published on
March 11, 2022

Why are there Less Agency Shifts for Nurses and Carers During COVID-19?

posted on
COVID-19: Nurses & Carers

If you’re an independent nurse or carer, you’ll have seen many new challenges added to your working life during the coronavirus pandemic. 

One change many hadn’t anticipated, though, is the lower shift demand from care homes and other care providers. 

Surely, with a higher need for sickness cover, there should be more shifts than ever right now? 

We know, from hearing your feedback, this isn’t the case for many of you. 

It’s a challenge faced by agency and bank staff across the NHS and social care (as covered by the RCNi here) - not just those using Florence

Here, we’ll explain the reasons behind the lower shift availability, as well as what we’re doing to help increase work opportunities for you.

Why am I seeing less shifts?

Care providers are reducing their available shifts for several reasons. 

First, coronavirus’s devastating toll on care homes has meant sudden lower levels of resident occupancy - which reduces the need for extra staff. 

Second, anecdotally, we’re hearing there is less staff sickness than the government’s original projected 30% - which again decreases the need for cover.

Finally, and with perhaps the highest impact - the government’s 600m infection control fund for care homes has terms and conditions. To receive funding, care homes must agree to employ staff who work with them exclusively, to reduce the risk of passing infection between homes. This is an option many are taking.

How can I get more shifts?

We offer exclusive contracts, and several ways to work with care providers for longer periods of time. It’s also possible to find more shifts on Florence by changing your filters. 

1. Florence Exclusive

Our Florence Exclusive feature allows you to book exclusive work contracts with care providers for one, two or three-months-plus periods of work, as well as permanent contracts. We’ll connect you with a local care provider who’s looking for an exclusive care-giver for an extended period. 

You must agree to work only with the care provider during the contract period. Email your account manager or to let us know you’re interested in hearing about opportunities. 

2. Block-booking shifts

Florence will prompt care providers you’ve already worked with and who rate you highly to block-book you. This does not involve signing a contract, it simply means you’ll agree to work a series of shifts at the same care facility.

Your account manager will be in touch to let you know if a care provider requests to block-book you. Don’t hesitate to let your account manager know you’re interested in hearing about block-booking, and they can work together with you to look for local opportunities.

3. Changing your shift filters

Update the filters you use to find shifts on Florence, and you may be able to uncover more work. This could mean increasing your distance to travel, days of the week you can work, or looking at both day and night shifts.

When will there be more shifts?

As the sector adapts to working in a COVID-19 world, we fully expect to see shifts increase. After all, circumstances that created the demand for agency staff still exist in our health and social care system. 

However, it’s not possible to predict when we’ll see pre-pandemic levels of shift availability. 

Rest assured we’re always looking to improve your working life - whether that’s by enabling you to adapt to care-givers’ needs and work exclusive contracts (as outlined above), or by offering professional learning opportunities to widen your skillset. 

Our schedule of online training webinars is increasing every month (look out for emails announcing the next dates), and free accredited courses are always available at Florence Academy.  

Want to join Florence?

If you haven’t signed up to Florence, but are looking to increase your options for finding work as an independent nurse or carer, we’d love to welcome you to our community.

Florence helps you take control - you choose the shifts you want to work, and build your own schedule. Timesheets and payments are managed on Florence, too, with no paper or chasing signatures needed.

See how we’re different from other agencies here - join a nursing agency or Florence?

Register now to be connected to single shifts and fixed term contract opportunities with care homes in your area.

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