What Does a Mentoring Program Look Like?
Here are the basic steps:
1. Introduction. A new caregiver meets their caregiver mentor at orientation.
2. Initial training. The caregiver mentor accompanies the new caregiver to the first 2 hours or so of their first appointment, in order to introduce them to the client and get them started off on the right foot. They may also take a role in other aspects of the new caregiver’s training.
3. Weekly calls between mentors and new caregivers. In addition to meeting at regular trainings or other events, the caregiver mentor calls the new caregiver for a few minutes at a scheduled time every week. They talk about how things are going, answer any questions, and listen to any ideas or suggestions that the new caregiver has on how to provide better care to clients.
4. Regular calls between caregiver mentors and mentor leads. Caregiver mentors talk one-on-one with a mentor lead periodically to discuss the needs of their caregivers.
5. Ongoing training for mentors. The mentor leads provide ongoing leadership training to groups of caregiver mentors to help them more effectively help their caregivers.
6. Graduation. After 60-90 days (depending on what you find works best), your new caregivers graduate from a mentoring program. In a few months, they can become mentors themselves.
Best Practices in Implementing a Caregiver Mentor Program
It’s important to remember that because the purpose of a caregiver mentor program is to address the specific needs of your caregivers, you should feel free to experiment and alter your program based on your own agency’s circumstances. However, these are some other best practices that will usually help a caregiver mentor program deliver the best possible results:
Provide a wage increase and/or other compensation to caregiver mentors and mentor leads. While wages add up, a well-implemented program will likely save you thousands of dollars on turnover costs annually. You may consider using an incentive-based pay system that pays based on the number of caregivers in their stewardship who graduate from the program.
Provide a physical token of achievement to caregivers upon graduation, as well as to their mentors and mentor leads. This may be a certificate, a pin, or something else creative and unique to your agency. You may also include gift cards or other perks. Everyone involved in the process should be rewarded and recognized when a caregiver graduates from their mentoring program.
Remember the role of a caregiver mentor program and recognize what it is not. A caregiver mentor program, while a powerful tool, should not be viewed as a substitute to supervisory visits, as your primary training program, or as a way to compensate for a poor hire. If it’s taking away resources from core processes such as recruitment or training, you should rethink how you’re implementing your program.
Getting Your Team on Board
Your caregiver mentor program will be successful and deliver powerful benefits to your home care agency as your agency commits fully to it. To accomplish this, your company needs to be on board at all levels. Getting buy-in from your employees, including office staff and caregivers, will increase their enthusiasm and participation. Demonstrate to them how the program will help them personally in their roles and how it will take your agency to the next level by prioritizing the success of your caregivers.
What other questions do you have about caregiver mentor programs? Let us know in the comments below!