We may acknowledge just how essential the nomadic healthcare workforce has been in efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic, but what’s often overlooked is how and where these workers are being housed.
Did you know that one of the biggest issues for traveling nurse agencies isn’t the lack of nurses or nurses quitting, it’s finding adequate housing for traveling nurses?
We may acknowledge just how essential the nomadic healthcare workforce has been in efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic, but what’s often overlooked is how and where these workers are being housed. Further exacerbating the housing issue is that these nurses are often needed among smaller and rural communities – communities many housing providers overlook. Important sectors of the economy rely on these traveling healthcare workers, and they deserve a place to stay that is comfortable and affordable, and can house whatever needs to travel with workers during their stay. Simply put, traveling healthcare workers need a place that feels like home, but many of the services currently available are unable to sufficiently meet these needs.
Sometimes housing is handled by staffing agencies or organization administrators, but oftentimes the responsibility falls directly on the traveling nurses to secure accommodations. All three of these groups typically rely on hotels, vacation rentals, or corporate housing providers to find housing. However, traditional corporate housing is pricey and usually limited to large metro areas, while hotels and vacation rentals are designed for shorter stays measured in days or maybe weeks.
Property hoarding by real estate marketplaces further exacerbates the ongoing housing crunch, leaving fewer and fewer reasonable housing accommodations for nomadic healthcare workers, and further limiting workers’ ability to customize a living space. And even if the inventory is there, many vendors lack the infrastructure to enable an optimal customer experience. The good news is, there are alternative solutions that specialize in workforce housing-on-demand, a newer category of workforce housing that can simplify the process of finding monthly and short-term rentals for traveling workers. Whether you’re a staffing agency securing housing for traveling healthcare workers or you’re searching for your own housing, here are three tips to help optimize your search.
Start with location.
We’ll get into the importance of establishing “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” in searching for temporary housing, but at the core of that search is location. By familiarizing yourself with the general location, you can get a better handle on the housing situation and start to build out the most suitable options available. Where is the assigned hospital or clinic located? What’s the general cost of living in the area? Is the neighborhood rural or in a city? How will the worker commute to their assignment? Is there an accessible grocery store or pharmacy nearby? Convenience, safety, and affordability are all key factors to consider, and the more detailed a picture you can paint of the location, the better equipped you’ll be able to successfully address your or your clients’ more specific housing needs. If you’re working with a third party, knowing location, proximity requirements, etc., helps their search efforts as well. Workforce housing-on-demand solutions often have a flexible inventory that reaches beyond main metropolitan areas. For example, specialized solutions such as Furnished Finder work directly with landlords to source monthly furnished rentals, which is particularly important when looking for housing in areas with traditionally lower inventory.
Establish must-haves and nice-to-haves.
Assignments for traveling healthcare workers are often only three, six, or nine month stays, but having a comfortable place to call home during that time is still important. Once you answer questions about location, you or your clients need to determine priorities when it comes to more specific housing accommodations. What do they need to feel at home, and what do they want to feel at home? Establishing the must-have amenities such as solid WiFi or room for the workers’ family, for example, makes it easier to further target options that have the nice-to-have amenities, such as a home office, a big backyard for a dog, an in-unit laundry machine in an apartment, and more.
Another important consideration is the must-have of sleep! Are you or your client working a lot of night shifts? If so, suitable sleeping arrangements and a quiet neighborhood, may be more of a “need” than a “want.”Let’s face it, no one wants to be near a highway or a busy shopping center if they need to sleep during the day. Staffing agencies should maintain a direct line of communication with traveling healthcare clients to ensure the must-haves are covered, so they can then focus on as many of the nice-to-haves as possible. A higher level of customization can make employees feel less stressed and more at ease the second they walk in the door of their short-term rental. Any workforce housing-on-demand partner should also be aware of what’s needed versus what’s wanted so they can further tailor their inventory searches as well.
Lean into resources.
One of the biggest issues I’ve seen in my own experience is that too much time is spent on searching, and we’ve had numerous customers tell us that they would spend on average five to ten hours searching for the right rental when searching on their own. It’s important to lean into resources, because there are many available! Workforce housing-on-demand solutions make great partners for individuals and staffing agencies to make the search more bearable. The moment you or your client finds out they need short-term housing, you should take full advantage of these resources and maintain an open line of communication throughout the process.
Healthcare workers have had a significantly greater amount of stress over the last two years, and as the need for these essential workers remains steady, it’s vital that they have the best accommodations possible. Following these tips can make finding the right housing an easier and less stressful task for individuals and staffing agencies. When these workers have places to stay that feel like a home away from home, it takes away a little of that burden that comes with being a traveling healthcare worker.
Photo: izzetugutmen, Getty Images