Caregiver shortages aren’t a new problem, but they are getting worse. Here’s how we’ve adapted.

If you’re one of the 94% of agencies who have had to turn down a case recently because of a lack of caregivers, I’m writing this directly to you. 

A few days ago, we launched our new brand. You may have received the email about it, seen our page explaining the changes, or attended our webinar.  

Whether or not you’ve seen those, I want to give more context on what some colors on our website have to do with solving the caregiver shortage problems facing your business. 

Temporary Respites Might Come, But Caregiver Shortages Are A Long-Term Problem

Caregiver shortages aren’t a new problem, but they are getting worse.  

Events over the last year, primarily—but not limited to—the pandemic, have compounded to create the perfect storm of hiring challenges for home care agencies.  

Factors like unemployment benefits, healthcare worker burnout, and a job seeker’s market all play into the hiring challenges you’re seeing currently. And while some of these factors may go away, temporarily making it easier to hire caregivers, researchers still forecast a growing shortage of caregiver labor.  

The writing on the wall is that home care agencies who want to continue growing will need to find long-term strategies to address caregiver shortages, because the problem isn’t going to go away. 

Agencies Are Chasing Quick Wins Out of Necessity, But They Need a Long-Term Strategy

We often look at hiring from a “quick wins” perspective rather than as a long-term strategy. It’s easy to understand why; when a caregiver no-shows, no one is answering the call to fill the shift, and there’s a queue of new clients waiting for their case to be staffed, a quick win is what you need.  

There are a variety of tools that can sometimes deliver these quick wins. Things like faster communication, better job postings, and improved applicant tracking can all help to make the most of the applicants you’re receiving.  

Used properly, these approaches can greatly improve applicant conversion rates and help you hire a greater number of caregivers from the applications you’re receiving.  

Long-term, however, you’ll be chasing quick wins day after day unless you invest in a strategy to correct the problem. These approaches won’t solve the problem if the problem is that there aren’t enough applicants in the first place.  

That’s where the winning long-term strategy comes in. 

Building an Employer Brand that Attracts Caregiver Applicants

As businesses, we understand the importance of building brands that pull potential clients to come to us. However, we often underestimate just how much the same principle applies to attracting employees. 

If you’re trying to hire more caregivers and your first step is to evaluate your hiring processes, you’ve already made your first mistake.  

Better hiring starts with a better caregiver experience. 

The winning strategy in the future will be to create a rock-solid employer brand; in other words, earn a reputation as the best place in your local market for caregivers to work—and make sure everyone knows about it.  

Harder than it sounds? Of course.  

The catch is that most agencies aren’t using all the tools available to them, and they aren’t using them as part of a cohesive plan.  

There are three core pieces to this strategy: 

  1. Understanding the experience you’re providing to caregivers—including recognizing whatever gaps you might have 
  2. Taking the right steps to improve it 
  3. Getting the word out  

Caregiver experience is multi-faceted. Even the best-run agencies with the most capable management have room to improve. Factors like ongoing training, communication, pay, supervisors, orientation, mentoring, and career ladders all impact the experience a caregiver has with your company. 

Taking all of these into account and having the vulnerability to recognize where you can improve will give you a powerful edge over other employers in your area.  

While it’s a sad reality—for now—that overall, there simply aren’t enough care workers to meet the current demand in our country, individual agencies that adopt a long-term strategy to build employment brands will be able to sidestep the worst of the caregiver shortages.  

This strategy works. We’ve seen agencies reduce caregiver turnover to a fraction of the industry average and attract many more caregiver applicants than agencies in their surrounding area.  

It’s not easy, and it’s not a quick fix. But it works. 

What We’re Doing to Help

While many agencies know us for our Benchmarking Study, blogs, podcast, or other educational tools, our main products are Experience Management (surveys), Caregiver/Clinician Training, and Reputation Management.  

Over the last several years, we’ve adapted these core tools to mirror the three pieces of the winning caregiver recruitment strategy I’ve discussed here:  

  • Understanding the gaps in your caregiver experience 

  • Building an even better caregiver experience 

  • Broadcasting it to applicants in your local market 

Our new visual brand, made public Tuesday, was done to call attention to the ways that we’re changing to help with this problem.  

Our first step is to move all three tools into one software platform; agencies that choose to use multiple tools can access them from a single login and quickly tab between them, making it easier for management teams to create and execute strategic plans that combine the benefits of all three functions.  

We’re calling it the Care Intelligence Platform. 

(If you’re a current HCP customer, know that all the tools and reports you’re used to using will still be there. Beginning in the next few weeks, you’ll see the platform look a little different, including tabs for the different tools.) 

What we’ve realized from years of helping agencies conduct surveys, implement training, and manage their online reputations is that these processes are far more successful when agencies: 

  1. Use all three processes (many agencies neglect one or more of these pillars, especially review management) 
  2. Create a strategic plan that encompasses all three processes 
  3. Treat them as one overall, unified process by recognizing and taking advantage of the ways in which they can help each other 

A few examples of how these functions help each other: 

  • Training is far more effective when it’s administered based on preferences gathered from caregiver feedback and needs assessed based on client feedback.  

  • Building a strong online reputation is much easier when there’s a strong experience management program (survey program) solving problems before they have the chance to turn into negative online reviews 

  • Surveys are far more impactful when they’re paired a reputation management program that amplifies the good things happening in your agency out to the community 

We’ve offered all three tools for over a year; however, we’re adapting them to better empower agencies to build strong employer brands that attract applicants.  

This change alone (combining tools into one platform) is significant, as this is the first platform of its kind to offer these three tools together to home care agencies.  

Beyond this first change, however, there will be more. We’re building out more features to make the most of the ways that the tools can help each other and making major investments in further improving each tool to maximize its effectiveness for you.  

In other words, this is just the beginning. 

Tomorrow Belongs to the Employers Who Care the Most

Ultimately, any agency’s success with these tools will come down to their willingness to put their caregivers first and make the changes/sacrifices necessary to become a truly standout employer. 

If you want to attract caregivers to your agency when they could easily choose to work somewhere else, build an agency caregivers love working for. 

Tomorrow belongs to the employers who care most. 

Will you be one of them? 

Best regards, 

Erik Madsen 

HCP’s Care Intelligence Platform offers RN-developed training, satisfaction surveys, and reputation management tools to help you become the best employer and provider in your area—and make sure everyone knows about it.

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  1. Edith Nelson October 1, 2021 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Excellent information!!! I will be working to put these ideas into place to attract the right caregivers.

    • Jennifer Lagemann October 1, 2021 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Edith! We’re glad that you found this helpful. Please let us know if there’s any content that you would like to see or topics that you would like us to cover.

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