Three Things to Keep Agency Staff Returning to a Healthcare Facility

The need for staffing support through agencies has been a constant in the healthcare industry, and the onset of Covid has exacerbated that need. With some healthcare professionals, or HCPs, fearful of contracting Covid or passing it on to a family member, healthcare facilities that never used staffing in the past find themselves in a dire situation. But some communities are better at welcoming agency personnel than others. In a post-Covid era, retention and engagement of all staff is going to be more important than ever for a healthcare facility to stay competitive. Providing high quality, patient-centered care will require communities to offer information and resources to agency personnel if they want them to choose to return on a regular basis. There are a lot of options for CNAs and Nurses in the gig economy, and communities that do these three things will attract consistent talent:

1. Make a great first impression. Imagine arriving to your first day at a new job and nobody greets you or shows you where to store your personal belongings. You know you have the skills to do the job and you’re confident in your abilities, but you don’t know where to start.

When you use an agency with software, it will alert you to whether an HCP has been to the building or if it is a first shift. Consider having a greeter or Nursing Supervisor welcome staff upon entering the community. If someone cannot be available, consider displaying a helpful checklist in the lobby to guide them on where to go. Think of the professional as a guest in your home and make them feel welcome and appreciated!

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2. Acclimate them to your facility. ShiftMed employs thousands of HCPs across the nation and our recent surveying found that acclimating agency employees to your facility is one of the most impactful ways to keep them returning. They are especially concerned about knowing the following when arriving to work a shift:

  • Where are the supplies and what resources are available to me to provide care?
  • Where are the showers and the bath towels if a nursing aide will be assisting with bathing?
  • Where are the toileting supplies?
  • Where are the clean linens in case a bed is soiled and needs to be changed?
  • Where should the HCP place his/her belongings for safe keeping during the shift?
  • How does the HCP reach the agency with a concern during the shift?
  • What is the maximum number of patients an HCP can expect to be assigned?
  • Where is the restroom/break room and is there a code needed to enter?

3. Explain who they should report to. Reporting structures are important in every organization, and they should be clear to agency staff upon arrival. Agency staff are instructed to check in and out with a Nursing Supervisor, so they need to know where to find the supervisor before and after the shift. It should also be clear who is managing the building during the shift in case an issue needs to be reported. If possible, introduce agency staff to the Scheduling Coordinator and the Director of Nursing so they have an opportunity to meet in person. These introductions can help form relationships which will lead staff to feel welcome and appreciated.Consider providing the following information at the beginning of a shift:

  • Who is the person to go to with questions or concerns?
  • Is the nursing supervisor the main contact person?
  • Is there a mentor or buddy that can help if there is a question or a concern?
  • Where will the nursing supervisor be at the end of the shift so the checkout process can be quick and easy?

Basic information provided to agency staff about your building could set you up for regular, consistent support. When agency personnel return to work a consistent schedule, the facility team is supported by professionals who know the building and are familiar with the protocols. Residents are more likely to receive high quality care from an oriented and assimilated HCP. It is best to take the extra few minutes to properly welcome an agency professional for the first shift so you can create a culture that attracts professionals to return time and time again.

Julie Lehrman
Julie Lehrman is vice president of business development at ShiftMed.

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