The concept of universal workers was presented to me by a non-nursing administrator in a LTC. This administrator thought it was a "peachy keen" idea because a worker could do a few hours helping in dietary, a few hours taking care of residents, a few hours working in housekeeping---all in the course of one 8 or 12 hour shift. To me, this seemed like a nightmare, especially in terms of infection control. I have serious concerns about one staff member helping residents get up in the morning then switching off to food preparation or serving food later in the same shift. Passing out prepackaged snacks---that's different. Serving hot food in a dining room----that's a whole 'nuther matter.
Now, the way that it's presented by posters such as CCM, it makes sense. I don't have a problem with someone being cross-trained to various departments, especially in a small LTC that might not have a huge pool of workers from which to choose. It would also be beneficial to workers who need extra hours but can't get them just in one department. But, as CCM said, the "universal worker" would then work only ONE department each shift and not get pulled from one area to another within the same shift. That's common sense and, utilized wisely, the universal worker concept could benefit interested workers and facilities, resulting in higher retention and better quality of care.
I can also see where the concept of universal workers might be useful in ALFs in which the residents would require minimal assistance with their ADL's. It also seems like it could work in ALFs that are divided into small pods.
Anyway, as presented by this administrator, the concept of universal workers in LTC sounded like yet another way to get by with short staffing various departments because someone could theoretically be "pulled" from one area to another. BTW, that administrator once told me about a "study" that showed how nursing personnel in LTC only spent something like 50% of their time productively. :angryfire Common sense is apparently rather uncommon, at least among some of the PTB.
Thanks for the responses!