In an industry where the median turnover rate has exceeded 60% for over five years now, any agency with sub-30% turnover has a story to tell.
Norwood Seniors Network is a highly successful independent home care agency providing a suite of services aimed at providing everything seniors need to stay at home and thrive.
Norwood’s Executive Director Laura Shaw-deBruin, a seasoned professional with decades of experience in home care and other care settings, doesn’t beat around the bush.
“It’s not overstating to say that our ability to consistently keep turnover under 30% is a direct result of using Home Care Pulse surveys to seek and act on caregiver feedback,” she says.
“It’s not overstating to say that our ability to consistently keep turnover under 30% is a direct result of using Home Care Pulse to seek and act on caregiver feedback.”
Norwood Seniors Network has been using Home Care Pulse to conduct monthly client/caregiver experience surveys for years, and the feedback from those surveys has been instrumental in fine-tuning the business to make it a place where caregivers want to stay.
“Our caregivers will tell you: they stay because we listen to them,” says Laura. “We care what they’re saying and we’ll always implement changes if they think changes are needed.”
Examples of Changes Driven by Caregiver Feedback
Norwood Seniors Network has always been a good place to work, says Laura, but caregiver feedback has helped to pinpoint things that she didn’t realize were problems.
“A while ago, I noticed people were giving low scores mentioning raises,” she says. “Someone would say they hadn’t gotten a raise in four years.”
“The thing is, we already give a raise every single year. But I realized (and this is crazy to me) that some people just didn’t realize they were getting a raise. So, in terms of their job satisfaction, it’s as if they weren’t getting one at all.”
To counter the problem, Laura’s team implemented a plan to send letters out notifying caregivers when they received raises and expressing appreciation for their hard work. The negative scores related to raises disappeared.
This is just one example. Laura cites a variety of examples—everything from challenges with supervisors to not liking the company shirts—that didn’t come up until the caregivers had the chance to speak their minds to a third party.
“There’s not one magic pill to retention,” says Laura. “It’s hitting on a bunch of different things. It takes consistency and it takes understanding all the pieces to the puzzle.”
“You have to learn what all those pieces are by listening; then the key is follow-up. Collecting this feedback isn’t going to do you any good unless you act on it. [Home Care Pulse surveys] only help if you’re willing to not only take the feedback but to act on it.”
Where Most Agencies Go Wrong
A lot of agencies try to get client/caregiver feedback to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up, Laura says, but most of them struggle to gather accurate, unbiased feedback or fail to follow up on it consistently.
“You need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about your business,” explains Laura. “In any relationship, nothing is perfect and everyone is fallible. That includes your relationship with your employees.”
“Some agency owners might say, ‘I don’t need to know about the bad and the ugly in my business because it doesn’t have the bad or the ugly.’
“I say: How do you know you’re doing so well? How are you measuring that?
“If you’re trying to learn hard truths about your business, you need someone else to measure your success.”
“You need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about your business. In any relationship, everyone is fallible; that includes your relationship with your employees.”
The Importance of Third-Party Feedback
Why is a third party important, according to Laura?
“Companies need to do what they do well. I do home care well. I’m not a satisfaction survey company. If you want the best results, you go to the people who can do it the best. When it’s not unicorns and rainbows, people can have a hard time telling the truth to your face. That’s why I trust Home Care Pulse.
“A third-party gives you an unbiased, nonjudgmental, accurate score. The interviewers are trained in what they’re asking and can keep consistency. If you do it on your own, it’s costing you somebody’s time and salary.
“A chunk of our revenue is tied to having a third-party doing the surveys, because families and caregivers appreciate that we are paying for a third-party company to measure their satisfaction. That’s a huge deal to them.”