Five Ways Home Care Organizations Can Stabilize Their Workforce

Quality of care requires an engaged workforce. Here are five ways to reduce turnover and increase caregiver satisfaction so your patients can receive the quality care they deserve.

Covid-19 illuminated concerns already top of mind for healthcare executives, including workforce instability and turnover. While ubiquitous headlines lament the continued, if not escalated, issues around staff recruitment, engagement, and retention, some organizations have prevailed. They’ve taken a unique approach to stabilizing their workforce, and their innovations are paying off.

A 2019 Retention Report by Work Institute shared that 77 percent of the reasons employees leave are preventable. To attract and retain staff, leaders must get a grasp on these underlying reasons and find creative solutions to address such reasons before they arise.

Let’s consider five opportunities to improve caregiver experiences and stabilize your workforce.

1. Upskill Your Staff

Per the Work Institute report, 22 percent of employees leave due to lack of career development. In addition to mandatory compliance and regulation training, employers can offer courses aligned to degrees or accreditations that strengthen and deepen their teams’ expertise. After all, empowered employees produce better outcomes and deliver a higher standard of care.

Though healthcare training isn’t required for home care aides, it is an exciting option for your staff to add certifications to their resumes. Home healthcare CNAs will also see the opportunity to bolster their skill set while at your agency as a reason to stay. With the continuously blurred lines between home health agencies, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF-at-home), and other hybrid care models, it’s advantageous to have a more skilled team of care providers to support the changing needs of your organization and target demographic.

Online caregiver training platform CareAcademy recently launched the CAREer Path Initiative for home healthcare agencies. This program provides a comprehensive training curriculum for caregivers, college accredited coursework, and pairs caregivers with mentors and other resources. Through the CAREer Initiative, you can actively suggest courses and tracks for your team. Your agency has the option to lead the curriculum, so you can offer the certification and skill courses on topics most suitable for your team.

Home care aides can also leverage CareAcademy’s education partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to earn credits toward a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or CNA certification.

Another option is HealthTrainU™, an online training program that is part of ACHCU, the educational division of ACHC. Like CareAcademy, this employee-sponsored program allows caregivers to take courses based on your agency’s needs, but learning opportunities don’t end there. Orthotics, Assistive Technologies, Respiratory Therapy, or even Retail Sales are some of the 40+ courses available to your CNAs––courses they might not have otherwise taken due to personal budget or timing constraints. Such certification opportunities might help your caregivers discover new passions (with the certifications to boot) all while supplying the tools needed to perform their job successfully. 

Partnering with companies like CareAcademy is a shortcut to strengthening your workforce’s capabilities. Michelle Cone, SVP of Training & Brand at HomeWell Franchising attributes partnerships like these to her brand’s success as an agency leader. “Our franchise owners are able to focus on running the business because they know the caregiver training is taken care of through strong partnerships.” 

Upskilling your existing team is cost-effective. It augments career pathing so your most efficient caregivers see greater possibility within their roles. What’s more, it will lessen the cost of sourcing and hiring new aides. 

Offering caregivers the possibility to develop new capabilities will cultivate greater trust in your organization and encourage longer tenure.

2. Gamify the Employee Experience

Gamification is a concept widely adopted in tech, incentivizing engagement and activities to drive results. Companies like Duolingo and Fitbit have paved the way by gamifying the goals of learning a new language or training for a marathon. The gamification genius lies in parsing out large ambitions into smaller stepping stones, and celebrating success along the way. Complete a lesson? Receive a badge! Ran a combined 100 miles? Receive a congratulatory notification! Celebrating each small milestone in the journey offers encouragement and excitement, motivating users to keep up the good work.

Healthcare startup Medflyt wants to apply this idea within the home healthcare space. Their app Caregiver already provides aides with easy access to scheduling, compliance training, and communication with both patients and agency personnel. Adding gamification to these capabilities could reinvigorate staff enthusiasm and subsequent job satisfaction.

Many caregiver tasks are repetitive – and over time, this can wear on morale, productivity, and overall job satisfaction and performance. “Caregivers are more likely to be compliant with documentation and tasks when they are rewarded immediately via their smartphone app. Then, those rewards can translate to other tangible rewards, like a bonus or entry into a drawing, at their agency” shares Medflyt COO Levi Pavlovsky. Monotonous daily tasks transform into a fun challenge when there are rewards at stake. 

Without gamification, your staff simply logs their notes from patient meetings. But when each note counts as a ticket toward a raffle for an extra bonus or a spa day, rote work feels less monotonous. And thus, caregivers will be more encouraged to conduct their work more thoroughly and frequently.

Additionally, many aides travel between appointments during the day and lack the stimulation and camaraderie that experiences in office and facility settings naturally impart. Gamification can bridge that gap and create a newfound sense of inclusion and community. Perhaps each milestone is met with a positive message from the caregiver’s manager; a picture of their patient with an appreciative message; picking up an extra shift to cover a fellow aide or a new patient warrants points toward PTO; or, consistent punctuality from EVV inputs results in a cash bonus. While the caregiver might not be onsite with a large team, receiving rewards and  encouraging messages from their community and agency management can fill these needs and enhance employee experience.

3. Recruit Older Demographics

According to caregiver.org, the average age of a home care aide is 49.2. But at Seniors Helping Seniors, a Pennsylvania-based franchise offering a range of aide services exclusively to seniors from seniors, aides are usually 60 years of age and older. Co-founder Kiran Yocom first recognized an opportunity when she herself was an aide, noticing that “families were often too busy to sit with their elders.. to have a friend come and share their time with them would [allow each to give and receive love].”

Some older individuals transitioning into home care resist lifestyle changes or don’t want to accept any help. But senior companions understand the nuances of aging and can help with these adjustments. The care that a Senior provides to a peer is based on a unique sense of companionship and understanding. Caregivers in other age groups can’t connect on this level regardless of training or empathy.

Programs like Seniors Helping Seniors provide older individuals an opportunity to get back to work and offer agencies high-quality personnel who have honed a strong work ethic during their careers. But this business model doesn’t only provide heartwarming anecdotes; it’s actually resulted in a more dependable workforce.

President of Seniors Helping Seniors, Namrata Yocom-Jan, has seen a large reduction in turnover amongst her Senior caregivers. “These are people who’ve had careers. It’s a way for them to supplement their income and, at the same time, they have a heart for volunteering. They realize this is like volunteering and helping someone in need, while getting paid for it.”

This model can be extended within home healthcare too. Retired nurse Mary Ann Rodgers found a second career in home healthcare at Right at Home West Dundee, Illinois. “Because I’ve worked in acute health settings, I know how to look beyond the disease process and see the person,” Rodgers says. Her new role as a caregiver gives her greater work schedule flexibility compared to her previous positions as an RN within hospital systems, while also allowing her to continue doing what she loves – provide quality care. 

Recruiting Seniors as caregivers is a win all around – it offers meaningful work to the provider, a trusting companion for your patients, and a reliable employee for your agency.

4. Listen to Your Caregivers

58 percent of employees wish their company conducted employee engagement surveys more frequently. Your caregivers want their voice to be heard – are you providing the right platform to do so?

Eliciting employee feedback can meaningfully improve workforce morale. While complaint boxes and periodic reviews can garner suggestions of substance, “pulsing” your caregivers is a more effective route to actively improving employee experience.

Employee experience technology Home Care Pulse sends out short, frequent surveys to both clients and caregivers. These “pulses” gather and analyze feedback from select samples of staff and clients in a fully automated way – reducing the time office staff would need to spend combing through notes and manually assessing key areas for improvement. Conducting surveys incrementally — rather than biting it all off at once — can be paramount to uncovering actionable data.  In addition, sometimes your staff did not fully recognize their own underlying needs and requests until prompted to articulate them.

Pulsing can be done via email or by app straight to your caregivers. Pulses are anonymous, empowering your quieter staff to speak their mind with no hesitation. Amplify the voices of your workforce; seeking to understand and address their needs as providers will strengthen your agency and foster greater worker satisfaction in their roles.

5. Use AI to Retain Your Workforce

A survey by Home Health Care News and Homecare Homebase noted that 41 percent of survey organizations said staffing changes will be the greatest area of expense this year. Turnover, training costs, and contract workers make up a bulk of this statistic. But what if you could more confidently determine if your caregivers are going to stick around?

Arena uses predictive analytics and data science to identify individuals most likely to thrive in roles – before they are hired. These predictions are formulated from job applicant data, your organization, recent hires, and publicly-available localized labor/market data. This contextual and continuous analysis reveals the likelihood of prospective caregivers to produce outcomes such as retention, engagement, attendance, and patient satisfaction.

With so much time spent recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding caregivers, employers can benefit from the shortcut provided by predictive analytics. There’s no more accurate method of aligning individuals to positions where they will most likely thrive in your organization. Reducing the amount of time and budget spent on hiring practices — particularly rehiring for the same position over the course of a year — will free up time for your team to do what they do best – provide quality care.

As home healthcare evolves, the importance of a stable workforce will remain. The workforce of the future will be shaped by new programs and technologies that can better gauge caregiver needs. Understanding why providers come and go – and offering greater opportunities, is vital to stabilizing your team and the quality of care for your patients.

To learn more about the way predictive analytics and machine learning can inform the hiring process, contact us for a briefing.