Staffing is a major hurdle most home care agencies must face daily. It seems like if an agency isn’t working short-staffed, they are never quite fully-staffed and equipped to handle new clients or an emergency situation. It’s frustrating for the agency owners, other caregivers, and even the clients. While there hasn’t been a viable solution to staffing issues within the home care field in decades, real-time staffing is suddenly offering a new way to ensure home care organizations are able to successfully care for their clients without overwhelming their regular staff.
What Is Real-Time Staffing?
Thanks to technological advancements, real-time staffing is now a real possibility for home care agencies. The “Uberization” of caregiving gives health professionals the opportunity to expand their control over who they work for and where while giving agencies access to professionals who are already trained, vetted, and qualified.
Real-time staffing allows agencies to send out staffing requests to available and trained caregivers. The caregivers then receive the notification and have the opportunity to pick up the shift or decline it. Agencies can receive caregivers to cover their requests much faster than if they had to call their PRN roster individually.
Agency Benefits of Real-Time Staffing
Home care agencies who use real-time staffing benefit in multiple ways. Most notably, with the ability to staff cases in real time, home care agencies are able to increase revenue by staffing cases in a fraction of the time and with minimal preparation or staff planning.
Other benefits for the agency can include:
- Decreased turnover of full-time staff as they get the opportunity to take a vacation and recharge while real-time staffing technology covers their shifts
- Quick and effective communication to multiple potential caregivers with only one request
- Increased confidence of discharge planners and other referral professionals who know your home care agency can always meet the needs of new patients
- Better client satisfaction and continuity of care
- Increased retention of full-time staff thanks to reduced short-staff requests
- Less stress when trying to navigate full-time staff call-offs due to illness
- More flexibility to navigate daily staffing issues during “normal” days and during pandemic times
Caregiver Benefits of Real-Time Staffing
Real-time staffing truly benefits everyone, if it is done right. Caregivers can reap the benefits of real-time staffing, giving them the opportunity to pick and choose their own hours. Benefits for caregivers can include:
- Decreased commute time to/from clients
- Control over their own schedule
- Opportunity to pick up additional shifts when they need the extra cash
- Opportunity to choose cases based on their family’s schedule
- Ability to decline shifts when they feel burnt out or when they need a break
Caregivers who work with a home care agency can also see benefits when the agency chooses a real-time staffing model. For example, full-time caregivers can actually get time off when it is approved and not feel bound to pick up more hours when their supervisor calls in a pinch.
The more caregivers benefit from real-time staffing, the more likely they are to continue to make themselves available to open shifts. The more caregivers available in the real-time staffing pool, the easier home care agencies can find qualified staff in their neighborhood.
Real-Time Staffing Solutions to Common Home Care Challenges
Some home care agencies have been slower to come around to trying out real-time staffing solutions because they have a large part-time or PRN pool. Unfortunately, these agencies are missing out on the effective solutions that real-time staffing models offer.
Real-time staffing technology is not only more effective than using a PRN pool or staffing agency, it can also be quicker, less stressful, and even less expensive. Here are just a few ways home care agencies are using real-time staffing to make their business run more smoothly.
Real-time staffing allows agencies to:
- Easily accept new or emergency discharges with a comprehensive care plan
- Fill a missed shift or fill in for a planned vacation among full-time staff
- Spend less time on the phone trying to find coverage for the agency’s schedule and have more time to spend on staff development or client communication
- Find eager caregivers who want to work shorter or less-frequent shifts, which are typically a nightmare to schedule
- Be confident the caregiver who picks up a shift has fulfilled all required training and is ready to communicate effectively with the agency and with the client
- Keep the agency compliant with all state, county, and federal regulatory boards in regards to staff training and communication
- Ensure all care plans and instructions are readily available for any caregiver, and all while still remaining HIPAA complaint
What to Look for When Using Real-Time Staffing Software
If it’s time for your agency to begin using real-time staffing solutions, knowing what to look for in a provider will make the process much easier. When you are choosing a real-time staffing platform, ensure it makes your job easier, and empowers the caregivers who use it as well. Here are just a few features your agency’s real-time staffing platform should include:
Easy Shift Requests
One of the biggest benefits of using real-time staffing solutions is that it makes your life (and your scheduler’s life) a bit easier. Instead of being on the phone calling an extensive PRN pool or working with a third party agency, your scheduler should be able to send out one request for an open shift or case to multiple caregivers in the area. Be sure you are working with a real-time staffing provider that has the capability to take one request and push it out to multiple qualified caregivers.
Utilizing GPS and Location Tracking
Exceptional real-time staffing providers know the importance of location and can leverage GPS data to find caregivers that are most likely to take cases. For example, MedFlyt pushes notifications of available cases to caregivers within a reasonable distance from the client’s home. The team there realizes most caregivers who are too far away will not take the case, and the program cuts out those caregivers from the notification list.
Further, programs that use GPS and location tracking can cluster nearby cases together, offering the full cluster to caregivers in order to maximize their time during the day. This benefits the caregiver by decreasing their commute time and costs.
You don’t always have the time or capability to realize which caregivers are close to overtime hours, which means your agency can end up spending more money on overtime than necessary. Fortunately, real-time staffing programs can keep track of that for you, only offering new cases or clients to caregivers who will not end up in overtime. This is helpful not only for your budget, but also for your caregivers; too much overtime can quickly lead to compassion fatigue and burnout.
If you are trying to staff a new case or shift, you may not always have your current staff schedule in front of you. This means you may waste time calling caregivers who would not be able to take your new case due to an overlapping commitment. Real-time staffing programs can take care of this problem, using an algorithm to ensure only available caregivers receive notifications about a specific case or shift.
Quick Communication with Caregivers
Once a shift request is pushed out to qualified caregivers, it is imperative that the real-time staffing program makes communication with caregivers easy for everyone. For example, if a potential caregiver has a question about an open case, they need to be able to ask it easily and without the hassle of finding an email address or phone number. The MedFlyt app allows the caregiver to communicate with the coordinator immediately, without ever leaving the app itself.
Easy Acceptance of Shifts
Caregivers need to be able to easily see which shifts are available, along with factors that could impact their decision to take the opportunity, such as neighborhood or compensation. Look for a real-time staffing program that caregivers can navigate easily and use filters to find opportunities nearby. Finally, and most importantly, only use a real-time staffing program that makes it easy to accept an open shift and find follow-up instructions once the shift is filled. Without these perks, caregivers will not use the program, rendering it ineffective.
Determining If Real-Time Staffing Is for Your Agency
If your home care agency is not using real-time staffing programs, like the comprehensive app from MedFlyt, you are missing out on the opportunity to connect with caregivers in your area and increase your client care capabilities. If you have experienced any of these situations in the past 2 weeks, it is time to begin making real-time staffing a part of your business plan:
- Had to decline a new client due to not having the staff to take on the hours
- Had to disappoint a referral source because your agency couldn’t take the client they were recommending
- Paid hours in overtime to full-time staff
- Had a caregiver quit due to exhaustion or caregiver fatigue
- Had to have a coordinator, nurse supervisor, or other agency leaders fill in during a shift due to being short-staffed
- Lost a client due to irregular or inconsistent staffing
Now is the time to begin seeing the benefits of real-time staffing for yourself. Get in touch with MedFlyt to schedule a demonstration for your agency today. You’ll wonder why you ever waited as long as you did.
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