By Carlos Abisambra, CEO of Travelers Haven
Temporary housing for traveling healthcare and frontline workers became a major priority over the past two years as Covid cases surged in different cities across the United States. As vaccination demand increases, the Delta variant spreads, and travel for the general public continues to open, the need for temporary housing for healthcare workers remains high; yet with the current housing shortage, options for housing are looking bleak and getting thinner by the day.
In this climate, it’s more challenging than ever to get resources and talent to the places they’re needed the most. These all-important traveling nurses and other healthcare workers are sent to new assignments for months at a time; having a comfortable home away from home is critical to helping them rest and recharge after long, often stressful days. Staying in a hotel for that long gets old, and can’t provide the personal comforts and touches of home; on the other hand, trying to find an AirBnB with the right amenities in the right area can be time-consuming and overwhelming. This leaves hospital administrators, health care centers, and sometimes even the workers themselves navigating an already complicated housing market to try and find the perfect short-term housing solution – one that offers the right balance of location and accommodations to ensure healthcare workers can focus on doing what they do best.
Partnering with a third party can help; companies that specialize in workforce housing on-demand typically have access to more inventory than traditional corporate housing companies, so it’s easier to accommodate unique requests – like when Medical Solutions, a leading healthcare staffing solutions provider, had to find an apartment for a traveling nurse that also accommodated her large dog breed. As a company that places health care professionals on a short-term basis at more than 1,600 hospitals across the country, Medical Solutions saved on its total housing costs by more than 8.5 percent by working with a partner, who was also able to minimize security deposit losses, postage and FedEx expenses, and vacancy costs from early lease terminations. But its biggest savings was time, eliminating the need for its team to vet and procure housing as well as utilities, furniture, and more.
So what are the most important things that essential workers are looking for from their short-term housing? Consider these three top requests:
- No commute. With the Delta variant specifically, the CDC is anticipating continued outbreaks in smaller, rural areas. Requests for short-term housing outside the big cities continue to grow at a rapid pace, with 66 percent of demand happening in cities with less than 200,000 people. After working a 12-hour shift, the last thing a healthcare worker wants to do is have a long commute to an unfamiliar home in a remote part of town. That makes finding housing within walking distance or access to public transportation of the hospital more important than ever.
- Peace and quiet. While being close to work is important, it’s equally critical for temporary health care workers to find a home or building that shuts out the light and noise of the outside world. The nature of the healthcare profession is that duty can call at any time of day. Nurses and doctors are used to having periods of time spent on the night shift, and temporary housing must be set up with sleep in mind. Quiet surroundings are a must, so if the housing is in a major city or busy downtown, consider a building with adequate soundproofing. Blackout shades are also a must for anyone on the night shift. Sleeping through the day is already hard enough, so short-term housing has to be equipped to provide traveling nurses and other workers with enough sleep so they can give their patients the best possible care during their shifts.
- An extra bedroom or workspace. Demand for short-term apartments with two bedrooms or more increased to surpass 40% of total requests last quarter, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. What we’ve found, though, is that these extra rooms are not necessarily being used as bedrooms; in most cases, it’s being converted into a home office or workspace that can be used separately from the main sleeping area. For nurses and other healthcare workers, having a dedicated space with room for charts and paperwork is a huge help. Others may prefer to use the extra space as a home gym when working long shifts or taking extra Covid precautions doesn’t allow them time to make it out to the actual gym.
As we continue to fight Covid and its variants, there’s no end in sight for the need for traveling nurses. Highly personalized housing and custom accommodations will continue to be important to healthcare staffers across the country. It’s time to make sure they’re getting the options they deserve.