Numerous studies have documented the impact that assisted living environments can have on residents, but what impact do these environments have on staff? A recent study indicates that a number of factors, ranging from workspace layout to temperature, influence staff productivity. The researchers surveyed medical and non-medical staff from various assisted living facilities, and participants responded to questions about how characteristics of their indoor environment influenced productivity, workplace satisfaction, and environmental sustainability.
Not surprisingly, staff productivity was strongly related to satisfaction with workspace layout and cleanliness of the facility. Adequate space for work, meetings, and filing appeared to have an impact on productivity, as did a layout that facilitates interaction among coworkers and residents. The authors recommended facility design that “promotes collaboration among coworkers, encourages communication between the care workers and the residents, and maximizes privacy for the residents.”
Cleanliness factors that influenced productivity included problems with spills and debris, as well as trash cans getting too full and not being emptied overnight. Spills and debris pose obvious hazards that can impact productivity, while full trash cans may be more of a source of inconvenience which can increase time on task if employees have to search for an empty trash can.
Indoor air quality and acoustic quality also had an impact on staff productivity. Namely, satisfaction with stuffiness, cleanliness, and smell of the air were air quality concerns, while noise level and sound privacy were acoustic quality concerns that influenced productivity. Other notable factors related to productivity were temperature in staff areas, and adequate light and visual comfort in staff and public areas.
To provide the best possible care for residents, assisted living staff need to be able to perform their duties well, and addressing environmental factors is an important step. Resident needs should take priority, but needs of the staff should not be ignored.