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How to Optimize Your Senior Living Healthcare Staffing

Healthcare staffing in general, and senior or assisted living healthcare staffing specifically, is facing an uphill battle for qualified and certified healthcare professionals. In July, The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) released the results of a national survey in which 94% of nursing home providers said they have experienced a shortage of staff. In assisted living communities, 81% said they had similar staffing shortages.

The same survey results indicated that more than half of nursing home and assisted living providers lost key members of their staff last year during the pandemic due to workers quitting, including among certified nursing assistants (CNAs), personal care assistants (PCAs) and other caregivers and dietary staff. Eighty-one percent of nursing home providers and 75% of assisted living communities stated that higher reimbursement to offer better staff pay and benefits would help improve the facility’s ability to recruit and retain staff members.

Senior living healthcare staffing professionals faced significant candidate shortage before the pandemic. In fact, Argentum — a national association supporting professionally managed, resident-centered senior-living communities and the older adults and families they serve — projected in 2016 that the senior-living industry will need to attract more than 1.2 million additional employees by 2025 to accommodate for industry growth and to replace current employees leaving the industry.

How Senior Living Facilities Are Staffing During a Pandemic

Sourcing strategies, benefits, perks – even higher starting salaries – may not be enough to bring in the experienced or certified candidates senior and assisted living facilities need. Many are getting creative in order to bring on new caregivers to support existing staff, creating a bonus structure for certified carers (CNAs and PCAs) for picking up shifts, and working hard to create a recruitment process that gets qualified caregivers and healthcare workers into their pipelines and senior living homes.

Follow these five strategies to optimize your senior living recruiting.

1. Hire support for overworked staff

Christian Horizons, which operates communities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, created a “helping hands” position: non-certified workers that can perform non-nursing activities such as making beds, light housekeeping, and answering resident calls for simple tasks. Christian Horizons reached out to the hotel industry, small businesses, and churches to recruit employees. Bethany Home Association in Lindsborg, Kansas, has eased the burden on direct care workers by creating a new position called “resident care assistant.”

2. Offer opportunities for career development

Entry-level workers can struggle to break into senior ranks of employment in the senior care industry, particularly if there is a lack of training or other investment by the facility. New Jewish Home, located in New York City’s Upper West Side, is supporting their talent pipeline and giving opportunities to underprivileged youth with its Geriatric Career Development Program – which offers pre-certified nursing assistant training (CNA), a home health aide course and internships.

Related: Learn how to streamline healthcare recruiting with automation

3. Find the students

Summit Vista, a life plan community in Utah, has a scholarship program for students who work a total of 1,000 hours in two years. The community is currently partnered with four local high schools and works to recruit students as young as 15 years old to fill part-time PRN and per-diem positions, with typical workloads of about 10 or 15 hours a week during busy holiday or summer seasons.

Related: How to Build a Strategy to Recruit Student Workers

4. Find the displaced hospitality workers

In 2020, Solera Senior Living, a Denver-based senior living provider, scrambled to recruit hospitality sector workers who lost their jobs in Covid-related layoffs and furloughs and have made it a pillar of their recruiting strategy. When Solera reaches out to candidates, the messages are crafted in a way that hospitality workers can relate to, with lots of emphasis on innovation, next-generation culture and being a leader in hospitality. Solera also makes it a point to talk about how the company grows and nurtures new talent.

5. Find the retirees

In an uncertain economy, younger retirees (age 55+) are seeking other ways to make income. Connect with local churches, volunteer organizations, and community programs for seniors to spread the word about your job openings. Older workers are likely to want many of the same things as younger workers. But two strategies that may appeal to them specifically are flexible work schedules and programs that foster physical and intellectual wellness, so highlighting both of those as part of your recruitment plan is key.

The pandemic has displaced and redistributed where workers are and what they are willing to do in a dramatic way. A recruitment strategy that remains creatively open, with a keen eye on the available target candidate audiences, can help you reach more qualified candidates quickly. To stay on top of healthcare recruiting and learn how Talroo can help your organization hire better, read more of our talent acquisition blog or visit our website.