By Susan Saldibar
Mary is an LPN who is also a mom. She’d like to have the flexibility of part-time hours to fit in with her kids’ fluctuating school schedules. Doug is a semi-retired RN who wants to keep active and augment his social security. Angie is a CNA who is caring for her aging mom but would like a part-time job. They’re qualified, eager to work, and would love to be part of your on-demand staffing pool.
But there’s a problem. You don’t even know they’re out there.
Signature Healthcare knows they’re out there. And they’re hiring them.
I spoke recently with Nick Porter, Vice President of Total Rewards Signature Healthcare, LLC. Signature is a family-owned national network of services that include assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, home health, and telemedicine, to name a few. And they’re growing rapidly, having been listed on the Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest-growing private companies in 2017.
“Healthcare Is a Staffing Nightmare”
But, Signature, like so many senior care providers, hasn’t been immune to what Nick refers to as senior living’s “staffing nightmare”. Fighting razor-thin margins and competition by places like Costco and Walmart, getting care staff, and keeping them, isn’t easy. And, hospitals remain the primary target of nurses.
Fortunately, there’s a new staffing technology platform that Signature is using, called Matchwell (a Senior Living Foresight partner). And even Nick has yet to find anything quite like it.
Signature’s Staffing Goals Are Ones You’ll Recognize: Stop Relying on Agencies and Overtime
Staffing agencies have, for decades, enjoyed close to a monopoly on organizations that need to quickly fill a position. In senior living, the love-hate relationship has been a bit more on the “hate” side, especially during COVID when staffing challenges have been taken to a whole new level. The agency is doing great while you’re tearing your hair out!
Nick and his team at Signature decided to do something. “The rate for an agency nurse eats up your bottom line,” Nick says. “We began to ask ourselves, what is the best solution to get the staff we need and avoid an agency?”
They looked at expanding their float pools, but it would need to be centrally managed. They considered a GPO model, which would basically send all their staffing needs through one agency. But it would still keep them shackled to agencies. That’s when Nick found Matchwell.
Untapped Pools of Flex Candidates, Exactly What Nick Was Looking For
Matchwell is an inspiring story in and of itself. It was founded by CEO, Robert Crowe, who was an executive leader at one of the nation’s largest staffing agencies. Building the Matchwell platform was the result of Rob’s own search for a better way to tap into heretofore undiscovered pools of potential talent, and bring them together with senior care providers.
So, he created a platform that allows care providers to communicate with CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and other care staff from a pool of pre-vetted professionals. As Rob likes to say, after decades of “being on the wrong team”, he created a direct and transparent model; one that didn’t even exist until they launched in Georgia in early 2019 (they are now in 11 states).
Partners access a steady stream of “on-demand” staff, which reduces the need for communities to rely on overtime or go through an agency to meet urgent staffing needs. And, having these tools has taken a lot of pressure off an already stressed-out leadership team, helping reduce burn-out due to dealing with chronic staffing shortages.
It was exactly the kind of model Nick had been looking for and is hoping to ultimately use as a replacement for agencies. It will allow Signature to tap into a whole new pool of staff they hadn’t had access to before. So, as Nick sees it, Matchwell is filling the agency need with lower cost and more flexibility when and where they need it.
What really impresses Nick is how the platform is transforming the lives of workers. “Instead of a care staff worker signing on with 20 different agencies, they can just sign up with Matchwell,” he says. “It’s easy for them to pick up shifts. It’s created a gig economy for care staff. So, if I’m an LPN or RN and wake up and need a shift, now I can do it.”
Nick’s Favorite Part? Putting More Dollars Back Into the Pockets of Care Staff.
Using the Matchwell platform will, going forward, be changing much of how Signature handles staffing, Nick says. They will begin to root out agencies, replacing them with Matchwell. And he sees the platform as giving them a leg up on the competition when it comes to pay. “Instead of paying $65 per hour where a nurse only gets $33 and the agency gets the difference, we’ll get our nursing staff using the Matchwell platform,” Nick explains. “Then we can take a portion of what we save and pay the nurse more!”
Advice to Other Operators? Do This Now!
I asked Nick if he has any advice for operators who are wondering if this model could improve their staffing efficiencies. “Make the change now! It’s so easy to get lost in the COVID state of things. We’re all scraping by; we’re all short of staff. So now is the time to act,” he says.
And, Nick is in it for the long haul. “Matchwell isn’t just a ‘quick fix’. It’s an investment to position ourselves to the future state of staffing and healthcare. If we don’t sink our teeth in now, we’re going to wind up falling behind. So, go ahead and start planting seeds!”
For more information on Matchwell, please visit their website.