New rapid response teams rolled out by state health officials in Michigan are meant to help assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities in Michigan hit by staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is offering short-term (120 hours or less) rapid response staffing statewide to help assisted living communities, nursing homes, homes for the aged and adult foster care homes. 

Facilities are able to request up to five staff per shift, including one registered nurse or licensed practical nurse and one social worker. Facilities can fill remaining slots with certified nursing assistants, resident care assistants and other direct care workers; dietary aids and dietary cooks, and environmental services staff.

Staffing resources support long-term care facilities based on facility and resident needs but are prepared to assist with activities of daily living, infection prevention and environmental cleaning. Temporary staff are vetted by staffing contractors, including a criminal background check and a licensure check, before being assigned to a facility.

Assisted living communities must meet certain criteria to request emergency staffing. For instance, 40% or more of scheduled staff must have missed two consecutive shifts, and those absences must be unrelated to a strike or labor dispute. Facilities also must exhaust their other options before seeking assistance, including requesting backup support from other sister facilities, from other areas of the company or from management staff.

The program initially launched in July and offered 72 hours or less of consecutive staffing assistance and was restricted to 11 counties. In September, Michigan expanded the program statewide and added additional hours, as well as staffing options. Guidance was updated Oct. 30.