Originally Published in McKnight's Long Term Care News, June 21, 2013
By Bruce Baron (CEO)
Linda Keith, vice president of operations at Wingate Healthcare, was frustrated. Her assisted living and skilled nursing communities were performing extremely well, but she knew there were opportunities to improve. It seemed lately that many of her meetings included a discussion related to the effects of unplanned staff call outs. Little did Linda know that she was not alone.
In a study of Canadian nurses, researchers found that absenteeism rates among nurses can reach 12%. “The absenteeism cycle is self-perpetuating,” they reported.“Long shifts cause fatigue, which causes absenteeism, which results in the need to fill unexpected absences with overtime hours, which increases shift length, which causes absenteeism”.
Staff callouts are a nursing staff's worst nightmare and are a prime reason that employee turnover for staff schedulers remains at a high level. Staff callouts often happen at the last minute and always at the worst time. Why are they so stressful? Because they generally take 2 to 3 hours to fill, sometimes require negotiation and coercion skills and often end up being covered with someone on overtime.
Luckily, there are low cost, easy-to-use automated systems that can reduce the coverage for staff call outs process from 2 to 3 hours to 10 to 15 minutes and reduce overtime expenses, as well.
For Wingate Healthcare, Linda Keith selected VoiceFriend for their coverage for staff call outs, family and resident reminders and other critical messaging needs. Keith notes, “VoiceFriend has streamlined the call out process from hours to minutes.The coverage for staff callouts process is now more efficient and it has freed up our schedulers to take on more tasks. Danielle Cunho, a staff scheduler at Wingate adds, “I can't imagine going back to the way we used to contact the nursing staff on a one-by-one basis.”
The nightmare has ended – never to return.