New NI developed ‘PickaShift’ App set to revolutionise care home staffing

PickaShiftAn innovative new App, PickaShift, is expected to save care home providers in Northern Ireland hundreds of thousands of pounds per year while ensuring all staff shifts are covered.

The app which connects care workers and their employers in residential and nursing homes, informs staff quickly about shifts that have become available at short notice and encourages them to pick up those shifts at an increasingly favourable rate until the shift is claimed.

In the process, the home saves valuable time and money by avoiding lengthy periods ringing staff and saves on expensive agency fees.

The team behind the new app include experienced care home providers Liam Lavery and Peter Graham and former MLA and health spokesperson, Fearghal McKinney. The app took almost a year to develop with a sizable investment before bringing it to market.

Fearghal McKinney, one of the founders of PickaShift said: “The care home sector is heavily regulated to ensure standards are met by health and social care providers so that qualified staff are on duty at all times. Failure to do so has consequences for the provider.”

“Nursing and residential homes often face significant costs when it comes to filling shifts at short notice because of illness or holiday cover. The home does not have a choice – the shift must be filled to comply. It means they often must turn to expensive agencies.”

“As a response to this problem, we have developed PickaShift. In practical terms, the use of PickaShift means that the care home using the app will save in terms of costly administration and that a bigger pool of certified available staff can benefit from more work.  For employers and staff, both sides benefit, which ensures a consistent level of service provision for those in their care.”

Liam Lavery and Peter Graham both care home providers and founders of PickaShift added: “The idea of the PickaShift app was developed in direct response to the growing pressures that nursing and residential homes have found themselves in due to a growing ageing population and the scarcity of supply of staff.”

“Against the backdrop of pressured budgets, along with the strength of agencies in the market, homecare businesses are constantly looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity.”

“By helping to cut down on the administration process, and providing an alternative to expensive agency fees, Pickashift can help address these issues and provide significant savings.”

“When providing care, it is important that there is continuity and familiarity with the care workers and those they are taking care of. Pickashift works as it helps us as care home providers be more efficient, fill gaps in shift patterns and provides work and more shifts for employees seeking to earn more.” 

How ‘PickaShift works

  • Phase One:  The home elects to use Pickashift and encourages its full and part-time nursing and care staff to download the app to their phones or mobile devices.
  • Phase Two: When a shift needs filled at short notice, and there is a potential of an agency fee being paid, the home administrator puts it on the Pickashift system. The app alerts staff that a shift needs filled and encourages them, through an auction process, to bid for that shift.  With this initial simple process the home has already cut down on costs in terms of telephone calls and time.
  • Phase Three: The auction process.  The homes aim is to avoid the expensive agency fee.  In order to do so it may be prepared to pay a little more to its staff.  Using its unique tool Pickashift invites full-time and part-time staff to participate in a time-bound upward auction which they can bid into.  If someone wants the shift they bid by simply hitting a button and accepting it.  If not, each subsequent step of the auction becomes increasingly attractive until someone finally bids.

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