Scheduling is one of the most budget-heavy and time-consuming processes for senior living companies. It’s also one of the least efficient.
Typically, schedulers need to ensure there are enough employees on staff to care for residents while keeping budgetary guidelines in mind. But a schedule that worked in the first half of the month may not work during the second half. Factor in days off or sick days, and schedule-makers quickly run into problems ensuring communities are appropriately staffed.
Technology solutions can work to help long-term care and senior living providers, and can take some of the guesswork out of creating schedules month in and month out.
The Smart Scheduler It’s not uncommon to hear about organizations utilizing spreadsheets for scheduling purposes. While those documents might keep information tidy and in one place, they can be inefficient in that they require manual manipulation to ensure all shifts are covered while avoiding scheduling conflicts. If even a few scheduling conflicts arise from overstaffing, an organization’s financial bottom line can be at stake due to unforeseen overtime costs.
Larger organizations in particular can face scheduling inefficiencies because they tend to utilize multiple scheduling platforms or techniques. Such was the case at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, located in New Hyde Park, New York. Originally founded in 1907, Parker Jewish has grown to offer a multitude of services, from a 527-bed skilled nursing facility to home care and hospice care.
A little over six years ago, Parker Jewish was seeking a solution to help remedy its scheduling woes. President and CEO Michael Rosenblut tells Senior Housing News how his organization was utilizing three disparate scheduling systems.
“Nothing talked to one another,” says Rosenblut.
Enter SmartLinx 6.
The platform relies on data and automated features to create “ideal schedules.”Instead of manually cross-referencing every staff member’s schedule, SmartLinx will create what is called the “ideal schedule,” based on predetermined guidelines, such as budget, census and acuity of those in need of care. The platform can automatically create smart schedules that adapt in real time to changing needs.
According to SmartLinx product manager Slava Zeif, the software can analyze trends and data to help organizations quickly identify gaps in their scheduling, such as if more staff members are needed for certain shifts.
Organizations are also able to create rules that the ideal schedule can abide by. For example, a scheduler can tell SmartLinx to create a schedule that excludes employees at or near the 40-hour benchmark to avoid overtime pay.
The Benefits of Smart Scheduling Software Since implementing SmartLinx about six years ago, Parker Jewish has experienced greater control over its workforce while reducing costs. According to Rosenblut, the company immediately shed about $100,000 in expenses because the company didn’t need to outsource scheduling anymore.
More importantly, though, was the company’s ability to collect and analyze data. Leadership was able to look at information by department, how many staff are in a building at a given time and who clocked in, to name a few data points.
“It’s a tremendous amount of power in an organization,” says Rosenblut.
With that data in hand, organizations are able to make smarter decisions for managing their workforce. But employers aren’t the only ones to benefit from SmartLinx — the platform is also beneficial for workers.
Employees Have More Say Zeif says that by implementing SmartLinx, employees “have more skin in the game.” The software will inform the workforce if there are additional shifts they can pick up, he says, giving them a sense of control and flexibility.
And one of the most important benefits of SmartLinx is its forward-thinking philosophy. The entire platform is accessible via mobile device, as well as traditional desktop computer. This allows employees to pick up shifts from their phones and easily request time off. Meanwhile, managers can see if and when they’ll be short staffed and can quickly post open shifts or schedule someone to come in as a result.
“That kind of cooperation and communication between management and staff is very healthy and helpful in preventing turnover,” says Zeif.
To learn more about SmartLinx and how it can help your [senior housing/skilled nursing] organization make work work better, visit http://www.smartlinxsolutions.com/.
Written by Erik Prado