It’s Time to Replace Paper Processes with AI driven Staff Scheduling Software for Aged Care

How many hours a month does your team spend creating and updating rosters? What else could you do with that time?

07/15/2021

Your HR department and managers can invest more time mentoring and leading – getting the best from your teams rather than spend time on repetitive, and mundane administrative tasks.    

What’s more, staff scheduling software can improve productivity, staff motivation, residents’ satisfaction, quality of care and compliance – and it’s easy to use. Forget ringing staff to find sick cover, or discovering there was a no-call, no-show because someone didn’t see the roster. 

Simply put? If you’re still using paper processes or manually emailing out schedules every week, it’s time to consider a new way.

 

Paper Scheduling Is Inefficient and Outdated 

There are many reasons why aged care providers might still be using paper processes – especially if they’ve inherited a paper scheduling system and just “haven’t got around to” updating it. Leadership might believe that they have neither the time required to implement scheduling software nor the money to invest in it.

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Yet delaying the switch to staff scheduling software can be far costlier. Paper scheduling creates numerous problems, from increased administrative work to a lack of schedule flexibility. It can result in compliance challenges, payroll errors and higher costs – especially when human error leads to a poor ratio of skilled workers and residents.

Overworked staff can also feel unappreciated and demotivated when schedules fail to provide the work-life balance that they need. Whether they’re working unnecessary overtime or getting regular phone calls asking them to provide sick cover, this can cause stress, tiredness and disengagement.  An AI-driven schedule system will not only learn from your teams’ behaviour but will optimise against forecasts, skills, education so that Aged Care Operators not only achieve business outcomes but engaged staff can deliver superior care.

 

Why Paper Scheduling is Particularly Costly for Aged Care Providers 

Running an aged care service is already challenging. Profit margins are notoriously low, with many providers operating in the red.     The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care has highlighted the challenges that the industry has and its recommendations will only add more complexity for operators.  Cloud based tools should be adopted to innovate and change processes quickly and efficiently.   

Aged care providers cannot skimp on either property or staffing: both are essential to the quality of life and care for residents. As such, aged care providers need to reduce inefficiencies in staff scheduling without compromising the quality of care. 

Improving scheduling can have a significant impact on an aged care provider’s ability to remain financially viable: while top operators spend 48% of income on staff wages, that figure rises to 70% at more inefficient providers.

Watch our recent webinar on the Workforce Outcomes from the Aged Care Royal Commission.   

Scheduling is particularly complex in the aged care industry. Not only is the number of nurses on staff important, but so is their level of experience and qualifications. According to a hearing on The Future of the Aged Care Workforce run by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety, the biggest factor in the quality of care is the number of hours worked by nurses at specific levels. Moreover, the number of nurses and the qualifications required varies according to the frailty and care needs of the residents. Fluctuating numbers of residents and changing medical conditions can make it harder to plan ahead.

Understaffing can also have a severe impact on the residents’ happiness: a survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that only 80% of residents in care homes felt that staff were available for them to talk to when they were “a bit sad or worried” – leaving one in every five residents unsure if they would find the support they need. 

 

What Benefits Could Staff Scheduling Software Have for Aged Care Providers?

Staff scheduling software can enable aged care providers to tackle the issues of high costs, challenging scheduling, and staff turnover. It can also improve residents’ satisfaction and increase productivity.

 

Increased Productivity 

From head office through to the care home, improved scheduling can lead to measurably greater productivity. In fact, workforce management solutions have been found to improve productivity by as much as 20%.

Less time will be spent poring over schedules and contacting staff, but it’s not just behind the scenes that you’ll see more work being done. By creating a schedule that works for both your staff and your residents, you will free up care staff to work more efficiently – and with greater motivation. 

Instead of turning up to work stressed after a last-minute call-in or tired after too much overtime, they will be calm, motivated, and confident that their employer respects their work-life balance.

 

Reduced Costs 

How much money are you currently losing on unnecessary staffing? An automated workforce management system can see significant reductions in wages through better planning of schedules. It can reduce overtime alone by 33%.

It’s not just in the care home that you will see the difference, either: one Humanforce user found that the time spent on payroll decreased by 90%.

 

Increased Scheduling Control

An automated scheduling system makes it easier to make last-minute changes to schedules, confirm who is available, and avoid errors – no more accidentally scheduling someone who has booked leave or lacks the necessary qualification. One healthcare company found that one of the main benefits of using Humanforce was “not having to ring 20 people to cover a shift”.

You’ll also be able to analyse trends based on the data available. Strong reporting tools can help you understand the bigger picture: how frequent are sick days in winter compared to summer? How common is lateness, and how does that fluctuate according to changing HR policies? On average, how many of the rostered hours are actually worked, and based on that, how many staff members do you actually need? 

With these and other insights, you’ll be better positioned to plan your recruitment and scheduling appropriately.

 

Reduced Errors and Improved Compliance 

Whether it’s a timesheet filled in wrong, a case of illegible handwriting, or simply confused calendars, errors can cause issues for nursing homes through to head office and payroll. 

Staff scheduling software, however, can minimise this issue. Since you can input scheduled days off and qualifications into the system, there is a reduced risk of scheduling someone who is unable to work or shouldn’t be working.   AI driven systems can predict the best schedule for your organisation. 

Humanforce users can combine this with our Time & Attendance system to further reduce errors (and the complaints associated with them). You will also have the perfect record of what shifts someone did and how many hours they worked – making payroll quicker and easier.

 

Reduced Turnover 

By 2025, there will be a predicted shortage of 100,000 nurses in Australia. Keeping staff happy has never been so important.

High turnover can demotivate staff and prevent the creation of a positive work atmosphere – something that can lead to even more staff handing in their notice. Time and time again, investigations into high turnover have found that staffing shortages were probably a contributory factor.  An AI driven system can learn from behaviour and will create a schedule that will have high acceptance rates from team members.  

Yet it’s not just the staff who suffer when turnover is high. Hiring and training costs can increase, plus you can expect a poorer quality of care while new team members are being onboarded. There will also be fewer familiar faces for residents, adding stress and discomfort at a time when stability would be beneficial.

Scheduling software, however, can improve staff satisfaction. It keeps processes running smoothly, cuts down on overtime and allows staff to better plan their week. When there are changes to the schedule, affected staff will find out straight away. 

 

Increased Satisfaction for Residents

98.1% of respondents in a COTA Australia 2018 report said that “staff friendliness” was an important part of choosing an aged care provider. In fact, it came second only to “being treated with respect and dignity”, outranking even “feeling safe and secure”. 

When staff scheduling is improved, so is staff friendliness. Residents benefit not only from better organised and more efficient care, but also from the increased motivation and job satisfaction of the staff – something that becomes evident in warmer smiles and more responsive patient care.

Poor systems can hamper talented and caring staff, preventing you from providing the best possible quality of care. The right staff scheduling software, however, can help you stay on top of rosters, improve care, free up time and reduce costs.

 

Whether you’re creating rosters and rotas for three employees or 3,000, Humanforce’s staff scheduling software can help you make your workforce exceptional. Book a demo with us today to find out how you could integrate it with your current processes.

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