Article: Why Verify Attendance for Awake-Overnight Staff?

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Why Verify Attendance for Awake-Overnight Staff?

Author: Yvonne Zani Wightman
SteadyCare, May 2017

Why verify attendance for awake-overnight staff? Because planes crash, people get struck by lightning, and awake-overnight employees fall asleep. People purchase insurance when flying and seek shelter during storms even though the odds of being in a plane crash or being struck by lightning are slim to none. But you can bet the odds are high when it comes to awake-overnight staff falling asleep during their shift. Did someone say employees abandon their shift? Yes, it happens even though staff being relieved are mandated to wait for their relief. I know you find it hard to imagine that happening and so do I, but that is what agencies are dealing with on a daily basis. Agencies and the individuals they support can be protected with a proven and tested attendance verification system.

Most employees working in the human service field are amazing, but the reality is that many have to work multiple jobs and some are trying to put themselves through school while working, and what better time to work than the overnight shift. How does one stay awake if they are not sleeping at some other point during the day? The body not only needs sleep, but requires it.

The very first sales presentation I attended was with a large organization based in Boston. During the meeting there were approximately 20 people in attendance. One of the residential managers shared his concerns about overnight employees leaving the group home during their regularly scheduled shift. With this in mind he decided to make an unannounced visit to the group home in question and discovered that the overnight staff person was not on site.  The manager reported waiting at the home until the missing employee returned, or the next shift reported in, and around 6:00 am the missing employee pulled up with coffee in hand. Unfortunately this story is not uncommon.

Other cases include the following:

  • An agency in Virginia reported concerns the staff had abandoned their shift, leaving the group home securely locked with the deadbolt on.
  • An agency had to be involved in an unemployment hearing because one of their overnight employees was found sleeping on the couch, complete with a blanket and fully dressed in his pajamas. The employee told the agency he was observing his religious holiday and was praying and not sleeping.
  • In once case, an incident occurred at an agency before they decided to use our verification system—seven years after we initially approached them. What was their hesitation? They trusted their workforce until one day an incident happened during an employee’s awake-overnight shift. This particular employee was well respected, had an excellent personnel record, and had been with the agency for over 20 years. However, on the evening the incident occurred, this particular employee admitted to sleeping. The agency administrator soon realized if this trusted employee slept on the job, then others must be as well.

We have received numerous calls from across the nation from agencies looking to implement an attendance verification system as soon as possible. In most cases, because the incident in question was not the agency’s first and immediate action on the part of the agency was necessary.

From a positive standpoint, we were recently informed that the employees working in a group home in New Mexico were thankful SteadyCare’s attendance verification system was in place during the recent passing of one of the residents. Due to the death, an investigation was necessary. The state was thrilled to find supporting documentation from us as an independent third party showing employees checked in regularly during their overnight shift. This eliminated any questions about the overnight staff being negligent due to absenteeism or sleeping.

SteadyCare not only exposes what you may not know, it confirms some things you do know. It also recognizes the efforts of those employees that do stay awake throughout their shift. Contact us to learn more about how SteadyCare can help you manage your awake overnight staff.