Sick leaves and the constraints of quarantine can cause problems with your care worker availability. The number of daily confirmed, and we can only assume unconfirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, are rising, and more and more care staff are getting sick as well. This could mean that home care companies are forced to reduce to essential visits only, and many of the most vulnerable will be without support.
Without care workers, there are no visits. Without visits, there is no help nor business.
It’s good to prepare for the worst-case scenario and make a plan on how to ensure your care company has enough care workers. Here are our five cents on how to ensure consistent care worker availability during the covid19 crisis:
- Create carer profiles on your rota software to make sure you are clear about their certifications and what kind of help is needed.
- Design schedules so that you have more carers available than needed, ready to cover if others call in sick.
- Start to build a reserve of carers – Borrow staff from other industries or care services and request volunteers.
- Train while you still can!
- Get ready for the worst-case scenario. Reorganise visits by their criticality and prioritise where your staff is needed the most.
Create carer profiles on your rota software to make sure you are clear about their certifications and what kind of help is needed
Know your human resources! What skills do your staff have and where is their effort most needed?
Ensure you have updated information about your staff’s certifications and training in your rota software. Add carer compliances and expiry dates straight to the carer profiles. Do the same with your client calendar and add the information about the required compliances on a visit.
Once you’ve added the compliance’s and clients’ care requirements to the rota system, it is easy to share visits in the most efficient way and allocate your resources where they are needed the most. Nursebuddy notifies you if you are about to share a visit to someone who doesn’t have the proper certification.
Having all the updated information in place, you can easily check out what kind of know-how is critical for your clients. This helps you to get prepared for the next steps in ensuring careworker availability.
Design schedules so that you have more carers available than needed, ready to cover if others call in sick
When you design schedules, have more carers available than needed so that you can reassign visits quickly if someone calls in sick.
Ask for your carers to be on call during their days-off. They wouldn’t be officially working on those days, but they would be available for cover if needed. This is how some hospitals in the UK ensure they have enough staff.
In Nursebuddy, you can add a preferred and a second preferred carer for each client to make scheduling easy for you even when there are sudden changes to the staff. If the first preferred carer gets sick or is otherwise unable to handle the visit, the system helps you to reassign the visit quickly.
Make sure you already know who can cover whom if someone calls in sick. Be prepared to have enough qualified staff for the most demanding visits. If you are running out of your staff, start to build a reserve of carers while it’s still possible!
Start to build a reserve of carers - Borrow staff from other industries or care services and request volunteers
Many industries are now entirely on pause, and their employees are on furlough or even redundant. You can build a reserve of carers by borrowing staff from other sectors or care services, such as:
- Borrow from other care providers
- Flight attendants
- Other health care workers
- The accommodations and catering industry
Check from other care providers in your area if they have free capacity. Borrow their staff now and return the favour when you can. Allies and cooperation make you stronger than competition and squabbling.
Flight attendants have first aid training, and those working in the beauty and wellness industry know about well-being. They already have skills that might be useful in home care. You could find many people from there that are interested in having a part-time job.
The accommodations and catering industry, as well as some other service industries, could provide potential help. Some might even want to change their career altogether. The current crisis is making many rethink where their skills are needed most, and the rewards are high.
Ask if someone has time to spare and they are willing to lend a helping hand. Many are eager to volunteer to help the elderly. The elderly who live alone are very unlikely to have been exposed to the virus, so the risks are lower. You must ensure that the volunteers are not exposed to the virus. Any amount of time a volunteer can give makes a difference.
Train while you still can!
Train your current care workers, borrowed staff and volunteers while you still can! The more people that have the right skills to fit in when needed, the easier it is for you to reorganise the rotas.
Instead of one care worker, have one care worker and an assistant (from other sectors) to do the visits. This way, some visits can be done faster, and you still have a certified care worker on all the visits.
Don’t hesitate to share information with a temporary workforce or volunteers. Information flows both ways and sharing it pays for itself. You can learn new useful things from temporary care workers. Some might even get excited about home care and continue working for you. That would be a win-win situation for all.
Get ready for the worst-case scenario. Reorganise visits by their criticality and prioritise where your staff is needed the most
Don’t forget to get ready also for the worst-case scenario! In case you don’t have enough staff nor volunteers, you’ll need to start reorganising visits by their criticality. It sounds rough, but you might need to allocate your team to the most critical visits and pause the not so critical ones.
In case you need to pause some visits, make sure you can keep all the clients and carers informed about the situation and when you can return to normal rotas—the more information you can provide the better.
Can you help your clients during the pause? Prepare enough food and groceries for a week or two. Make sure the dossier is up to date and if possible, call to the clients to ensure they have taken their medication. Online care like checkup calls might be necessary when you don’t have enough resources otherwise.
Care worker availability in short
A crisis can cause turmoil in care worker availability, and it’s your responsibility to ensure you have enough resources to provide care for the most vulnerable. Know your human resources, build a reserve of carers, train while you still can, and get ready for the worst-case scenario.
In the end, the most responsible thing you can do is to make sure you stay in business and continue employing and providing care, especially during a crisis.