3 Keys to Make Your Home Care Agency a Long-Term Destination for Caregivers

Home Care Office Staff Hiring Tips

Higher pay isn’t the only factor that can insulate you from the caregiver turnover crisis and position your agency as a place where caregivers plan to stay for a long time. 

Any home care agency owner knows that one of the hottest topics in home care is the caregiver turnover crisis.

There’s consensus among many industry experts that with present economic conditions, the turnover crisis may not be fully solved until the home care industry finds a way to make caregiving a career destination for more caregivers.

It’s important to recognize that not all the factors that might make caregiving a more desirable career destination are within your control; some important ones, like the ability to pay your caregivers significantly higher wages while preserving your margins, may not be reasonable until larger shifts happen in the industry and the economy.

However, there are still many levers you can pull to help make your agency a long-term place to stay rather than a pit stop.  You can gain a strong competitive advantage by focusing on the areas that are within your control. Here are three keys that I believe are essential to making your home care agency a long-term destination for caregivers:

Key #1: Understand the persona of your ideal caregiver and focus your recruitment strategy on areas and channels that target this persona.

You should focus on finding individuals whose primary goal is to give care and are more motivated by meaning than money. This sounds easier said than done, and it is—but I’ve seen agencies do it, and I did it in my own agency. I found this to be a very powerful way to keep my turnover down and my quality up while I was a home care owner.

Here’s some ideas on how you might accomplish this:

You’ve probably noticed a few caregivers who stand as being truly focused on being a caregiver. They might be at a place in life where they’re financially stable and are looking for something meaningful to fill their time, part of a cultural community that places strong emphasis on caring for their elders, or they might just care a lot more about why they’re working than what that they’re earning. Different areas may have different groups or demographics that fit this persona, but they’re out there and you’ve probably seen them.

Figure out the commonalities between these caregivers in your area, and concentrate on networking and advertising in the channels, areas, and social circles that these individuals frequent. For example, you might network within volunteer organizations to look for individuals who want to use their time to do good but still need to make money. As appropriate, you might also advertise within the newsletter of church groups or other service organizations.

I’ve noticed some home care agencies focusing on recruiting service-minded individuals who fit this description by offering paid volunteer time off as one of the main features of their benefits package. That strategy may not be financially feasible for every agency, but it’s the type of thinking that will attract the individuals that you want.

Obviously, it’s any home care owners dream to find lots of caregivers who—more than anything—just want to take care of people. If reducing caregiver turnover was this that simple, everyone would be doing it. This strategy might not be easy, but it is possible, and I’ve seen the very powerful results it yields when done correctly.

A quick disclaimer: it’s illegal to make hiring decisions based on factors like age, gender, or socioeconomic background. This is not what I am advocating. Your hiring decisions should always be made on a fair basis of individual merit and qualifications. But you can focus your recruitment efforts on getting the attention of groups that are most likely to yield lots of great caregivers, and then make your hiring decisions based on their individual capabilities.

Key #2: Create continual opportunities for upward progress.

Another element of making your agency a long-term destination for caregivers is by facilitating opportunities for them to keep learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. I have three main suggestions on how to do this:

  • Provide progressing levels of training and offer higher wages to caregivers who have the training and experience to take on more care-intensive clients.

  • Implement a caregiver mentor program that allows experienced caregivers to be promoted to caregiver mentors and mentor leads, where they can use their talents to train other caregivers.

  • Listen to your caregivers’ ideas on ways that you can provide them opportunities to grow and develop their skills as caregivers. You might use a tool such as our client/caregiver satisfaction surveys to gather specific feedback on what they want or don’t want.

Key #3: Promote a unified, energized company culture.

Focusing on developing your company’s culture will create pride in your company and combat the tendency of caregivers to feel isolated since comparatively little of their time is spent with other caregivers. Simply stated, use your company culture to make your agency an organization that caregivers just love to be a part of.

Here are some tips for doing this:

  • Begin regular training meetings with fun get-to-know-you activities so that caregivers can get to know each other and make friends.

  • Hold company events like service projects and barbecues to promote unity and solidify your company’s identity as a service-driven group of people. A few weeks ago, Home Care Pulse employees and family members organized a service project laying sod at a community baseball diamond. It was a good time and helped to keep us service-minded.

  • Get employees’ input on creating a mission statement and core values—then broadcast those values to your employees and make them a part of everything your company does. All of our hiring and other key decisions are driven by our core values at Home Care Pulse.

  • Use your company’s branding to give your agency a strong identity. Even simple things like wearing branded company clothing can contribute to the pride an employee feels in their company, so take advantage of that! Ensure that your logo and other branding are modern, visually appealing, and convey the core values of your company.

  • Be quick to reward excellent work—and make some of the recognition public.

A Broken Record

When we’re talking about the caregiver turnover crisis, myself and others at Home Care Pulse sometimes sound like a broken record because we always tie back to helping caregivers feel valued and engaged. What we’ve learned from a decade of research is that caregivers want to feel purpose, they want to see that their work is appreciated, and they want to know that their agency is actively working to facilitate their success.

Treat your caregivers the way you hope they’ll treat your clients, and you’ll find that many of your problems in home care are minimized.

It’s a great time to be in home care. Let’s improve lives together.

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