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A “Culture of Care” Keeps a Skilled Nursing Provider Thriving

An inspiring article in McKnight’s Senior Living spotlights one long-term care provider — Foundations Health Solutions, based in North Olmsted, Ohio — which has managed to weather the pandemic without the upsurge in staff turnover that has affected so much of the industry.

How did they win the ongoing battle for better recruitment and retention? With a “culture of care” that existed even before COVID-19 took hold, said Robert Speelman Jr., the company’s vice president of business development and culture.

Foundations Health Solutions, which runs 59 skilled nursing facilities throughout Ohio, revised its mission statement a few years ago to include the following key principle: “a strong employee culture which places priority and resources on the direct caregiving team.” Since then, its turnover rate has dropped from roughly 60% to about 30%.

So what does this culture of care look like in practice? Listening to workers’ needs and feedback is a foremost priority. Corporate leaders take time to engage in dialogue with employees on the front lines — to learn what’s working and what isn’t, and what the company could be doing better. As a result, team members feel heard and respected.

To prevent against pandemic burnout, Foundations has introduced morale-boosting activities for its staff, like making them breakfast, and encouraged workers to communicate with one another and seek support and solidarity across the provider’s many facilities.

There’s also a mobile app, of course, which helps too. Each facility can post pictures and kudos for team members, as well as creative suggestions for administrators to consider implementing. A blog and newsletters enhance the robust sense of communication and collaboration.

For employees who wish to further their education, Foundations Health Solutions provides them with full tuition reimbursement toward college degrees. Thirty-six staff members have gone through nursing school so far thanks to this program.

“It’s not all about the money,” Speelman said, speaking of the company’s remarkably low turnover rate when compared with the rest of the industry. “It’s about the people.”

Indeed. Even once the pandemic is behind us, other long-term care providers would do well to take some pages from Foundations’ playbook — and work to build a culture of care, compassion, and connection not only for residents and patients, but for employees as well.

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