Seven Workforce Management Benefits Senior Care Can't Thrive Without

May 4, 2020 Lynne Jackson

Taking care of seniors can be immensely rewarding and endlessly complex. You strive to deliver quality care for each resident while juggling growing staffing, financial, and regulatory constraints. The ongoing nursing shortage and high employee turnover make it even more difficult to provide quality care at reasonable costs.

Workforce management systems help by streamlining everyday staffing operations, so you have more time to devote to the most vital part of your job—caring for residents. Here are seven benefits a workforce management solution can offer a senior care facility.

1.      Employee self-scheduling options

Creating and managing schedule changes for senior care and senior living facilities can be inefficient and frustrating. Many facilities rely on a paper-based system or rudimentary spreadsheets. You know how tedious and error prone this process is. Before creating schedules, schedulers must determine each employee’s availability and match it to internal policies and qualifications needed for each shift. Then they must get approvals from management.  With each round of changes, the likelihood of mistakes increases.

Even when administrators finally approve a perfect schedule that supports each resident’s needs and internal policies, they cannot rest in a job well done. Because in senior care facilities, employee schedules and resident needs change constantly. 

When you staff three shifts a day every day, you’re bound to face unexpected changes. Employees call out or show up late. In addition, resident needs can change, requiring more specialized care and more schedule changes. Inefficient processes make staffing an ongoing struggle. Imagine how much easier it would be when employees can access and adjust their schedules anytime.

Empower and engage employees to fix staffing issues

Empowering nurses to swap shifts with one another prevents lingering open shifts and increases employee engagement.  

After all, no one likes the out-of-control feeling of having to fill out forms and wait around for approvals. You can eliminate these frustrations with a workforce management system that lets nurses initiate shift swaps and administrators see and approve them in near real time. Open shifts are filled in moments without hassles. And by increasing engagement this way, you can also lower absenteeism and raise productivity.

Overall, the right approach to workforce management provides for senior care staff the scheduling tools they need to work efficiently.

2.      Mobile workforce management capabilities

Mobile workforce management enables you to drive more efficiency and reduce operational costs. For example, think about how cumbersome it is to use a paper-based system to manage paid time off (PTO) and schedule changes is. Employees must physically drop off paperwork and check back for responses. It’s no less onerous for administrators who process the changes and notify staff of responses and scheduling changes.  

Premier workforce management systems automate many of these routine processes. But they don’t all do it the same. Generic workforce management systems can automate basic processes but are difficult for senior care administrators to configure and navigate. Administrators must hunt and peck their way through irrelevant screens to find the information they need.

When you use a workforce management system designed for senior care and senior living, you can find what you need at first glance. Adding mobile capabilities takes this convenience to a new level.  Not only do you avoid paperwork delays, you promote real-time, two-way communication with your staff. Employees can find what they need anytime, anywhere so they don’t need to take time away from residents.

Using a mobile device app also lets staff keep up with changes on the go. They can check their schedules, requests, and see notifications wherever they are. This mobile connectivity makes it much easier to fill open shifts with qualified staff. In turn, this reduces overtime charges.

Remember, not everyone communicates the same way. It’s essential to use a workforce management system that lets employees choose how they want to be notified of open shifts, new schedules, request approvals and more. Some prefer emails. Others may prefer texts or in-app notifications. Giving employees their choice boosts engagement and efficiency.

 

3.      Proactive compliance with on-demand reports

Keeping compliant is a considerable responsibility for long-term and post-acute care facilities. Not only are state and federal regulations demanding and complex, but they’re also constantly changing.

Staffing to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements requires administrators or the workforce management system continually modify staff schedules to support changing resident populations and their healthcare needs. They must also ensure only staff with specific qualifications handle designated responsibilities. Sadly, most facilities fall short of CMS nurse scheduling requirements.

In a July 2019 study, researchers from Harvard and Vanderbilt universities concluded 75% of nursing homes do not fully comply with the required level of nursing staff.

Even when they get staffing nailed down to support all compliance requirements. Administrators must create and submit Payroll-Based Journal reports to meet compliance requirements. Lack of accurate, timely reporting also affects a facility’s Five-Star Rating. Which, in turn, their reputation, Medicare reimbursements and insurance costs — and, ultimately, the facility’s overall success. Understandably, without robust reporting abilities that enable you prove on compliance on demand, you risk non-compliance.

Collecting compliance information from multiple scheduling and attendance systems is time consuming and error prone.  However, creating reports that show proper workforce management for senior care doesn’t need to be onerous. An integrated system tailored to your requirements makes compliance stress free and straightforward.

With all the workforce data in one place, an integrated workforce system can generate customized reports on demand in minutes. The ideal system allows for reporting by:

  • per patient day
  • by the hour
  • by division
  • or by the facility

Customized reporting allows you to stay compliant and adjust for changes in real time. See how a post-acute care facility reduced Payroll-Based Journal reporting from days to minutes.

4.      Auditable records, automatically generated

Every quarter, you submit Payroll-Based Journal reports to CMS that demonstrate your commitment to properly staffing your facilities. You may spend several hours or days collecting each facility’s staffing and attendance information, knowing its impact on your business.  Despite your best efforts, you may be ill-prepared to achieve the Five-Star Rating you desire.

State and federal regulators often conduct surprise compliance audits. You carefully compiled reports may not help you pass them. Although CMS hasn’t revealed what their compliance audits will entail if they’re anything like many state inspections, they’ll require operators demonstrate staffing compliance and the underlying data for any given day.

If your current workforce management system requires administrators collect, enter, or export data, you could have a hard time passing a CMS inspection. When officials can’t readily audit these records on the fly, they often assume your facility was noncompliant. Time limits are used to ensure you don’t have enough time to create new reports.

To pass an audit, senior care facilities must ensure they can quickly produce records. A single, integrated workforce management system designed for senior care lets you easily access this information. You can pull up the hours submitted for a specific facility, unit and timeframe in minutes. This ability is vital for the auditor’s confidence in your facility while alleviating the pressure on administrators.

5.      Real-time scheduling and attendance tracking

Unless it fully integrates scheduling and attendance, workforce management software cannot track attendance and expose scheduling gaps in real time. This means you can only spot problems after the fact. To deliver cost-effective, quality care and stay compliant, you must respond promptly to absences, overtime, and scheduling changes. Disparate systems require you to view the information in pieces, which means you won't be able to respond to changes until it’s too late.

To get the information you need, your workforce management system must schedule and track attendance in real time. However, many systems don’t exchange live attendance and scheduling data. Instead, they send batch reports every few hours. You must review the report against the schedule to spot absences and then rush to fill the gaps.

When your time tracking and scheduling systems are fully integrated, you can spot a staffing need in an instant. You can even see other key performance indicators (KPIs), such as which employees are nearing overtime. That way, you can make more informed decisions as well as adjust schedules to fit your need.

More advanced workforce management systems also present you with a list of qualified workers who are available to fill the gap without running into overtime.

6.      Improvements to Five-Star Ratings

A good Five-Star Rating boosts your bottom line in more ways than one. It translates into higher growth as families, residents, and doctors seek out and recommend your facility. In addition, Medicare bases its per-resident reimbursements on your Five-Star Rating while investors use it as a basis for lending decisions.

Due to the growing influence of Five-Star Ratings in long-term senior care, any change to your rating can have a dramatic effect on your business.  But staying on top of the requirements isn’t easy.

Three measurements contribute to your Five-Star Rating: staffing, quality, and inspection. Of the three, staffing is the most challenging. Workforce management solutions for senior care make the process easier by using prediction algorithms and real-time staffing data. These algorithms also forecast how your senior care facility will rank based on your recent history and your current staffing. They can also alert you when your staffing level falls below what you need to get your desired rating and how to improve it. This real-time tracking also allows you to see trends and adjust the work schedule to achieve the rating your facility deserves.

7.      Advanced analytics that reduce costs and overtime

Like most healthcare organizations, labor costs represent the largest expense in senior care facilities. And without the ability to track expenses in real-time, you can’t prevent issues (such as overtime) until days, or even weeks, after incurring the expense. When the same process keeps repeating itself, your labor costs soar.

A workforce management system with advanced analytics helps you find out where you’re spending unnecessarily. Analytics also assemble data and create predictions based on your KPIs, so you can identify and address issues as they develop. For example, you can spot trends at a glance and drill down for more information. You’ll always know what units are understaffed and which ones are overstaffed. The result is you can better allocate resources, avoid compliance violations and prevent overtime and overstaffing costs.

Workforce management for senior care

How you handle senior care workforce management can make all the difference. Be sure to choose workforce software designed for senior, long-term, and post-acute care. The ideal system will include customized reporting, real-time tracking, and analytics. These powerful benefits will help you make the most informed decisions for your facility.

 

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