A little bit of effort to keep your caregivers in the loop goes a very long way toward retaining them.
Any home care owner knows how important it is to develop good relationships with clients. However, it can be easy to neglect this same need with caregivers. Building strong relationships with your caregivers will reduce your caregiver turnover, improve the care that they provide to your clients, and make your work more meaningful.
One of our focuses right now at Home Care Pulse is helping agencies develop the relationship that home care owners (and their office staff) have with their caregivers. I want to talk about some resources we’re providing to do this and give some specific advice from our research.
On September 12th and 26th of this month, our COO, Erik Madsen, will be hosting a free webinar, “The Top Ten Reasons Your Caregivers are Leaving and How to Keep Them”. Over 40,000 caregiver interviews contributed to the research for this webinar, and we’ve found some new and very definitive answers on addressing caregiver turnover that Erik will explain in depth during the webinar. I invite you all to attend the webinar and see how you can apply these findings in your own agency.
I’d like to address one strong theme that has emerged from this research: communicating with your caregivers. This topic has been on our radar from some time, and it seems to be becoming more and more pressing of an issue as caregiver turnover rates across the industry continue to rise.
According to the Home Care Benchmarking Study, most caregivers who leave your agency do so during their first 90 days with your agency. Often, caregivers leave due to a feeling of disconnect or lack of support during this crucial early period. Because of this, a major component of retaining caregivers during their first 90 days is to keep strong and consistent communication.
Here are four strategies you should apply to keep strong communication with all your caregivers—especially those in their first 90 days.
#1: Use a Caregiver Mentor Program
In additional to other forms of training and communication that you provide, a caregiver mentor is an important channel through which new caregivers can receive help, training, encouragement, and answers to questions. It’s important to show your caregivers from the beginning that they are important to your management team and that they have access to whatever help they need.
Eventually, these new caregivers will be able to become mentors to other caregivers. This provides a career ladder for them to climb that gives increased incentive for them to stay with your agency and build their professional value.
#2: Communicate for Relationships, Not Just Logistics
This is an absolutely critical lesson I learned early on in my time as a home care agency owner: if you’re only communicating with your caregivers when you need something from them, their trust and loyalty will wane over time. You should make contact just to check up on them from time to time and show genuine interest in them. This is true for their entire period of employment, not just the first 90 days.
A powerful way to demonstrate that you value your caregivers is to ask for their advice. You might ask, “Based on your experience caring for [client’s name], how do you think we can better work with them?” This shows them that their experience, work, and thoughts are valued.
No matter how well you think you’re doing, you should stop and take a moment for self-evaluation: How often do you talk to your caregivers for no other reason than to check how they’re doing?
#3: Don’t Cut Corners on Care Plans
No caregiver wants to feel like they’ve been thrown to the wolves. Unfortunately, many caregivers complain that they’re often thrust into caring for a new client without getting adequate background on the client’s needs and situation. They will feel more confident and be more equipped to provide the kind of care your client deserves if they are given as much information as possible beforehand.
Some of this frustration may come from confusion with using care plans properly. You can solve this problem by providing training on using care plans during your initial orientation with caregivers.
#4: Embrace Texting
Texting can be your secret weapon. It’s quick, it’s highly convenient, and it’s the preferred mode of communication for many of your caregivers. It also lets you send your message without interrupting if the caregiver is busy with a client. Additionally, it lets you stay in communication with a large number of caregivers for a minimum amount of effort.
Ways you should consider using texting to stay in contact with caregivers:
Sending quick texts to caregivers to check up on how they’re doing and ask if they need anything
Setting up SMS updates through your scheduling software to send mass updates or reminders (for instance, a reminder about a training meeting that evening). Ask your scheduling software provider if they offer SMS services.
Quickly finding caregivers to take a new shift. You might send out a mass text that announces a new open shift and indicates that the first caregiver to respond gets the shift
Use Every Tool in Your Retention Toolbox
The US economy is booming. The stock market recently hit an all-time high, and the job market has rarely looked better for job seekers. While this is great news in many ways, it means that recruiting and retaining caregivers is going to continue to get more competitive as the job market becomes more competitive for employers.
What can you do about this? Develop a great relationship with your caregivers and use every tool at your disposal to make your agency a place where caregivers love working.
Clear communication is one important tool to accomplish this. Other tools may include showing increased recognition to your caregivers, offering competitive wages and benefits, and providing great training to your caregivers. Using our Quality Management Program to get caregiver feedback will help you know the specific areas where your agency can improve. Above all, remember that your caregivers are the heart of your business and treat them accordingly.
It’s a great time to be in home care. Let’s change lives together.
Founder & CEO
Home Care Pulse
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