezz, Nienke has been able to concentrate more on long-term goals and the medical aspects of her role: “Because work arrangements are now better defined, I have more time to develop as a professional in my own field. I can immerse myself in the medical side of the job again, for example by participating in various working groups, such as hygiene and infection prevention. I’m able to focus on the quality of care and that makes me feel inspired. It also provides peace of mind as I don’t have to be continually putting out fires.” At Woonzorggroep Samen, work processes are complex. Under Accezz’s supervision, staff members identified all activities, agreements and information flows. Although admission and discharge procedures in rehabilitation were especially complicated, by introducing a better structure it has become much clearer who does what and who is ultimately responsible. “We used to operate in isolation, on our own little islands,” says Nienke. She adds, “By making processes transparent, everyone’s role has become clear. Once you have a grip on your work load and what is expected of you, perceived work pressure is reduced. And that’s a very good starting point for improvement.”
Cogs in a machine
When you turn one cog in a wheel, the whole machine is set in motion. This was certainly the case at Woonzorggroep Samen. A change in working methods automatically led to a change in behaviour. “During multi disciplinary meetings, we are able to hold each other accountable for tasks that have not been carried out. It’s not that we weren’t previously open to each other. However, we now know exactly where a work process is stalling and who is responsible because processes and agreements are clear,” says Nienke. “We all agreed in advance that we wanted to do this and that holding each other accountable was part of the job. So, it never results in any awkward feelings,” Nienke continues. Caroline Beentjes adds, “This shift in culture is now apparent well beyond the group of specialists that Accezz focused on. All specialisms were involved in the process, especially nursing and the primary care physicians. But we’ve seen the impact of the programme spread across the entire organisation like ripples on water, not least in terms of how people work and interact. It’s had very positive results.”
Solution for the labour shortage
Healthcare organisations across the Netherlands find it difficult to fill vacancies. At Woonzorggroep Samen, however, Accezz tackled the labour shortage by defining and managing work processes, tasks and responsibilities differently and more clearly. Accezz’s approach ensures that fewer hours are needed to do the same job. And the result? No vacancies, or certainly not as many! So, has the vacancy at Woonzorggroep Samen been scrapped? “No, it’s still open. A geriatric specialist has moved on since the original vacancy was advertised. We are therefore still looking for one,” says Beentjes. There is often resistance to change processes, but this was not the case at Woonzorggroep Samen: everyone put their shoulder to the wheel. An atmosphere of security, trust and motivation ensured a smooth process and helped maintain job satisfaction. Or, as Caroline Beentjes describes it: “Schagen is an undiscovered gem in the Netherlands, which certainly helps create a positive outlook. But, ultimately, it is our organisational culture and our clients that help foster a healthy workplace mentality whereby we look out for each other.”