2020 September

Staffing During the Pandemic

By Kristin Thim, Director of Human Resources at Living Branches

Q – Have you been able to recruit new staff during this pandemic – if so, how are you doing that?  Anything that is working well in particular?

Yes, we have been successful in recruiting new staff during the pandemic.

We hired non-essential workers furloughed who were seeking temporary work as Universal Aides to provide additional support with meal deliveries, screening, and Skype visits.

When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) allowed for temporary CNA licenses by completing an 8 hour on-line training, we targeted candidates who were enrolled in CNA training programs at area schools where classes had been put on hold because of stay at home mandates.  We were successful in bringing on these students, some of which went through our Nurse Aide training class that resumed in July and now have permanent assignments in our community.

Q – Any tips that you’ve learning on how to onboard or orient in distance/online modes?

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

Previously we would have new hires come in prior to orientation to complete the required paperwork, take their photo for the id badge, and review benefit and retirement information.   In addition, employees would need to complete a 2 step TST for tuberculosis.  Since both of these steps required coming into the community and since we had implemented a no visitor policy, we quickly adjusted our procedures.  We made all forms electronic so they could be e-mailed to the candidate and completed on-line.  In addition, we moved from the 2 step PPD to a QuantiFERON blood test completed at an off-site lab.

Q – Are you experiencing more staff turnover now or less?  What do you contribute that to?   

The turnover has slowed down as employees are not looking to move at this time.  Our mission is to serve the residents of our community and the team members have developed strong bonds with the residents as well as their families.  I have heard many say how important it is now, more than ever, to be there for our residents. 

We also introduced some additional perks to support our team members and show the community’s appreciation.  This included casual dress, free meals, and additional compensation for caring for COVID+ residents.

Q – And finally, in general, how are your staff doing and how has Living Branches adapted to the pandemic challenges? 

The team members have had to adapt very quickly to a new version of what work and life looks like.  Through it all, they have remained resilient, and displayed unwavering commitment and compassion to the residents and their co-workers.

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