Why data analytics may be the unexpected solution to the problem of aged-care staff retention

The aged care space presents a unique and almost topsy-turvy challenge for organisations. With an aging population and care needs set to increase dramatically in coming years, finding customers won’t be the primary issue. What is already at a critical point for many organisations is attracting and retaining staff.

Rather than see this is a kind of hopeless ‘churn and burn’ situation, smart organisations are drilling down to what brings about the greatest levels of employee satisfaction and loyalty. A well-developed data analytics platform can provide incredibly powerful insights and be the bedrock for organisational stability in this era of rapid change.

Riding the wave of funding model changes

Community care organisations (including aged care) are set to sink or swim under the impact of funding model changes. Consumer directed care (CDC) sees a seismic shift in how funding is tracked – now following consumers rather than being allocated to organisations – and has significant ramifications for cash flow. More than ever before, organisations need accurate and up-to-the-minute insights into all aspects of operations so they can be agile, cost efficient and articulate points of difference to an increasingly competitive market-place.

Underpinning all of these challenges is the primary goal of all care organisations: how to provide outstanding care to consumers. That can only be achieved with a stable, happy, well-functioning team and it is in this area that many organisations are struggling.

High rates of staff turnover plus escalating demand

Recent industry estimates put staff turnover within aged care at about 25%. Findings reported in publication Australian Ageing Agenda in 2016 were illuminating. Researcher Dr Katrina Radford from Griffith University “found that organisational factors such as working conditions and job satisfaction were far more important than personal factors in determining whether a person continued working in the sector.”

Workers want to feel seen and valued by their organisation and they want access to training and career progression. In an SMH story earlier this year about chronic staff shortages within aged care, industry body Leading Aged Services Australia predicted current numbers of around 350,000 workers will need to increase to 1.3 million by 2050 in order to meet demand. Thus, solving the staff ‘churn and burn’ issue is absolutely paramount for organisations that want to survive and thrive into the future.

Get on top of data analytics now or get left behind

Increasing administrative demands and market competition mean that it’s paramount for organisations to have a clear understanding of their profitability and ensure there are no areas where costs are blowing out. Many organisations are now diversifying to offer multiple services (such as disability and aged care) in order to provide a full life cycle of care to clients. And the pressing question remains: how to retain quality staff throughout these transformations?

These new demands require a complete evolution in how organisations gather, track and analyse data. From our experience of working with clients in this space, we see that many still rely on spreadsheet based systems to record information and make staff and rostering decisions. This just doesn’t make sense when a) data-based insights are becoming so crucial and b) the technology exists to make data analytics a powerful, easy-to-use tool.

The multiple staffing benefits that data analytics delivers

Put simply, data analytics is the process of examining data sets to get clearer visibility about your organisation. These data sets already exist. Analytics helps you gather them and make sense of them in a way that is powerful to your organisation.

Staffing, rostering and professional development are all vastly improved with the right use of data analytics.

  • Gain insights into rostering patterns – who is being under-utilised, who is being over-utilised and how this is impacting staffing costs? Are you spending more than you need paying some people overtime while others could be rostered on more?
  • Increase visibility of vacant shifts due to leave and how many shifts need to be covered in a specific time period.
  • Increase visibility into staff wellbeing – if people are being overworked their quality of service may be compromised and job satisfaction levels might drop. If they are being underutilised they may not feel valued or connected to the organisation.
  • Stay informed and up to date on compliance issues – eliminate unexpected gaps when people can’t work because their compliance checks or other certifications have expired.
  • Gather insights from payroll, HR, finance and CMS all through the one pane of glass – 360 degree visibility helps identify areas that are inefficient and where process improvements can be introduced.

Solve problems and develop solutions that benefit both customers and organisation

The above visibility that data analytics provides helps with base-level organisational insights and improvements. We have also seen how implementing data analytics can get really granular, helping to solve specific operational and staffing problems and make new solutions possible.

A good example of this is the question of in-home care and the rush on 9 a.m. shower requests many aged-care organisations face. A knee-jerk reaction to this is to fulfil the need with contractors. Not great for your margins. With the right insights you have the opportunity and power to analyse the situation and make other decisions. For example, charge a premium for 9 a.m. showers or offer discounts for non-peak 11 a.m. showers.

Data analytics also allows for better analysis of profits by service line, area or client. This means you can structure different packages, make better decisions and even personalise packages for individuals. Reduce or eliminate the issue of under-spending so that clients aren’t in the position of having to return funds to the government. And be in a position to tailor care where clients want to top up their funding and extend their care services.

The more agile and sophisticated your service provision is, the more satisfied your clients will be and this in turn has a huge impact on staff satisfaction. Staff can also be trained to use data analytics in their own work and decision making, increasing how connected and empowered they feel in their jobs.

Stay informed and stay ahead to make the most of this time of change

Knowing the technology tools that can help your organisation flourish is going to make all the difference during this time of change. Technology, rather than a thing to be feared, can be part of the solution. We’ve seen first-hand how organisations are transformed by the right data analytics implementation. To get more insights for what it can mean for you, download our Community Care Guide to Data Analytics or get in touch to start the conversation.

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