Why Staff Management is Critical for Senior Living Facilities

April 18, 2022 Lynne Jackson

In senior care, one factor stands alone distinguishing top facilities from their competition and delivering the highest quality resident care: frontline caregivers.

”Evidence demonstrates that nursing care has a direct impact on the overall quality of services received, and that when registered nurse staffing is optimal, adverse events and costs decline, and overall outcomes improve.” Source: The Institute for Healthcare Improvement 2019.

Frontline caregivers welcome your residents into each new day and see they rest comfortably each night. They support nearly every aspect of your residents’ lives, providing as much or as little help each resident needs. When a medical emergency happens, these nurses sound an alarm and ensure the residents gets the care they need.  

You’ve seen how well trained, dedicated, and engaged frontline staff help residents feel content and comfortable even in most trying situations. And you don’t take it for granted. You know taking care of others challenges even the most dedicated workers. When employees are overwhelmed, ill-prepared, or poorly matched with resident needs, they get discouraged and quality of care diminishes. Then your residents and your reputation suffer.

When this scenario turns into a trend, it damages your bottom line. You:

  • Lose business
  • Receive smaller Medicare reimbursements
  • Pay higher insurance rates.

Meanwhile employee turnover rises and you have a harder time attracting new hires. Check out this McKnights article to learn more.

Staff management software improves quality care

Staff management software can help you overcome the pain inflicting long-term care and senior living  facilities across the country. Also referred to as workforce management, staff management software empowers senior care facilities with the tools they need to drive quality care up and labor costs down.

Staff management software improves quality care without raising costs by addressing the underlying factors contributing to ineffective staffing,

”Determining the right number and type of nursing staff required to meet patient care needs historically is viewed as the foundation of workforce management systems.” Source: The Institute for Healthcare Improvement 2019.

In fact, innovative staff management software deploys sophisticated analytics to expose unnecessary labor expenses and provides options to thwart their reoccurrence. See how Excelerate cut overtime costs by 30%.

Effective scheduling lies at the heart of staff management software. Senior care facilities must keep the right people in the right positions, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, staffing needs can change day to day as the resident population and their needs change. Assisted living and skilled nursing facilities must do more than assign a specific number of people to work, they must also adjust the number and skills of employees to meet fluctuating demands.

How to overcome your biggest staffing obstacles with staff management software

Unfortunately, legacy staff management approaches still dominate industries, which rely on hourly employees.

“In 2025, 60% of large enterprises with hourly paid workers and variable demand for labor will still be using mostly manual (non-automated) scheduling approaches.” Source: Gartner Report Market Guide for Workforce Management Applications in 2019.

These legacy systems and manual approaches cannot adjust staffing to meet real world needs. As a result, long-term care and senior living facilities can’t afford business as usual when it comes to staff management. Instead, they must relinquish these old school approaches and deploy staff management software that can keep qualified caregivers where residents need them.

Those who refuse will jeopardize resident care amid widespread staffing shortages.

“The mortality rate for understaffed units is 6% higher than their fully staffed counterparts.” Source: The New England Journal of Medicine.

 A UCLA study states increasing the number of RNs and hours of nursing care per patient could save 6,700 lives and 4 million days of patient care in hospitals each year.

Finding staff to fill in every time someone calls out may be tough. But keeping properly skilled employees in the right positions and enabling them to handle every new issue is truly daunting.


Use staff management software to proactively create schedules

Generic staff management software helps fill some gaps but cannot effectively schedule long-term care and senior living facilities because it cannot quickly adjust to changing resident populations and acuity needs.

To effectively schedule facilities, you need staff management software designed for long-term care, post-acute care, and senior living facilities that addresses your scheduling challenges and compliance demands.

You can further your scheduling efficacy by choosing staff management software with proactive or predictive scheduling. Proactive scheduling eases administrator burdens and helps prevent scheduling gaps as well as create schedules for dozens of facilities in minutes. 

Predictive scheduling proactively defines the appropriate staffing level based on the number of residents, resident acuity, and regulatory demands. Administrators can easily create and modify schedules to support changing PPD values. Predictive scheduling also enables administrators to determine staffing levels in advance. See how Trilogy optimized schedules for 110 facilities. Staff management software with proactive scheduling can:

  • Support the precise resident population
  • Automatically adjust to resident acuity when residents need more care
  • Always maintain the proper ratio of nurses, certified nursing assistants, and medical staff in compliance with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Staff management software reduces costs

Scheduling for optimum care fulfills only part of the quality equation. Every day you experience unexpected employee absences and tardiness that compromise even the best schedules. Many administrators deliberately overstaff their facilities to handle unexpected shortages. Others rush to fill gaps by offering extra hours to select employees, which often leads to overtime and favoritism. When the shortages continue, they call agency workers to fill the gaps.

These reactive techniques drain the budget without improving quality. Overworked or unfamiliar workers are less likely to deliver high quality care.  

Long-term care and assisted living facilities must close staffing gaps before they impact resident care. Doing so requires staff management software that integrates attendance management, time tracking, and scheduling data. The software must also provide real-time alerts when scheduling gaps occur and help administrators close the gaps quickly.

Integrated staff management software can continually share attendance and scheduling data on one platform. Some staff management software can provide at-a-glance views of live attendance and scheduling data across all facilities on one console. Administrators can immediately identify problems and drill down for deeper analysis. In addition, staff management software should track key performance indicators (like scheduling) and automatically alert administrators when a KPI falls below its thresholds.

Prevents overtime

In addition to receiving real-time alerts, you need to know how to quickly solve the problems. Staff management software, like SmartLinx, automatically presents a list of employees qualified to fill each scheduling gap without incurring overtime hours. SmartLinx can also accommodate unique facility rules, union and internal policies. In one click, you can offer a shift to employees in their preferred communication method, such as email, text, or mobile  app. You're notified when employees respond. Discover how Oriole Health Care slashed overtime costs by 30%.

Staff management software with business analytics can identify inefficiencies and performance trends that are increasing costs. For example, you can use SmartLinx to spot violations to your attendance policies, buddy punching, early and late punching and more. Check out SmartLinx Spotlight to learn more.

Staff management software boosts reputations and reimbursements

Senior care facilities, especially those that rely on skilled nursing, are subject to various local, state, and federal regulations. Most regulations promote quality resident care by defining the employees needed to care for various resident populations and acuity needs. Staff management software helps you meet these demands by scheduling the right employees in the right positions and tracking their attendance.  

Although staff management software supports compliance, facilities struggle to staff properly amid the nursing shortage. In fact, most skilled nursing facilities fail to consistently meet Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements.

According to a July 2019 study by Harvard and Vanderbilt University researchers, 75% of nursing homes do not fully comply with the required level of nursing staff.

Failing to comply with CMS staffing regulations damages a facility’s CMS Five-Star Rating, which in turn hurts their reputation and decreases their per patient Medicare reimbursements. Integrated staff management software can help maintain staffing compliance by providing:

  • Consolidated dashboards that track the real-time staffing status of each facility 
  • At -a-glance views that let administrators quickly determine the units that need staff
  • Real-time notifications when a unit or facility falls out of compliance

Demonstrates compliance on demand

Meeting required staffing levels fulfills only part of compliance requirements. Skilled nursing facilities must submit Payroll-Based Journal reports every quarter.

Compliance reporting processes and user involvement vary between staff management software systems. Some staff management software systems require administrators manually collect and export data. Although this process can meet submission requirements, it lacks auditability.

Innovative staff management software/payroll-based journal systems, like SmartLinx, automatically track compliance data across facilities. Administrators can view compliance data on demand and can rapidly generate reports. This makes compliance reporting quick and easy. Learn how staff management software how Greek American proved compliance in minutes.

Staff management software improves employee productivity

When you give employees what they need to better manage their work and their lives, you increase their productivity and engagement.

“Engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work — highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. Engaged workers also are more likely to stay with their employers.” Source: Gallup

Staff management software, like SmartLinx, improves productivity by giving employees access to self-scheduling capabilities and key information such as timecards and paystubs from their mobile device. Since healthcare employees often work rotating shifts in different units, they appreciate a mobile-friendly staff management app that helps them show up in the right department at the right time.

“85 percent of engaged employees displayed a genuinely caring attitude toward patients, compared to only 38 percent of disengaged employees while 91 percent of engaged employees recognize their workplace as dedicated to patient care, compared to only 42 percent of disengaged employees.” Source: HR Solutions

In addition to providing anytime, anywhere access to key resources, SmartLinx staff management software enables workers to:

  • Initiate shift swaps with qualified co-workers
  • Request time off
  • Access earned pay without waiting for payday
  • Fix missed and inaccurate punches
  • Download paystubs
  • Update personal employee data

When employees need a paystub to apply for credit, they can use their SmartLinx staff management software app to get it. Instead of calling out sick when an unexpected problem happens, employees can swap shifts with a qualified co-worker. These conveniences go a long way in engaging employees and helping them feel appreciated.  

Learn How to Use a Mobile Workforce Management App to Improve Productivity.

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