How to make agency staff feel welcome in your long-term care facility


Healthcare facilities often need temporary staff (or contractors) to help fill last minute shifts or gaps in their schedule. Unfortunately, they often have trouble when it comes to recruitment.

Finding reliable temporary staffing is a vital part of providing residents with high-quality care. If temporary staff have positive experiences during their time at new facilities, they’ll be more likely to go back again – and might consider joining that facility full-time.

Most healthcare professionals notice these five things when working at Long Term Care (LTC) facilities:

  • The welcome and support they receive from the team
  • Their working conditions
  • Whether they receive recognition for their work
  • How well the care team works together
  • Whether they’re listened to or not

So, how can you make sure temporary staff have a great experience at your healthcare facility?

Set them up for success

1. Tell your team

It’s best to tell your team about the temporary staff member before they arrive. Cover things like:

  • When the temp staff member will be on site
  • How long they’ll be working with you
  • Their focus at your facility
  • Their level of experience

If you plan to make a permanent team member responsible for training and supervising the temporary staff member, tell them well in advance. It’s also important to make paramedical and medical teams aware of what the temporary staff member will be doing.

Encourage your team to welcome the temporary healthcare professional and speak with them throughout the day. After all, teamwork and kindness are key to a positive experience and work environment.

2. Prepare in advance

Make sure your temporary staff member has everything they need to work properly during their shift: equipment, computer access and keys to the right rooms and buildings. These things will help them have a successful day.

It’s also important to train the temporary healthcare professional on:

  • Fire prevention and safety
  • Emergency and evacuation procedures

You might also want to introduce your home’s Mission Statement, plus policies about zero tolerance of abuse and neglect of residents, and mandatory reporting. Don’t forget to cover:

  • Minimizing the restraining of residents
  • Procedures on handling complaints
  • Safe and correct use of equipment
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of equipment

Finally, make sure you give the staff member a booklet containing the hospital plan, the organizational service chart, breaks and mealtimes, and the contacts they might need if they have questions or want to get a second opinion on something.

3. Send a welcome guide

It can be helpful to send temp staff a welcome guide before they begin working with you. Let them know how long before shifts you expect them to arrive, who will welcome them, their responsibilities for the day, and so on.

When temporary staff members don’t have a full understanding of what’s expected of them, they can feel stressed. Providing information up front can help them know what to expect, so they’re prepared and ready to provide the best possible care.

Be welcoming

It’s important to greet the temporary staff member when they arrive, to make them feel welcome. Your facility is new to them, and they might have a challenging day ahead of them.

Assign one of your permanent team to say hello and show them around. That way, they’ll soon become familiar with your facility and procedures. Your permanent team member can act as a mentor for the day, answer questions and make the temporary staff member feel at home.

Communicate clearly

It’s important to communicate well with temporary staff members so they can easily understand how things work.

Tell them your rules, best practices and schedule. Make sure they know how to act around residents and staff. Also, let them know what tasks are a priority and who to contact if something comes up.

Then, check if they feel comfortable with their assigned tasks. If they don’t, guide them through what to do (including the use of equipment they haven’t used before).

Ask the temporary healthcare professional if there are tasks that they prefer or feel more comfortable with. When you assign tasks, make sure you talk about why they’re essential, how they’re typically done and when they need to be done by.

Finally, remind team members that you have a temporary staff member on site that day, and introduce them to your newcomer. Providing a warm welcome will help ensure that the day goes smoothly for everyone.

Provide and ask for feedback

As their day wraps up, take a moment to ask your temporary healthcare professional for feedback, and let them know how you feel the day went. As we mentioned earlier, recognition, appreciation and support can help motivate and retain temporary staff members.

Here are a few more reasons to hold an end-of-day debrief:

  • You can reflect on how the temporary healthcare professional performed, where they excelled and what they need to do differently next time.
  • You can also get a sense of what their needs and wants are for future shifts, and ask them if they want to come back.

If you’re impressed with the temporary staff member and want them to return for future shifts, make sure they know it.

Temporary healthcare professionals are in demand – and nearly all of them want to remain in temporary roles. Do what you can to retain them so you don’t need to start from scratch with a new person.

In conclusion

If you can make temporary staff members feel welcome, explain your policies and procedures clearly and help them understand what you expect them to do, they’re more likely to feel at home – and come back again.

Create a playbook for temporary staff, including a welcome checklist, a guidebook and pre-shift emails to make it as easy as possible for them to settle in. Speak to your HR department, medical team and administrators to make sure they’re also ready to work with temporary staff members.

When temporary staff members are successful, your entire team can provide residents with high-quality care. It’s a win-win situation.

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