We’re Home Care Pulse, a leading provider of experience management & surveys, caregiver/CNA training, and online reputation management.

On average, it costs your agency a total of $19,500 to replace a single scheduler. Prevent these common mistakes that lead to scheduler burnout so you can invest their turnover cost towards training them instead.

What do a heartbeat, a linchpin, a VIP badge, a glue bottle, and the nucleus of a cell all have in common? All are metaphors used to describe the most vital role in your home care agency: your schedulers. 

For every 1 scheduler who quits, 5 caregivers will leave with them. According to our calculations and the Center for American Progress, it takes $2,600 to replace a caregiver and $6,500 to replace a scheduler. This means that losing one scheduler to preventable burnout could cost your agency around $19,500.

“A home care scheduler’s job is filled with challenges, pressures and occasional chaos. Their role is also the critical link that determines how satisfied caregivers are with your agency.”Linda Leekley, Chief Clinical Officer and Registered Nurse

If your focus is (understandably) on the largest caregiver shortage in history, it’s easy to lose sight of inefficiencies that are affecting your schedulers’ personal well-being and hindering your agency’s success. 

Learn how to recognize and prevent the mistakes that lead to scheduler burnout—before your scheduler walks out, taking 5 of your employees with them: 

  • Your scheduler isn’t involved in the onboarding process.

  • Your scheduler doesn’t have the time or resources to build long-term relationships with caregivers.

  • Your scheduler spends most of their time listening to complaints.

  • Your scheduler is overwhelmed trying to make everyone else happy.

  • Your scheduler is forced to rely on guesswork while matching caregivers to clients.

     

Mistake #1: Your scheduler isn’t involved in the onboarding process.

It’s true for any relationship—first impressions matter. According to a study found in Psychological Science, it takes exactly one-tenth of a second to make an impression of a stranger; which becomes so ingrained that a longer second impression does little to reverse the first. 

During the largest caregiver shortage in history, caregivers need to be able to trust that their schedulers are aware of their needs. The relationship between caregiver and scheduler can easily turn contentious without an intentionally crafted first impression. 

How to prevent this: Set the relationship up for success from the start by inviting schedulers to be a part of the interview process. Ask them to share insight on which potential hires fit the needs of current clients. 

The Executive Vice President of Care Advantage Inc., Olivia Jones, explains that building a scheduler’s relationship with a caregiver begins at their very first interaction: 

“It is important to involve your scheduler in the interview and/or the onboarding process. It plants the seed for what will hopefully be a longstanding relationship… You can’t just send a warm body out to serve a client in need… The scheduler and recruiter should work in sync around recruiting for the highest needs in matching the clients and caregivers.” 

Secure a harmonious scheduling experience for all parties involved by helping your caregivers get to know the person behind the schedule before their workday begins.

Mistake #2: Your scheduler doesn’t have the time or resources to build long-term relationships with caregivers.

When you break it down, a scheduler’s job is to send a stranger into another stranger’s house and ask them to do something intimate, an undeniably challenging task for anyone. 

After initiating a positive relationship between caregiver and scheduler in the onboarding process, a scheduler will quickly fall victim to burnout if they are trying to match clients with caregivers they don’t know much about. 

How to prevent this: Encourage schedulers to bond with their caregivers by prioritizing face-to-face interaction and setting up opportunities for schedulers to reward caregivers. 

The most underrated but crucial aspect of a scheduler’s job is to become aware of a caregiver’s background and capabilities. Schedulers will find that caregivers are more willing to accept shifts and try new things when they trust what they are being asked to do accurately reflects their abilities.  

As put by a surveyed scheduler, “A caregiver might talk to one scheduler and say no to a shift and then talk to another one they have a relationship with and say, ‘OK, yes, I’ll do it for you.’ It is all about relationship building.” 

Here are a few ways you can assist schedulers in becoming your caregivers’ go-to people and trusted sources of information:

  • Allocate gas gift cards for schedulers to reward a caregiver who drives out of their way last minute to help a client.

  • Encourage as much face-to-face communication as possible, such as a quick video call to attach a name to a face.

  • Encourage schedulers to keep track of the details and preferences caregivers share about themselves in a spreadsheet for easy recall while scheduling.

  • Brandy Morgan, Clinical Content Writer and Registered Nurse said, “Encourage your scheduler to always call and confirm that their caregivers are available. That five-minute courtesy call will save them the 30 minutes of a headache complaint call later.”

     

Make it easier for schedulers to cultivate a genuine relationship by allotting time within their workday where they can seize the opportunity to be “the good guy in a caregiver’s life.

Mistake #3: Your scheduler spends most of their time listening to complaints.

Schedulers are naturally resilient and comfortable being the first responder within your agency. In fact, only 6% of schedulers reported that being the face of the agency was a challenge.  

But schedulers admitted that one of their biggest challenges is handling complaints from clients and caregivers. It’s easy to understand why your schedulers are left feeling defeated listening to negative feedback after working tirelessly for days to try to keep everyone else satisfied. 

How to prevent this: Emotionally equip schedulers with soft-skills training to help manage conflict and take the pressure off the individual by reiterating to your employees that scheduling is a team effort.  

77% of employers think people skills are just as important as technical skills, but only 31% offer soft skill training to their employees.

soft skill training

Become one of the first agencies to offer soft skill training to your schedulers and see a proven 250% return on investment with increased productivity and retention. Your training catalogue should include professional growth topics like Stress and Time Management Skills, Customer Service in HealthcareCritical Thinking Skills, Managing Anger in the Workplace, and Dealing with Difficult/Combative People.

training

(Note: To take a closer look at the image above, right-click to “open in new tab.”)

Empower your schedulers to do their best work by holding a company meeting that reiterates the importance of making scheduling a team effort.  

The Vice President of A Long Term Companion, Brett Ringold, suggests training a few members of administration on scheduling to help during busy times: 

“Make it a team effort. Don’t just put the onus of scheduling right on the schedulers’ shoulders. We have cross administrators at our, at our agency that are all trained in scheduling so that if it’s just one of those days, where it seems like there’s a hundred moving parts, your scheduler is going to have support. And they’re not going to feel as though they’re alone in this, that they have a team that is working with them to achieve your agency’s goals.”  

As much as your schedulers should prepare to offer excellent customer service in the heat of conflict, every employee should do their part to proactively prevent complaints as a team.

Free Scheduler Success Training Series

The industry’s first training series created just for home care schedulers. Available for a limited time only. 

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Mistake #4: Your scheduler is overwhelmed trying to make everyone else happy.

Imagine completing a one-thousand-piece puzzle, stepping back with pride, and noticing that suddenly none of the pieces fit together anymore. 

An anonymous scheduler said, “Schedulers may have to move around different caregivers, but we manipulate the schedule, work on the puzzle until we have it all fit together and every client is happy.” 

Asking schedulers to work with an imbalance of clients to caregivers is like asking them to solve a puzzle without all the pieces. 

How to prevent this: Implement a 2:1 caregiver/client ratio to help schedulers more easily manage creating the schedule. 

Brett Ringold, Vice President of A Long Term Companion, suggested how you can monitor how well a scheduler manages their workload: 

“Maintain a proper ratio of caregivers to clients. We always try to maintain a ratio of about 2-2.3 caregivers for every active client. This is going to vary from agency to agency… We just found this to be a proper ratio, and by maintaining that ratio we are setting ourselves up for success. It’s like a chess analogy: If you’re outnumbered, you’re going to be in trouble. So, you always want to be well-balanced or be ahead of the game.” 

It’s impossible to make everyone happy at the same time, but you can balance a scheduler’s workload to help them stay one step ahead of the game.  

Mistake #5: Your scheduler is forced to rely on guesswork while matching caregivers to clients.

Based on 50,000 caregiver surveys, 6 out of 10 caregiver complaints are within schedulers’ control. These include: communication, office staff support, inconsistent hours/scheduling, client/caregiver compatibility, respect, and care plans. This equates to a lot of pressure on the shoulders of your schedulers as they balance the weight of your company’s internal success. 

How to prevent this: Train schedulers to pinpoint training gaps while matching caregivers to clients and use skill tags to assure each client is matched with their best fit. 

In a recent webinar, Brandy Morgan explains how to train your schedulers to retain more caregivers: 

“Recognize when you as a scheduler or your schedulers need training themselves. Do I know what dementia is? Do I know what ALS is? I’m not saying you have to take an anatomy and physiology course but understanding the basics will prepare you.” 

She shared a roadmap to help schedulers accurately match the right caregiver to each client:

Brett Ringold suggested schedulers use tags to differentiate the skill sets and preferences of each caregiver: 

“Our agency uses different tags related to skills like, ‘has dementia experience,’ ‘has hospice experience.’ Tags related to their different preferences like, ‘okay with cats,’ ‘okay with dogs,’ and tags with everything related to scheduling, like, ‘available on weekends,’ ‘willing to pick up late notice call-outs,’ ‘available during the day or available overnight.’ We use these tags to match criteria and really be able to run reports from a glance at top level for efficiency while pre-scheduling.” 

When home care schedulers receive training from the start, they gain a deeper understanding of the industry and the critical role they play in it. Preventing scheduler burnout is as simple as ensuring they know just how valuable they are from the start.

A Happy Scheduler is a Trained Scheduler

At the end of the day, home care would cease to exist without schedulers working behind the scenes to arrange that both your clients and caregivers are happy. Regardless of the metaphor you use, help your schedulers know how much your agency values them by investing in their training and see the positive effects ripple throughout your company. 

Need a place to start? Send them a link to our free scheduler success training, along with a note sharing something you appreciated about their work this week. You’ll sleep easy knowing you prevented the top mistakes that lead to scheduler burnout.

We’re Home Care Pulse, a leading provider of experience management & surveys, caregiver/CNA training, and online reputation management.

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One Comment

  1. Jeffrey Fry December 9, 2021 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Excellent article and great advice. We have a system that prevents this pretty well. Glad we know we are on the correct path.

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