April 9, 2024

How to improve your rostering efficiency

Table of contents

As a registered manager or owner of a domiciliary care business, you’re often tasked with the intricate balance of delivering high-quality care while ensuring operational efficiency. One key piece of this puzzle is getting your rostering right - creating a smooth schedule that doesn’t just work for everyones timings, but actively helps improve the quality of care provided. This article delves into the strategies and tools that can elevate your rostering practices, ensuring optimal care for recipients and a supportive environment for care professionals.

Understanding Rostering Challenges in Domiciliary Care

Rostering in any form of domiciliary care provision is a multifaceted and nuanced process that goes beyond mere scheduling. It involves delicately balancing the needs, preferences, and well-being of both care recipients and care professionals. In this setting, rostering isn't just about allocating time slots; it's about creating harmonious matches between care professionals and recipients. This requires understanding the unique requirements of each care recipient – such as specific health needs, personal preferences, and lifestyle choices – and aligning them with the skills, experience, and personalities of your care professionals. The objective is to create a reoccurring schedule that not only meets the logistical demands of the service but also fosters a supportive, empathetic, and effective care environment. One last thing - it’s got to be flexible enough as well to compensate for emergencies, alerts or vacancies! No mean feat for any provider.

The first step towards achieving rostering efficiency is to have a clear understanding of the current system you have and its impact. Engaging in open and honest communication with your team is crucial. This can be initiated through team meetings or informal discussions, where you can explore how the current rostering process is working for both care professionals and recipients. It's important to delve into specific areas such as how the current system is affecting staff workload and moral, the quality of care being delivered, and how well it aligns with regulatory standards, such as those set by the CQC. Understanding these facets will provide a comprehensive view of the strengths and gaps in your current system.

Actionable Point: To gain a deeper insight into what is/isn’t working, conduct an internal survey or organize focus group discussions among your staff. These discussions should aim to gather candid feedback and suggestions on how to improve the scheduling process. This could include questions about their preferences in terms of shifts, workload, travel time between care visits, and their experiences in dealing with the specific needs of care recipients. Make sure to keep these sessions structured so they don’t simply dissolve into unhelpful negative sentiment or don’t provide a safe space for everyone to have their voice heard.

Resource: For guidance on best practices in rostering and ensuring compliance with care standards, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) can be a great initial port of call. Their numerous publications and guidelines on staffing and scheduling can offer insights into how to align your rostering process with the required standards for safe and effective care.

Exploring how Technology can Take the Load Off

Incorporating a digital platform into the rostering process is a transformative step for domiciliary care businesses - even more so for businesses that have been doing paper rotas or using outdated clunky systems. In an industry where time is a precious commodity, and the quality of care is paramount, the shift from manual to digital scheduling is vital. Modern digital rostering tools are purpose built to streamline the rostering process, making it more efficient and less prone to errors. These tools can automatically match care professionals with care recipients based on numerous criteria such as availability, skillset, location, and care needs, thereby ensuring a high-quality care service. By automating and optimising the scheduling process, these tools can significantly reduce the administrative burden on managers, freeing up time to focus on other critical aspects of care provision.

The first step in integrating technology into your rostering process is to assess the available software options. When exploring these options, it's important to consider several key factors: the user-friendliness of the software, its compatibility with your existing systems, and the specific features it offers. Each domiciliary care business has unique needs, so it's crucial to find a solution that aligns with your specific operational requirements and challenges. For instance, if your business covers a wide geographical area, you might prioritise software with advanced geo-mapping features. Alternatively, if you manage a diverse team with varying skill levels, you might look for a tool with sophisticated skill-matching capabilities.

Actionable Point: A practical approach is to sign up for demos or free trials of various rostering software options. This hands-on experience will give you a clearer understanding of how the software works and how it can benefit your business. Make sure to look out for rostering solutions that are part of a bigger care management platform that covers other areas, as that will give you room to grow without having to pay extra or switch suppliers. During any demos or trials, pay attention to how the software handles the scheduling process, its ease of use, and the level of support offered by the provider.

Effective Communication Strategies with Staff

Clear and effective communication is at the heart of successful rostering in domiciliary care. It's a two-way street where not only is important information about schedules disseminated to care professionals, but their feedback, availability, and preferences are also actively sought and considered. This is crucial in creating a roster that respects and accommodates the needs and constraints of your staff, leading to more efficient care delivery and increased job satisfaction. The first step towards enhancing communication in rostering is to establish reliable and accessible channels for information exchange. This might involve setting up regular meetings where staff can discuss their schedules, or using digital platforms where they can easily access their rosters, understand changes quickly and provide immediate feedback.

To begin, evaluate your current communication methods. Are they efficient and effective in reaching all your staff? Do they allow for easy exchange of information and feedback? Depending on the size of your team and the nature of your operations, different methods may be more suitable. For smaller teams, regular face-to-face meetings might suffice, but for larger operations or teams spread over a wide geographical area, digital tools can be much more effective.

Actionable Point: Look at your current ways of communicating with the team. Are they open to error? Do they make auditing difficult? What do the team think? Understanding what the key concerns are then makes finding a solution that beats those concerns easier. Look for platforms that not only facilitate the dissemination of scheduling information but also provide a space for care professionals to securely voice their preferences and availability, report issues, and give feedback. The tool should also be  able to be accessed from mobile devices, ensuring that all team members stay informed and connected regardless of their location - that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be very secure however!

Resource: For more comprehensive guidance on establishing effective communication in care settings, 'Skills for Care' offers valuable resources. Their website provides tips and best practices for communication within care teams, including how to choose the right communication tools and strategies for different scenarios. Exploring these resources can provide you with a deeper understanding of how to optimize communication within your team, which is a key component of efficient rostering. Visit Skills for Care’s communication resources for more information.

Sara from Newcross Healthcare Solutions sat down with the team at Birdie to discuss how their care team communicates effectively without using emails and WhatsApp:

Prioritising Care Recipient Needs in Rostering

Prioritising the individual needs and preferences of your care recipients as part of the rostering process is a crucial way to provide high-quality domiciliary care that improves wellbeing and gets your business that coveted Outstanding rating. This task goes beyond mere scheduling however; it requires a deep understanding of each care recipient's unique situation, including their health conditions, daily routines, personal preferences, and social needs. The goal is to then align the qualifications, skills, and personalities of care professionals with these specific requirements to ensure that each recipient receives care that is not only clinically appropriate but also personally tailored and respectful of their lifestyle and choices.

The starting point for this personalised approach is a thorough review and understanding of the care plans of each recipient. A care plan is a comprehensive document that outlines all aspects of a recipient's needs, including medical, psychological, social, and personal care. Excellent care plans also look at social context, such as key background details that build up the picture of a complete person, and end of life requests. Familiarising yourself with these plans (and making sure they capture enough detail in the first place) enables you to make informed decisions when matching care professionals to recipients. This process ensures that care recipients receive the best possible care, tailored to their individual needs, thereby enhancing their quality of life and overall satisfaction with the care they receive.

Actionable Point: To effectively prioritise individual care needs in rostering, regularly review and update the care plans of all recipients. This practice ensures that any changes in a recipient's condition or preferences are promptly reflected in the care they receive. It also helps care professionals stay informed and prepared to deliver personalised care. This is no easy task to do manually - so make sure you’re using an intelligent platform for homecare that helps keep the process streamlined and avoid room for errors.

Resource: NHS England offers a number comprehensive resources on personalised care planning, which can be a valuable guide for domiciliary care providers. These resources include best practices, templates, and guidelines on creating and maintaining effective care plans. They emphasise the importance of person-centered care and provide insights into how to integrate these principles into daily care practices, including rostering. Access these resources on personalised care planning at NHS England's website to enhance your understanding and implementation of individualized care in your scheduling process.

Continuous Rostering Improvement through Feedback

Incorporating routine feedback and responses to feedback into the rostering process leads to continuous improvement. Feedback serves as a direct line of communication from those who are most impacted by the rostering system: the care professionals and the care recipients. By regularly collecting and analysing their input, you gain valuable insights into how well the current rostering practices are meeting their needs and expectations. This feedback can highlight areas of strength, as well as identify potential issues or areas for improvement. For example, care professionals might provide insights on workload balance, travel time between visits, or preferences for certain shifts, while care recipients can offer feedback on the consistency and suitability of the care they receive.

To effectively gather this feedback, the first step is to establish a systematic and user-friendly method for collection. Digital feedback forms or surveys are an efficient way to do this. They can be designed to collect specific information and can be easily distributed and completed by care professionals and recipients. The key is to ensure that these forms are concise, relevant, and respectful of the respondents' time.

Actionable Point: Implement digital feedback forms or surveys that can be easily accessed and filled out by your staff and care recipients. These surveys should be structured to elicit specific, actionable feedback. Regularly schedule these surveys – for instance, quarterly – to ensure you are continually receiving up-to-date feedback.

Resource: SurveyMonkey is an excellent platform for creating these surveys. It offers a range of templates and tools to design effective feedback forms that can be customised to suit the specific needs of your domiciliary care service. SurveyMonkey also provides resources on best practices for survey creation, ensuring that your feedback forms are engaging and effective in gathering the necessary information. Visit SurveyMonkey's website for guidance and tools to create your user-friendly feedback surveys.

By addressing these key areas, you can significantly enhance rostering efficiency in your domiciliary care business. Remember, effective rostering is not just about operational efficiency; it's about providing high-quality, personalised care to recipients and creating a supportive work environment for care professionals. In the competitive and regulated field of domiciliary care, neglecting these aspects can lead to serious repercussions, including staff burnout, decreased care quality, and potential regulatory non-compliance. Embrace these strategies to ensure your business thrives in providing exceptional domiciliary care.

If you found the insights in this article helpful, click the button below to find out the ‘Top 10 Best Staff Rostering Software’ within the UK homecare industry.

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