3 Reasons I Didn’t Like Using Agency Staff

Working with IntelyCare provided me with a totally different perspective on the value of having a partnership with a reliable healthcare hiring company.

Hannah Sison, BSN, RN

Before joining IntelyCare, I previously worked for a large senior living company as a Senior Resident Care Director. While there was always a need for nurse staffing, it became more pronounced during and after the pandemic. Many of our frontline staff left, yet the needs of our residents remained, if not increased. Still, I was one of the leaders who was very opposed to using agency staff. 

These concerns were for good reason, as they were born from the real experience we had working with staffing agencies where we saw the following primary concerns. 

  1. Low quality nurses
  2. No oversight and a lack of clinical knowledge at the agency
  3. Increased liability risk to the facility

1. Low Quality Nurses 

When we brought in agency staffing for support, we encountered several care and quality concerns. Numerous issues came up, such as no charting, unprofessional behavior, or a lack of ability to follow our residents’ plan of care. 

I felt like the agency staff often came with the mindset that they were just there to put in their hours and get paid. They were there as place-holders, not as supporting staff that added value in meeting residents’ needs. As a result, our team felt like bringing agency in actually created more work for everyone as more time was being taken out of an already busy schedule to do frequent follow ups, trainings, and responding to resident or family complaints.

2. No Oversight and a Lack of Clinical Knowledge at the Agency 

Another thing that stands out from my previous experience is the lack of solid oversight of the agency staff who were going into communities. Whenever there was a problem, I often found myself communicating with the agency’s liaison or at one point, even the agency’s vice president. 

While their support was much appreciated, none of them were clinical. I felt like they did not fully grasp the gravity of the care concerns. The response to our concerns was usually to send somebody else but included no plan whatsoever for avoiding similar issues in the future or implementing process improvements. Of course, I found this discouraging.

3. Increased Liability Risk to the Facility 

Lastly, having agency staff felt like there was an increase in liability because we ultimately did not know the background and experience the staff had prior to coming to our communities. Don’t get me wrong – there were some exceptions. Sometimes agency staff blended in so well it was as if they had been working with us for a long time. However, more often than not, the agency staff would fail to meet the most basic standards of nursing and care practice. 

As a result, we had to deal with incident reports that often had to be escalated to the Department of Health for reporting. Again, it felt like more work than relief was resulting from agency use.

Finding a Partner Instead of a Vendor

Working with IntelyCare provided me with a totally different perspective on the value of having a partnership with a reliable healthcare hiring company. My main concerns were addressed with a quality assurance team that focuses on nurse quality. This team employs nurses from across disciplines who really understand the issues, and they have a sophisticated and comprehensive credentialing process

Because of IntelyCare and their commitment to provide quality and improvement, I have turned from hesitant to being excited to see how our healthcare staffing model could evolve to better meet our residents’ and clients’ needs.

I am hopeful that the work IntelyCare is doing will pave the way for solving hiring challenges. Because at the end of the day, the residents and their well-being are at the center of each facility. Regardless of the hiring needs and challenges, the residents’ needs remain constant which is why it is important to provide a solution on how to meet them.

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