Most senior communities and skilled nursing facilities are still using paper and pencil for scheduling.

This article might be thought of as a success from scratch story. We recently announced that OnShift had teamed up with Senior Housing Forum as a partner. Last week I got a chance to talk with Mark Woodka, the CEO of OnShift, about how the company got started, what they do today and where they see the senior living marketplace going.

New Solutions Reveal New Problems

The big idea for the founders of OnShift was to help senior living communities do a better job of managing last minute staffing needs. The idea was that team members either called in sick or otherwise unavailable to work or, at the last minute, there was an increase in workload and additional staff was needed.What they discovered was that it was taking senior living communities up to three hours to solve this problem and that it was not uncommon for this problem to crop up 2-4 times per week.

What’s more, executive directors or care directors were often the ones scrambling to find replacements or even filling the open position themselves. OnShift’s initial offering in the marketplace was a relatively simple app that automated the whole process through the use of text messaging and automated phone calls. As they went into the marketplace they were surprised to find that most senior communities and skilled nursing facilities were still using paper and pencil for scheduling. While there were non-industry-specific solutions, they were either too difficult to use or too expensive.

A New Solution

This newly discovered problem led to the development of an easy-to-use, cloud-based staff scheduling system with an affordable monthly subscription pay model. They are finding that each year the concept of cloud-based tools gains greater and greater acceptance. While it is always a challenge to get people and companies to move away from something they are accustomed to doing, communities are finding substantial benefits with OnShift’s cloud-based staffing and labor management software. Communities can experience major benefits including:

  1. Acuity and Staffing: OnShift’s scheduling software has the capability to add an acuity component to the community’s staffing needs. This allows communities to accurately assess how they are doing with respect to staffing needs based on both the number of residents and the specific care or service needs of those residents. Schedules are then built and can be adjusted on that actual need.
  1. Overtime: With the common paper and pencil approach, the person doing the scheduling has to rely on paper records and memory to figure out how to juggle all the pieces and all the changes in an effort to reduce or eliminate overtime.  OnShift automatically flags overtime events – before they happen – and can suggest alternative team members thereby avoiding paying overtime.

    On average Onshift finds that before their system is implemented, overtime rates range from 3% to 7%.  When OnShift  is fully utilized their customers have reduced overtime to an average rate of 1.4%.

  1. Visibility:  With manual scheduling approaches or pieced together systems, it’s nearly impossible for executives to get a complete picture of staffing within and across their properties. One provider shared that without OnShift, they had to run 20 reports from 3-4 systems in order to get the visibility and information they need to stay on top of their labor management efforts. With OnShift, executives get predictive analysis and staffing information, right at their fingertips, so they can mitigate risk and make informed decisions.

Looking at the Future

I closed our conversation by asking Mark what he sees as the future challenges for senior living communities particularly with respect to staffing. His immediate response was that as the senior population grows, hiring and retaining great team members will become increasingly difficult. He recommended that senior communities pay special attention to the first 90 days of employment, which is where most turnover occurs.Mark is a big fan of having a carefully crafted onboarding plan or strategy that includes a mentor who can help each new team member find their place.

If you are intrigued by the OnShift story, you might be interested in a white paper they produced that talks about how an acuity-based approach to staffing results in better resident health, increased staffing efficencices and higher satisfaction. Staffing to Acuity: 5 Reasons To Make It Your Top Priority

What does your onboarding process look like?

Do you have any creative recruiting practices to share?

Steve Moran