To recruit new employees into senior care, the key approach is using creativity and offering flexibility, according to Bette McNee, RN, a senior clinical risk management consultant at Graham Company, one of the country’s largest insurance brokers. 

Based on her daily experience advising clients in long-term care, McNee suggests several strategies for how facility administrators can combat the worrisome trend of nursing home staff turnover.

“Senior care workers are still navigating a challenging situation,” McNee told McKnight’s Business Daily. “Depending on where they live, some children are in school full time, some are at home, and others are doing a combination of both. Schools and daycares are still closing in the event there is a COVID-19 exposure within the building. All of these factors affect the dependability of caregivers.”

To help ensure coverage is met, schedulers at senior living and care facilities must work closely and communicate often with their teams to determine caregiver needs, so they can be discussed with human resources. Typically, caregivers and charge nurses work five days a week and every other weekend, taking two days off during the week for their weekend, McNee noted. But that’s not set in stone, so it’s important for administrators to be flexible, to help recruit and retain staff. 

“Because of the varying school schedules and home challenges, in some cases, working three 12-hour shifts or two double shifts and one regular shift a week will work better than five shifts per week,” she noted. A better option for some might be a three- or four-day job share per week so that days off are easily covered by the other. 

“The best solution is the one that works for all team members,” she said.

McNee also noted that another helpful strategy might be having tiers for per diem staff. For example, the more shifts per diem staff work per pay period, the higher their pay rate per hour.

“This encourages per diem staff to proactively find shifts to work and not call out,” she noted.

The reality, she said, is that flexibility to “make your own schedule” is appealing to applicants, and encouraged operators to consider one of the many new scheduling apps that allow caregivers to create their own schedule, as long as they meet their minimum shift requirements.

“I do believe one result of the pandemic will be that a new and improved version of long-term care will emerge,” she said. “But to recruit new employees into senior care, the key approach is using creativity and offering flexibility.”