Under normal circumstances, maintaining appropriate nursing staff levels to deliver quality resident care is a daily struggle. Add in severe weather, flu outbreak or a pandemic and the scales are tipped. Traditionally, senior living healthcare communities shy away from utilizing agency nursing staff due to high cost and the disruption of consistent providers for their residents. However, there are times when contracted nursing staff may be required to meet the needs of the residents.
Keep in mind the following best risk management practices when utilizing agency staff:
- Establish a written and signed contract executed between the community and the agency covering the community’s performance expectations, including employment criteria and acceptance of the agency staff’s agreement prior to their tour of duty.
- Utilize employment agencies that agree to provide the following information (written or copies) prior to the agency staff’s employment:
- Criminal background check
- Completed reference check
- Communicable disease and health status to ensure the individual is physically able to perform duties
- Verification of state licensure, certification, and/or registration status
- Proof of completion of state and federally mandated continuing education hours
- Establish a general agreement listing the community’s expectations, rules, regulations, overall job responsibilities, payable hours, methods to sign in, call-off duty, and sign off duty, including timesheet completion which is read and signed by agency staff as part of the initial orientation.
- Implement an orientation checklist for agency licensed nurses and nursing assistants to complete prior to working independently.
- Establish a system(s) to provide ongoing support and/or resources for agency staff access in areas that may not be covered in orientation (e.g., quick reference materials, agency manuals, policy and procedure manuals that are readily available, task lists or checklists for day-to-day management, and access to on-call staff or house supervisor).
Ideally, senior living healthcare communities desire to maintain appropriate staffing levels with their own qualified staff but it may become necessary to depend on agency staff to assist in meeting their needs. If this occurs, place yourself in the best position for delivery of resident care by appropriate professionals by implementing the above best risk management practices for agency use. These best practices and sample orientation documents can be found on the AssuredPartners Senior Living Risk Management portal or from the AssuredPartners Senior Living team.