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Care sector staffing challenges cause surge in technology adoption

Staff at St Davids and St Christophers Nursing and Residential Homes in North Ascot

UK residential care homes are facing increasing challenges as staff shortages make planning and managing rosters almost impossible.

According to Deputy, the leading workforce management app, its healthcare customers, including more than 20,000 workers in UK residential care homes, have increased their rostered hours by 230% year on year between February 2020 and 2021.

At the same time, advanced planning of shifts has become much more erratic, reducing from an average of 18-20 days to 12-14 days.

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In these turbulent times, staff rotas have become unpredictable. Just last month, the National Care Forum revealed that most care homes have been dealing with between 11% and 40% staff absences and some have been functioning without 50% of their staff due to COVID-19, self-isolation following contact tracing, shielding and childcare responsibilities.

Over the past 12 months, Deputy has been brought on board for more than 20,000 residential care workers across the UK, as more and more care homes turn to scheduling software to take the pain out of managing unpredictable staff rotas and last-minute changes.

Specialising in providing nursing with dementia care, Aspen Hill Village is one of the biggest care homes in Leeds, with 242 staff and service for up to 180 residents.

It’s part of a group of five care homes operated by Armighorn Capital, which is run by Navjot Singh and his partner Shahzada Ahmed. Their strategy is simple. “It’s all about creating a better experience for residents and staff,” says Navjot.

“We’re passionate about ensuring we provide care to the very highest standard. When you’re dealing with different issues across the business, it’s very disruptive to be tied up doing admin tasks the old-fashioned way. On timesheet inaccuracies alone, Deputy saves us between £2,000-£5,000 each month.”

David Kelly, General Manager for EMEA at Deputy, said: “With fluctuating levels of demand and many staff being unavailable to work, we’ve seen a sharp rise in care homes using software to manage their workforce in a much more agile and structured way.

“For example, if someone calls in sick, a manager can find a replacement quickly. Our app advertises available shifts instantly to all qualified staff who are not already due to be working and also offers a shift swapping feature, which reduces the need for expensive agency cover.”

Deputy keeps track of staff attendance and ratios, making it easier to meet CQC audit requirements and also integrates accurate timesheets directly into the payroll, reducing costly errors and admin.

David Tanner, owner of St David’s and St Christopher’s Nursing and Residential Homes in North Ascot, Berkshire, said: “We reduced our time spent administering payroll from 160 hours to eight hours per month. The hours we save go back into extra pay and staffing.”

David Kelly added: “This is an incredibly testing time. As the care sector rightly focuses on the overall quality of patient experience there is much that can be done to support the employees in this endeavour and also make the core business more efficient and resilient.”

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The author Lee Peart

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