It’s no secret that staffing for skilled nursing facilities is more difficult than ever before. With a limited supply of caregivers and nurses, inefficient scheduling practices, and increasing numbers of aging adults needing care, it’s no wonder that facilities are struggling to keep up.
They are increasingly relying upon staffing agencies to keep shifts full. But this unexpected and unpredictable expense is becoming a threat to many skilled nursing operators. Bill rates continue to rise, and so much time is wasted with outdated communication methods like email, phone calls, and text messages to find and book staff. Worse yet, with agency billing often 30-90 days late, and no real-time data, operators are left ill-equipped to manage a healthy budget.
Here are 5 ways to reduce your staffing agency spend this month (while keeping shifts full).
1. Open up communication with your permanent staff
Nurses, caregivers, and staff are the lifeblood of a skilled nursing facility. That’s why it’s critical to keep them informed with staffing updates and shift availability. As shifts become available, it should be your permanent staff who are notified first.
Some scheduling tools have built in shift notification capabilities. That way, as you come across open shifts you can easily notify your permanent staff without manual texts and emails. Still using spreadsheets to schedule? Try storing those spreadsheets in a shared drive and allowing your permanent staff to have access to streamline communication.
2. Curate a float pool
This is a great option for an operator with multiple facilities within close proximity. Create a roster of nurses and caregivers that are interested in flexing their time across different locations. When shifts can’t be filled with your permanent staff, notify that float pool or schedule a caregiver from another facility. This reduces both overtime usage for permanent staff, keeps underutilized staff busy, reduces the need for agency staff, and saves money.
Another added bonus? The nurses and caregivers in your float pool will be trained to your standards and familiar with your facility operations, making them more efficient and effective when on shift.
3. Start tracking agency usage and spend today
As the old adage goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Oftentimes, facilities are only receiving invoices and complete staffing agency usage 30-90 days after the fact. At that point, it’s too late to make adjustments to your staffing strategy.
Explore an automated agency management solution like Kevala. In one place and in real-time, you can see current staffing agency usage and spend, track key metrics, and monitor trends.
However you decide to track agency usage and spend, start now. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to spot trends and make adjustments to your operations that allow you to reduce reliance on agencies.
4. Drive competition between agencies
To be human is to be flawed. So, the truth is that when you’re using humans to staff humans into shifts it will never be perfect. At some point, you will need to rely on the flexibility and speed of your partner agencies to keep shifts full.
Take control of agency staffing by leveraging competition between your favorite agencies to find the best staff and drive costs down. The best way to do this? Use an agency management system like Kevala.
With Kevala, scheduling coordinators can broadcast open shifts to a wide range of talent including their favorite staffing agencies, internal float pools, or even Kevala’s own Care Network. Caregivers and agencies, in an effort to earn the booking, will move quickly to submit their interest and availability. When they see open shifts getting snapped up by others, they’ll try even harder.
The facility scheduler is then able to compare all of the applicants in one place. With information like performance ratings, shift history, and bill rate, the scheduler can choose the applicant that’s best suited for the shift.
The added bonus of a software solution here? No more manual back and forth with emails, phone calls, and texts to find someone and validate credentials. Automated workflows and timely notifications keep agencies and schedulers apprised of shift requests and confirmations, with all information in one central place.
5. Create a stellar permanent staff experience
Nothing is more powerful than getting to the root of a problem. And while this last tip may not actually decrease your agency spend this month, it’s a worthwhile investment that will pay dividends in years to come.
Create an environment where your staff want to stay. That includes providing the range of support that they need (professional, health, and wellness), keeping shifts full to avoid burnout, creating a positive and team-oriented culture, open and honest communication, and adopting technologies and systems that are easy to use and alleviate the burden of administrative tasks.
Don’t be afraid to create partners in your staff who will advocate for the betterment of the facility and remain committed to their team, their patients, and the business for years to come.
In a time when there are so many things outside of your control when it comes to healthcare staffing, take advantage of those opportunities to drive positive change in your facility. Through the implementation of these 5 strategies and the adoption of new, innovative technology like Kevala, you can reduce your agency reliance and discover the power of a flexible workforce that works for you.
Kevala is an agency management software and supplemental staffing provider, developed in 2020 to help solve the healthcare staffing crisis. With Kevala, facilities have the power to share open shifts with any pool of talent from staffing agencies, float pools, or even Kevala’s own Care Network. Users have access to scheduling, timesheets, staff credentials, and insightful, real time dashboards, all in one place.
Learn more at https://www.kevala.care/get-started.