The demand will be great for trained nurses in the coming years.
The nursing group within Central Health accounts for 40 per cent of their staffing numbers, including 25 nurse practitioners (NP); 750 registered nurses (RN); 425 licensed practical nurses (LPN) and 237 personal care attendants (PCA).
Mark Gill, director of human resources with Central Health, said while the vacancy numbers for nursing positions can change from day to day, as of Feb. 4, there were 75 RN positions available at all facilities throughout the region. Of these, 20 are full-time positions. The remainder are in a relief capacity.
Gill explained that due to vacation time, various forms of leave and other reasons, relief staff are critical.
“Building a robust pool of relief is where our greatest challenge is,” he said.
Future projections RN
Within the next five years, Central Health forecasts they will need to hire 298 RNs to meet the demand. In 10 years that number is expected to reach 531.
“These (numbers) are largely based on what retirement projections are for existing staff, along with a combined analysis of our general turnover being four to five per cent a year. Then take into account (that) for whatever reasons some people may go on long-term disability or some form of long-term leave and they need to be replaced,” Gill said.
That, coupled with an aging population, means Central Health has to closely examine how they will meet those staffing needs in the future.
“We know with the current labour market, with the declining youth population, coupled with the aging population in general in the province, coupled with an aging workforce — we are into a little bit a perfect storm if you will, in the sense that we are going to need more staff and where those staff are going to come from we don’t have enough youth coming up through to fill those demands,” he said.
Gill noted that in the last calendar year, Central Health hired 53 registered nurses, but they had 35 leave through retirement. That translated into 18 new RNs remaining on staff.
“If we only have 18 new RNs a year we are going to be significantly challenged to increase our numbers by almost 300 in the next five years,” he said.
From the three schools of nursing in the province — two in St. John’s and one in Corner Brook — they graduate between 240-250 RNs per year. Gill said there is a recruitment effort to hire them for Central Health facilities.
“We hired 32 last year of our 53, but our challenge is that in central Newfoundland we don’t have what I like to call a pipeline to practice, because we don’t have a nursing school directly in central,” he said.
See related article on the efforts being undertaken to establish a satellite school of nursing in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Future projections LPN
“We know that Newfoundland’s population is aging faster than any of the other provinces in the country, so demand for long-term care services is going to grow in consort with that,” Gill told TC Media. “That’s certainly an area where we will see an increased demand for the LPN scope of practice.”
The Central Health projections for new staffing hires for LPNs in five years is 216; over 10 years the projected need is 346 hires.
The Centre for Nursing Studies (CNS) is the parent institution for practical nursing education in Newfoundland and Labrador. The CNS brokers its practical nursing program to various campuses of the College of the North Atlantic.
The CNA campus in Grand Falls-Windsor increased the number of spaces for students in September, 2015, from 35 to 50 students.
Gill said the class was full in September, and these students will graduate in April/May of next year. The hope is that many of them will work with Central Health.
“We would support (CNA) in them continuing to offer the program,” Gill said. “With our numbers forecast over the next five years at 216, we are going to need to hire these classes, and just about the full class in most cases.”
The need for additional PCAs has also been identified. Within five years the new staffing hires will be 95 positions and at 10 years that will total 176.
Gill said with Central Health having a focus on client-centered and patient-centered care, these staffing efforts tie into their three strategic issues: access to services, healthy living and client flow.