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Staffing Hack: Rethinking the 8-Hour Shift in Senior Care

August 1, 2017 | Mark Woodka

rethinking-the-8-hr-shift-in-senior-care.jpgI recently wrote an article for Argentum Senior Living Executive Magazine titled “Insights From The C-Suite: The Senior Living Workforce.” In that article, I outlined some of the best practices that came out of a panel discussion on strategies to mitigate current workforce challenges facing the senior living industry. With suggestions ranging from offering employees flexible schedules and splitting up breaks, to providing continuing education opportunities and making people the priority, what became clear during the panel is that openly sharing ideas and strategies with one another is what will move the needle toward retaining employees and reducing turnover. With that in mind, I concluded the article by asking others to share their creative senior care staffing ideas.

I was glad to receive a note in response from Baltimore-based Caritas House Director Robin Rich, who shared some great insights on how her organization is leveraging shorter shifts to reduce stress among her staff.

 “We’ve been bringing in some of our on-call caregivers for shorter, five hour shifts to assist the full-time staff in working with the residents,” Robin explained. “This has made everyone much less stressed out as they care for residents.”

As long-term care providers know, care isn’t administered evenly over the course of a shift. With residents’ broad and varied needs come peaks and valleys that are unavoidable. Incorporating shorter shifts is a clever way to lighten the burden on full-time staff. 

In Robin’s experience, this has proven to be positive for both staff and residents alike. “We’re able to have the PRN work on the same households so that they know the residents better and especially so our residents are comfortable being cared for by people they know,” she said.

I think Robin might be on to something. Senior care employees are looking for flexibility when it comes to when they work and for how long. By offering shorter shifts to employees—anywhere from two to five hours—senior care providers could attract more workers to their communities. Integrating these part-time shifts into the mix will reduce stress for full-time staff, while improving resident care and outcomes.

Thank you to Robin for sharing what is working for her and her staff at Caritas House. Let’s keep the conversation going! If you are using an innovative approach at your organization, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to contact me at mwoodka@onshift.com.

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About Mark Woodka

Mark Woodka is CEO of OnShift and has over 25 years of experience in enterprise software sales and marketing, having worked for startup organizations as well as Fortune 500 companies. He often leverages his extensive background in technology-enabled process improvements speaking at industry conferences as well as authoring articles on long-term care trends and issues.

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