Training Your Schedulers: The Secret Ingredient to Happy Clients and Caregivers

Home Care Office Staff Hiring Tips

As the first line of contact, home care schedulers play an important role in satisfaction – both, for clients and caregivers. It’s important that they have the training needed to be successful in their roles. 

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As the first line of contact, home care schedulers play an important role in satisfaction – both, for clients and caregivers. That’s why it’s critical to have a proper training plan in place to help current schedulers and new hires make the most of their roles.

As we’ve covered in a recent webinar, lack of communication is one of the biggest issues leading to caregiver turnover. In fact, one caregiver said that it’s crucial for their agency to “Improve their communication! If our schedule changes or something comes up we do not always know about it. Even if we ask it is like pulling teeth to get answers.”

While there’s a lot to consider here, we have some tips to help you get started. Here are some of the topics and best practices you should be implementing into your training.

Build a foundation for success

Home care schedulers need to be properly trained to handle anything that might be thrown their way, so it’s critical to start from the ground up.

Before even onboarding a new hire, it’s important to recognize that there are some skills you can’t teach. You should make sure schedulers have these before they’re even hired. Home care schedulers need to like putting together jigsaw puzzles continually. Some of these qualities might include empathy, self-motivation, conflict resolution, and effective problem-solving.

Even if a potential scheduler doesn’t have a background in home care, they can still make a great addition to the team with proper training. To help them be successful in their role you need to create a foundation that is standard for all new employees – whether they’re experienced or not.

Some of the topics you might want to cover include:

  • The role of a caregiver and what they can and can’t do

  • Tips and tricks for matching clients and caregivers

  • How to handle complaints and conflict

  • How to master data entry

  • Corporate compliance

  • Confidentiality requirments

  • HIPPA responsibilities

  • Time management

  • Handling a care plan

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While we’re not going to cover all of these topics, we do have a recently released Home Care Scheduler Success Series that will go over each of these topics in more detail.

Train based on state requirements and regulations

Requirements and regulations for caregivers are different in every state– but generally speaking, there are tasks that can and can’t be performed across the board. It’s important that schedulers are aware of these rules.

You may want to ask: What title(s) are caregivers given in your agency? What training is required for caregivers in your agency?

Typically, caregivers can’t do any of the following:

  • Wound care

  • Blood glucose monitoring

  • Ostomy care

  • G-Tube or NG Tube care or feeding

  • Catheter care

  • Medication administration

Emphasize the importance of successfully matching clients and caregivers

If done wrong, the relationship between clients and caregivers can cause a lot of problems for an agency. It may seem intuitive that you match clients and caregivers based on the clients needs and the caregivers skills, but there’s a lot more that goes into it, and it can cause a headache for schedulers– especially if they don’t have a background in the industry.

To help a scheduler to be successful in their role, you should be emphasizing the six important factors that they should be considering when making a match. These include:

Scheduler training best practices

Be repetitive: “Communication is key”

A Home Care Schedulers role primarily comes down to one thing: good communication.

Schedulers have to stay in constant contact with a variety of people including caregivers, clients, clients’ families, management, and other staff members.

There are many ways to handle incoming calls but sticking to a common response is the best way to maintain consistency. Here are the ground rules:

  • Think about the phone ringing as if someone is walking in and standing in your lobby.

  • Always try to answer the phone within the first two rings.

  • Give the caller your full focus and attention.

  • Smile! The expression on your face will come through in the tone of your voice.

According to the 2020 Home Care Benchmarking Study, most of the top complaints from clients and caregivers revolve around poor communication. One caregiver even described their office staff and management as being “super disorganized.” They said “I transferred offices and went from working 50-hour weeks to working 10-hour weeks because no one knew that I had transferred.”

Provide best practices for handling client and caregiver complaints

Poor customer service can cost your business a lot. It’s important that home care schedulers are properly trained to handle any inbound criticism with prose and consistency.

As you’ve likely already witnessed, complaints happen – no matter how good your agency is. With schedulers being on the receiving end of these complaints, the way they handle the conversation can make all the difference.

First, you’ll want to remind your schedulers to stay calm. It’s a lot of pressure talking to a frustrated client and caregiver, and sometimes it’s hard to not take the negative feedback personally. Provide your schedulers with the mindset that it’s okay to take a step back and separate their personal feelings and emotions from the situation.

As we’ve mentioned before, communication is important, but so is listening. When a client or caregiver complains, listen to their story, try to understand their point of view, and don’t get upset or challenge what they’re saying –any lack of concern on the end of the scheduler could lead to negative online or word-of-mouth reviews.

Complaints happen for a few reasons, and it’s important that the scheduler understands these. The origin of complaints come from:

  • Unmet expectations

  • Stress/frustration/anxiety/fear

  • Feeling ignored

  • Attention seeking

After the scheduler is done listening to the complaint, they should begin by apologizing. Apologizing is the first step of recognizing the issue and realizing that there’s a problem. It acknowledges that the concern is valid and is going to be given the utmost attention.

Next, schedulers should aim to solve the problem – whatever that may look like. Once the problem is solved, schedulers can move on to expressing gratitude for bringing the problem to their attention.

Not only do complaints help fix a single problem, but they might identify ongoing difficulties or areas of concern throughout your agency that you wouldn’t have otherwise identified. There’s a lot to be said for receiving feedback – good or bad.

In The Know’s Home Care Scheduler Training

If you’re looking for a more intensive training program focused on enhancing your schedulers skills, we’ve recently launched the “Home Care Scheduler Success Series.” This series is a collection of easy-to-digest snippets of information on all the little things a home care scheduler needs to know to find success in his or her role.

To learn more about the Scheduler Success Series, schedule a demo of our eLearning platform.

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