Ep:56: The 5 Most Common Scheduling Mistakes—And How to Solve Them
Brett Ringold, Vice President A Long Term Companion highlights his agency's process to scheduling—deep dive into pre-scheduling, scheduling, and re-scheduling, then we field top of mind scheduling questions from a live audience.
Miriam Allred (00:08):
Welcome to Vision | The Care Leaders’ Podcast. I’m Miriam Allred from Home Care Pulse. Brett, if you’re ready to go, let’s go ahead and get started.
Brett Ringold (00:19):
Of course, I’m excited!
Miriam Allred (00:20):
Take a minute just to introduce yourself where you’re located your agency, you know, just a couple of things about yourself.
Brett Ringold (00:25):
Sure. So I am the Vice-President of A Long-Term Companion. Our agency is located right outside of Philadelphia in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, very highly competitive fragmented market. We have about a thousand under other providers within an hour of our office. I have been in home care as an operator for a little over a decade. And my first experience with home care was actually as a patient when I was a young adult for a skilled home care agency and non-medical home care agency. So I am very excited for the opportunity to be here today and to share different tips and techniques when it comes to scheduling.
Miriam Allred (01:01):
I know you’ve learned a lot about scheduling in the last 10 years and it’s a passion of yours. So that being said, I want to pose this first question. I know you have this analogy of checkers versus chess when it comes to scheduling. So let’s start there. What does that analogy and how is it applicable?
Brett Ringold (01:20):
I love that we’re starting with this. So this is a saying that we’ve had for many years at a long-term companion is that scheduling is chess. It’s not checkers. What I mean by that is just like in chest vision is so important when it comes to scheduling, you have to be able to see all the pieces on the board and you have to be able to recognize not just one or two moves ahead, but you have to be able to look five, 10, or even more now, as schedulers as agency operators, we’re not playing a game, we’re working with our clients, we’re serving our clients every day. We’re working with our amazing caregivers. It’s a really personal business. So while vision is important, we always have to have great communication skills and empathy as well. But that’s kind of the crux of the, the saying that we have,
Miriam Allred (02:05):
That’s a great perspective. I’d have everyone raise your hand and tell us the last time you played checkers because it’s probably been awhile or chess for a while for all of us. But yeah, I love that analogy. I want to dive into your agency has kind of this unique structure, kind of a three part structure to your scheduling. It’s kind of a pre scheduling then the actual scheduling and then a post scheduling, which is really unique. And a lot of agencies may not implement such a thing. So, so let’s talk about pre scheduling to start. What are the steps in your pre scheduling program and what are some of the short term problems that, that pre scheduling piece will help solve?
Brett Ringold (02:46):
It’s a great question. It’s a really important question because scheduling is very complex. As we know, there are a lot of moving parts. So if you’re able to really boil it down into those three parts, pre scheduling, scheduling, and rescheduling, and you’re able to Excel in each of those three functions, you’re going to put yourself in a situation to be successful. I happen to work in the restaurant industry throughout high school and college, and I worked alongside many great chefs. And when you’re a diner, you come in, you sit down for a meal on a busy Friday night and you have a wonderful dinner. You don’t often think about all of the prep work that has to be done during the course of the week to Excel. So that’s an analogy that I like to use that pre scheduling is kind of like the prep work that any great chef must do in order to be successful.
Brett Ringold (03:34):
And there are really a lot of different phases when it comes to pre scheduling. First is maintaining a proper ratio of caregivers to clients at our agency. We always try to maintain a ratio of about two to 2.3, three caregivers for every active client. This is going to vary from agency to agency for one agency. That ratio might be one caregiver for every active client. For some agencies, it’s going to be three or more at a long-term companion. We just found that two to 2.3, three caregivers for every active client is that proper ratio. And by maintaining that ratio or setting ourself up for success, it’s kind of like just like that chess analogy. If you’re outnumbered, you’re going to be in trouble. So you always really want to be well balanced or be ahead of the game. The second part of preschooling is maintaining a robust system to track the availability of your caregivers in real time.
Brett Ringold (04:27):
And this is what we refer to as our big board. Our caregivers availability is constantly changing. Somebody might be available for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, one week, and then two days later, they accept the shift with another agency or they have a family event that’s taking place and they’re no longer available. So as part of our prep work as schedulers in the pre scheduling phase, we have to communicate with our caregivers regularly and always update their availability in our home care software, which we call the big board. You know, we have to always remember that if you have a client that their schedule is Monday to Friday nine to five pay, well, there might be schedule changes for that client. And if you’re lucky you’re going to have new clients that you also have to staff for. So you always have to really not only be prepared for the shifts that are currently on your schedule, but for those shifts that are probably likely to happen.
Brett Ringold (05:18):
And that’s why maintaining your caregiver’s availability in real time is so important. We also believe in data using data as part of our pre scheduling process and by data. I mean, maintaining a very robust caregiver and client profile. You want to have as much information in your caregiver and client profiles in your home care software and make it easily accessible. Tags are really nifty way of doing this. Our agency uses different tags related to skills like has dementia experience has hospice experience related the preferences, like okay, with cats, okay. With dogs and related to scheduling, like available on weekends, willing to pick up late notice call-outs available during the day available overnight. So we use these tags and the match criteria to really be able to run reports to glance at a top level and to use efficiency when it comes to the pre scheduling.
Brett Ringold (06:18):
Another core component of pre scheduling is having daily meetings with your HR and your sales team. Your sales team knows what prospects are in the pipeline. And as a scheduler, I’m sure that we’ve all had those times where you get a call. You have a client that’s starting tomorrow or starting the next day. And you’re scrambling to put together a schedule. You should really never be caught off guard. So when you’re in the pre scheduling phase, you have to make sure that you’re communicating with your sales team have having a finger on the pulse of what are the clients in the pipeline. What are the schedules that they’re looking for? And pre-planning these invisible shifts at the same time, you also want to communicate with our human resources team, you as a scheduler, have a pretty good sense of all right. We have a need for caregivers who have, who have weekend availability who have overnight availability who have lived in availability.
Brett Ringold (07:11):
So you have to communicate these scheduling needs with other members of your admin team, with your HR team, so that you could always recruit these amazing caregivers and always maintain that proper ratio of caregivers, the clients. Another really important phase of another component of the pre scheduling phase are training shifts. It’s not always possible, but when you’re able to do so, I highly encourage you to schedule training shifts. Whenever you have a caregiver who is working with a client for the first time, you know, obviously your caregiver is going to speak with a member of the admin team and wellness team. The over your client’s care plan, they’re going to read your client’s care plan. They’re going to have a very high level sense of their client’s needs just by doing this exercise. But whenever you’re able to schedule your caregiver, who is new with a client to work alongside a caregiver who knows that client’s needs, you’re setting up your new caregiver for success.
Brett Ringold (08:07):
They’re able to really find out, okay, this is the schedule. These are their likes, their dislikes, their preferences, really on a granular level from a client and a caregiver who has experience with that, with that client. The last component that we look at for pre scheduling is strategic paid on call. I’m not advocating that you always have caregivers who were paid on call for every single available shift, but you want to identify those problem shifts, those shifts, where you might have the highest likelihood of having a schedule change. So we just had a holiday or holidays, generally difficult for your agency. Our weekends are difficult during the day or overnights on Friday night. Do you tend to have a lot of call-outs? And if so, you might want to consider having paid on call caregivers who are not actively scheduled, but are available and on call for those times.
Brett Ringold (09:01):
What this is going to do is it’s going to increase your payroll expense in the short term. But what it’s going to ultimately do is save you and your agency a lot of time. And it really might be the difference between your being able to fill a late notice call out or Miriam, you would ask, you know, why is it important? What are some of the shortfalls? It’s important because you’re just putting forth the effort. You’re laying the foundation to be successful as an agency and as a scheduler, you know, we’re professional schedulers. Our job is to make sure that our clients are served by amazing caregivers that could meet their needs that they enjoy working with. And all professionals have to do their homework. They have to do their prep work. You look at professional athletes, they have training camp, they have practice, they have pregame warmups. And this is so that they’re able to succeed on game day. You look at professional chefs, they order their ingredients, they prepare their meals and plus they plan their menus and their specials. That’s that’s so that they’re able to have successful dinner service. So as professional schedulers, we want to follow the tips that I just kind of laid out. It takes some time, it takes a lot of effort, but you’re just setting yourself up for success.
Miriam Allred (10:12):
I’m glad you emphasized that at the end, because I think some providers hearing this may think scheduling in and of itself is a huge beast. So the thought of implementing a whole pre scheduling process just seems mind blowing. Like they just wouldn’t have time to do that, but like you’re saying, it’s, it’s setting the actual scheduling up for success so that you’re not understaffed or losing clients due to, you know, mix up in schedules because that happens frequently. So, so I love those steps that you outlined, and I love the, the follow-up solutions or the short term solutions that pre scheduling will help solve. So, so to kind of shift gears, I want to talk about, I know, I know there’s a lot to your scheduling process, but I wanted to kind of highlight five most common scheduling mistakes that you’ve seen and how you’ve solved them with specific processes. So one of the ones that I know you really emphasize is offering consistent and permanent schedules. I know you just talked about how schedules are always changing. You have to update that big board as things go, but what’s your best practice around offering consistent and ongoing permanent schedules.
Brett Ringold (11:20):
That’s a great question, Miriam. And it’s really important because we captured our caregivers availability on the big board. That’s step one, step two is offering that consistent schedule for your caregivers. As I said, home care is very, very competitive. It’s very fragmented. So your market might have 10 agencies, a hundred agencies, a thousand agencies. If you have a caregiver who is working with you and they are really looking for overnight hours, and you’re only offering pay shifts or overnights here and there, it’s just a matter of time before they’re going to leave your agency for an agency across town that accepts that offers them a shift that’s better suited for their needs. So not only do you want to offer a consistent schedule, but you really have to do so quickly and you have to do so thoughtfully because our caregivers are wonderful. And they’re looking to work with clients that they love working with at times that really work with that.
Miriam Allred (12:13):[Inaudible] The next best practice that I want to highlight goes right along with that is being proactive rather than reactive. What is maybe an example of a reactive scheduler that you’ve seen and how have you fixed that with being, you know, more proactive? Wow.
Brett Ringold (12:26):
I guess an example of a reactive scheduler is kind of waiting for something to happen, right? We have that client that is scheduled Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. We identify a caregiver. That’s going to be wonderful for that client’s needs. They find out about the client’s care plan. They accept the shift. And then that’s the end of that. And you’re kind of just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think an example of being proactive is having an, a way for your caregivers to accept the shift and then confirm that they’re going to work and you want this to be done close to the time of the scheduled start time. So this could be the day before your shift is scheduled. This can be a few hours before the shift that’s scheduled. When ideally you want your caregivers to affirmatively confirm that they will be there as their, they accept the shift. This used to be very tedious. It used to take a lot of time and a lot of manual effort initially, but nowadays, most home care software has different processes in place where they send automatic shift reminders, which require accepting the shift. So that’s just one, one layer of protection that you could add to be proactive.
Miriam Allred (13:32):
Yeah. I love that. Let’s talk about rewarding, your schedulers. They have a tough job. We can all admit it, but what are some ways that you’re incentivizing them or rewarding them for the hard work that they’re putting in?
Brett Ringold (13:47):
Well, I think one way that we reward them is just by simply thanking them, you know, appreciating people like recognition and like being told that they’re doing a good job and you have to really care about your team. It’s a family affair, you know, home care can be very, very stressful at times. You’re in the trenches together, so to speak, but if you really are just expecting something to happen and then it happens and you never acknowledge it, that could lower morale. I think another way to really reward your schedulers and to thank them. There’s other things you can have bonuses, you can have time off. But I think by making it a team effort, that’s one of the things that we like to do at a long-term companion is not just put the onus of scheduling right on the scheduler 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, that 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 that they’re alone in this, that they have a team that is working with them to achieve your agency’s. So I think that these are all probably pretty common sense things to do. I’m not sure if every agency does it, but I, I feel as though every agency shouldn’t be doing it,
Miriam Allred (15:00):[Inaudible] from what I’ve heard and seen and know about your agency. I think you’re living that to a T you know, I think your employees feel that from the day that they start to, you know, a year or two year, three years in that you guys radiate kind of that family oriented feel. You know, I think your mom might actually be on the line, the owner of your agency. And both of you have just really radiated that through your agency, which is so cool and so impactful for the employees that are there. One other kind of hot topic around scheduling is, is paying overtime. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not you should pay overtime or you shouldn’t pay overtime. What have you seen? And what’s kind of your philosophy around overtime.
Brett Ringold (15:42):
So I understand why it’s a hot topic. You know, as agency operators, you have to be aware of your parallel expenses and all of the other expenses that come with operating a home care agency, but you don’t want to be short-sighted. So our agency, we do authorize probably a lot more overtime than many of our competitors do. And we do so strategically, we look at this as a short-term solution and a longterm solution. Not only does authorizing overtime help you from a scheduling perspective, but it’s really going to help in retaining the amazing caregivers that are part of your family. So in the short term, we all know that the first few weeks working with a new client are vital. And the last thing that new client wants is a revolving door of caregivers and, and out of their home, that’s probably the chief complaint that we get from clients that are new Tory agency, that we’re with an agency in the past is that they just had way too many different caregivers in and out of their home.
Brett Ringold (16:39):
So if your agency is going to be a little bit more strategic authorized for the first two or three weeks, more overtime than you generally would, while you’re able to put together that perfect care team for your new client, that way you’re minimizing the number of caregivers in and out of that, client’s home. Everybody’s happy in the longterm, you know, we want to recognize and appreciate, and thank our caregivers that work with our clients every day that do such an amazing job. And most of our caregivers like to work full time. Many of our caregivers, they love over time. So when we’re able to authorize overtime and offer this to them, our caregivers are happy. They’re going to want to stay part of the long-term companion family longer. And again, it’s going to increase your payroll expense. But what it’s going to do is also increase your team morale, and it’s probably going to make less time financial resources and efforts that your agency has to spend on recruiting, which as we know, and operators, especially as of late, that’s a lot of our operations right now. So if you’re able to spend a little bit more on overtime, you’ll probably have less, less of a headache on the other end.
Miriam Allred (17:49):
Yeah. One follow-up
Brett Ringold (17:49):
Question I want to ask in conjunction with overtime pay. You mentioned having a roster of additional caregivers. Tell me a little bit more about, you know, how many you have at any given time, kind of what, what you’re doing there and why just dive a little bit deeper. So that roster, we always want to maintain it’s based on our client’s census. So that two to 2.3, three caregivers, the client ratio is something that we always, we found as though that’s our sweet spot. That’s what we always want to maintain because some clients are one-to-one clients where they only have one caregiver, some have teams of caregivers. We have many clients that we’re serving around the clock, two 12 hour shifts. So we might have a team of four or five caregivers working with that individual client. But you always want to make sure that you have caregivers who are not actively working to their full capacity.
Brett Ringold (18:39):
You know, if a caregiver wants to, if they’re new to your agency and they want to work 40 hours a week, and you’re able to schedule them for 30 hours per week, have them on your roster for that other day, it could be paid. It could be unpaid, but make sure that you always have caregivers who are essentially on standby, who are able to cover those new invisible shifts, those clients that are new to your agency or their schedule changes. So right now at any given time, we generally have around 150 to 180 professional caregivers who work with us. That number does vary and not every week right now, we actually have, I think, seven amazing caregivers that are all on vacation. So you can’t just always have that one-to-one ratio, but you want to just be prudent and always make sure that you’re able to serve your clients.
Miriam Allred (19:24):
Yeah. I appreciate the additional context there. This last best practice that I want to hit on before we talk about kind of rescheduling or post scheduling is scheduling is really a team sport. That’s your philosophy. You’ve mentioned kind of bits and pieces of that, but what else do you want to say on the fact that scheduling really is a team effort?
Brett Ringold (19:41):
Absolutely. So I think we touched upon from an admin perspective, you want to have different members of your admin team trained to schedule so that we can support one another as an agency. But when you’re looking at it as a team sport, from a caregiver perspective, that’s also a really important approach. When we have a client that we’re staffing for, it could be that client, that their hours are nine to five, Monday to Friday, we can have one amazing caregiver work with that client. And that would be a perfect schedule for this caregiver. But you want to establish a team. You want to have a secondary and a tertiary caregiver that meet this client that are introduced to them and know their care needs so that if your primary caregiver needs to take off, you’re going to have a caregiver that knows your client’s needs.
Brett Ringold (20:24):
And the clarity that are that your client knows. So there’s always that consistency. Along those lines in the team sport thought process is that you might have an all-star team of caregivers. You might have just some caregivers who work with your agency, who are wonderful, who could really work with most of your clients. And you might want to have them train with multiple clients that aren’t their primary clients. These are usually going to be more challenging clients from a care plan perspective, clients who live in difficult staffing areas. But this way, if you know that there are going to be clients that generally present scheduling difficulties, you don’t want to have a new person with them every time. So by looking at your all-star caregivers, having them train with, with multiple clients, it’s really all about that continuity of care.
Miriam Allred (21:12):
Great response. So before we kind of get into the live discussion here, let’s just touch briefly on rescheduling. So we’ve talked about the pre scheduling. We’ve talked about the actual scheduling. You also have this process set to reschedule, you know, fine tune things. So briefly highlight what’s happening in that rescheduling process. Sure.
Brett Ringold (21:32):
So rescheduling is the last phase of scheduling and just like preschooling, you have to break down rescheduling into multiple different components. I know home care pulse is very big on data founded on data. Every agency should be data-driven. So some of the metrics that we’re tracking are call-outs and lateness, and by using data tracking trends, you’re better able to predict what’s likely to happen in the future. So once you’re really using data as part of your rescheduling operations, you’re going to know, all right, I am scheduling a hundred shifts a week as an agency. We’re probably going to have this many call-outs in the course of the day and this many call-outs in the course of the week. And once you’re really able to fine tune that data and track the lateness track, the call-outs, you’re going to know X of these call-outs are going to happen in the morning.
Brett Ringold (22:26):
Why are going to happen in the afternoon and Z are going to happen in the evening. So you could really prepare, make sure that your big board is robust enough to support these schedule changes and not be caught off guard. It’s all about being proactive and not reactive. Probably the most important part of rescheduling is having a process in place that works for your agency so that you’re not responding to each individual schedule change on an ad hoc PRN basis. You know, at a long-term companion, we have a process in place it’s been in place for years, and we’re not being reactionary. When we have a schedule change, we’re sending out a blast through ClearCare and OpenShift invitation to pre-screened pre matched caregivers that need that client’s needs. Then we’re starting a text message and a phone call system all the while we’re doing a dynamic bonus system that increases as the shifts start, team grows nearer, and we’re doing this every single time.
Brett Ringold (23:21):
And we’re very fortunate in the sense that most months we’re able to staff a hundred percent of the shifts of the thousands of shifts that we have scheduled. And it’s not by luck. If we were responding to everything in different ways, we’d never be able to attain this, but by having the system that is tried and true it really helps so that you’re not caught off guard when something happens. Part of rescheduling is also kind of being a little brave and willing to make changes. So let’s say that we have a client that lives in a difficult coverage area, or they have difficult care needs. And it’s a shift that I’ve been trying to staff all week and it’s tomorrow or it’s today, and it’s just looming large it’s purple and ClearCare. And I can’t, I want to fill this purple shift and have it scheduled.
Brett Ringold (24:10):
What are we going to do? I’m probably going to look at some caregivers that are already scheduled, identify a caregiver. That would be a really good fit for this client that might be in a difficult staffing area, or that might have a limited pool of caregivers that could meet their needs and make a change. So I’m going to ask this caregiver, who’s scheduled to work with the client who has an open shift. Then I’m going to find a replacement caregiver to cover this client that is now newly open because they have an easier care plan or they live in an area that’s easier to cover. And that way everybody’s covered, everybody’s covered with a caregiver that could really meet their needs and provide the level of care that we need to be provided. It’s not ideal. You know, you don’t want to create moving parts and you don’t want to make changes, but sometimes it just is the best move possible.
Brett Ringold (24:57):
Part of rescheduling, and we mentioned it at the top of the program is communication, right? Schedule changes are inevitable as much as I would love for every schedule to be static and never change. That’s not reality. So when you have a schedule change, communicate with their clients, call your client, say there has been a schedule change. I’m working on it for you. As soon as you know, who’s coming in, call your client again, tell them who will be there, tell them why you feel as though this caregiver will be wonderful for them. And you’re doing this because you don’t want your client to be upset with you. It could be their first sits with your agency or their 10th year with their agency. And they’re looking forward to their favorite caregiver to be there. But without communication what’s going to happen is you’re going to have a new caregiver who arrives for work that day and your client’s going to be upset, and it’s not going to be a good day for anybody.
Brett Ringold (25:48):
So just by having a little consideration and communicating with your client, you’re setting yourself up for success. And the last part of rescheduling is being accessible. 24 7. You have to have a process in place. We have a one dial phone number that a caregiver calls they need help with the client. They’re calling out for a shift. They’re going to reach a member of the admin team. They’re not going to reach a member of the after hours answering service that may or may not patch the message to an administrator. They’re going to reach an administrator that knows their needs, know their clients, and is able to help with rescheduling. And this is a solution that we hear from our newest caregivers that many other agencies don’t have. And I think it’s just so simple, you know, there’s never really an excuse for your caregiver needing support and not being able to get it
Miriam Allred (26:35):
Really, really good insights. I’m just thinking we recently published the top 10 complaints from caregivers in 2021 and scheduling remains in the top five. And I think these principles that you’re outlining will solve those issues. And ultimately you’ll be able to retain clients and care caregivers longer. If you can really kind of crack the code on scheduling. And I just love all the points that you’ve outlined. You know, it sounds maybe easier said than done, but you know, you’ve worked at this for years and seeing the rewards. And so I hope providers tuning in can take away just a couple of these processes that you’ve outlined and start implementing them really to start seeing the results. So, so really good insights. I appreciate it. So let’s kind of segue into the live discussion portion of the call. We’ve got a couple of questions that have come through the chat. I’ll actually go ahead and invite Connor to unmute himself. One of the questions is around billable hours. Connor, why don’t you chime in and ask Brett,
Connor Kunz (27:37):
And you had mentioned that you have a very tight like staff to client ratio. I like to hear how you arrived with that. But also if you have a benchmark that’s kind of similar, that is like ours to client ratio that you aim for too.
Brett Ringold (27:51):
So that’s a really excellent question, Connor. I think it’s just over the years, this is kind of the ratio that we arrived at. Initially I believe the ratio was a little bit higher. We might’ve had closer to three to one, but then what was happening is we weren’t really able to offer our caregivers enough available shifts to have them stay with our agency in the longterm. And our goal is always for, you know, to have a long-term relationship with our caregivers. That’s something that we really pride ourselves on. So this metric, it wasn’t something that we kind of planned. It’s just something that we arrived at as far as billable hours, billable hours are really important because if you have a lot of clients who have short shifts, if their hours are two hours, four hours, six hours a day, that ratio is likely going to be closer to one-to-one. We have, most of our clients are receiving 12, 14, 24 hours a day, which is why our ratio is where it is, but we like to pay our caregiver, the client ratio more so to declines than billable hours.
Miriam Allred (28:58):
Good insights. We’ve got a few other providers on the line. I’ll invite them to drop some questions here in the chat. Or if any of you want to unmute yourself and ask Brett a question, now’s the time we’ve got a few pre submitted questions from people that weren’t able to join us live. One of the ones that came in was around you, how do you keep organize your care plans and where caregivers are at in their training in order to match? I know you talked about that a little bit in pre scheduling, but w how do you really just keep all of these different components of your caregiver’s preferences and your client’s preferences organized so that when scheduling does come around, you know, everyone’s happy.
Brett Ringold (29:37):
That’s a great question. The answer is we’ve been utilizing ClearCare as our home care software since 2012, ClearCare has so much capability to be able to maintain these. You could put caregiver preferences, client preferences, tags, match criteria. It’s a very robust system we used to do it manually before 2012, we had different systems in place. And thankfully for the last nine years now, we’ve really leaned on ClearCare and it’s just a very ease of use program. And it’s something that all of our administrators are trained on. All our caregivers are trained on, and it just really is a great ecosphere to keep everything together,
Miriam Allred (30:19):
Scheduling manually. I can’t even imagine the day when Pete, when agencies were doing that, it would be absolute chaos, but, but thank goodness for these scheduling softwares that really simplify the process and keep us organized. Another question that was submitted is similar to the roster question, but some agencies are turning down new clients due to lack of caregivers. Are you seeing that or feeling that, and how does that impact your scheduling?
Brett Ringold (30:48):
That’s another very important looming, large question for every operator. We are very fortunate in the sense that we have many applicants for our agency. It’s just a matter of vetting those caregivers to finding those caregivers who are a great fit for our agency. We still have turned down clients, but generally these are the same clients that we would turn down in the past, even though times are very different this last year and a half. And every agency is going through their own challenges. Most of the reasons that we’re turning down clients is because they live outside of our service area, or they’re ha they’re in need of a schedule. That just really, isn’t one of our core competencies. We’re an agency that generally provides 8, 12, 24 hours a day, a lot of live in care to our clients. So if we have a referral for a new client, that’s looking for maybe split shifts are four hours a day. We usually tend to refer them to agencies that better suit their needs. And it’s just knowing what your core competencies are. You don’t want to overextend yourself because the last thing you want to do is accept the client and then not be able to serve them properly. So it’s a challenge. But right now, fortunately, we are able to, to have some wonderful caregivers applying to us. We just have to identify those caregivers.
Miriam Allred (32:06):
Yeah. Good response. We’ve got a question that’s come through from Jessica. I’ll go ahead and ask it, Jessica, unless you want to chime in here for us. But she’s asking how do you maintain consistent schedules for staff with high turnover rates?
Brett Ringold (32:20):
So we are not you know, scotch free when it comes to the turnover. We’re very fortunate. Not half of our team has been with us for three years or more. A quarter of our team. Our professional caregivers have worked with us for at least five years. We have a really strong retention. It starts from day one. It starts from before they are, caregivers are oriented with our agency. Many of our caregivers are referred by current caregivers or caregivers who have worked with us in the past. So we’re very fortunate that we don’t have the turnover rate that many agencies do, but we still have turnover do not get me wrong. I think by employing some of the strategies that we discussed such as offering over time, offering consistent schedules to your caregivers and doing so quickly, if you have a caregiver who is new to your agency, and you’re not offering them 20, 30, 40 hours a week, if that’s what they’re looking for within the first 10, 14 days, they’re not going to be able to stay with your agency. They’re going to have to look for another opportunity with one of your competitors. So by offering over time, offering consistent schedules and doing so consistently, I think you’re able to not eliminate the turnover rate, but you’re able to help fight against it.
Miriam Allred (33:31):
Hearing that the majority of your caregivers have been with you for over three years is means that you’re doing something right. That’s that’s all I can say. We’ve got another question coming from grace. Grace, you want to go ahead and unmute yourself and ask a question?
Grace Bailey (33:48):
Yeah, for sure. Hey Brett. So I was just curious with this roster of extra caregivers, what are you doing on the recruitment side to get all these applicants?
Brett Ringold (33:58):
That’s a great question, Grace. Generally in the past, prior to about 18 months ago, when we were in need of, let’s say caregivers with weekend availability, living availability, overnight availability, we would turn to our caregivers currently on a roster and say, do you have any family members, friends, coworkers who are professional caregivers, but we’re interested in picking up more hours. And usually those caregivers would start with us part-time and then ultimately they ended up working with us full-time, which is wonderful. This last year and a half has been a little bit different for every provider. So we’ve been leaning on a little bit more indeed other traditional hiring sites, but that’s why I, I, when I say we’re not really having trouble attracting caregivers, we’re very fortunate in that sense, I guess in our Philadelphia market, there are a lot of caregivers that are looking for opportunities. It’s just a matter of identifying those wonderful caregivers. So you might have to vet 50, 80, a hundred caregivers to find ultimately one caregiver. Who’s a great match for your team, but we we’ve recently hired a human resources supervisor and another member of our human resources team, which we always had always had part-time HR roles in our organization. But the last year, plus we now have two full-time human resources roles just to address the recruitment, the onboarding, and to help with that retention piece.
Miriam Allred (35:24):
Incredible to hear that you’re attracting caregivers naturally is, is a huge success because I know a lot of agencies are struggling just to get those applicants, let alone being able to vet, you know, 50 caregivers. I think that’s a lot of agencies dream right now, but it’s great to hear that you’re attracting people organically. We’ll give people just another minute. I’ll ask one more kind of preselected question, and then we’ll kind of wrap up here. What are some of the traits you look for in a good scheduler? And are you typically promoting schedulers from within your organization?
Brett Ringold (35:56):
That’s a wonderful question. There are, it’s hard. You know, scheduling is very stressful at times because regardless of your agency size, if you’re scheduling for one client or a hundred clients, there are so many moving parts. You have this schedule that’s perfect. And all of a sudden it’s out the window. So a scheduler has to be resilient. I think that they have to have patience and be, you know, we say that chess analogy because you have to be very strategic. You have to have the vision, you have to be resilient and not get bummed out every time there’s a scheduling change, you have to accept and really expect that there’s going to be a scheduling change. We look for peak for individuals with high levels of empathy, communication skills, because part of scheduling is you’re, you’re constantly speaking with your caregivers. You’re constantly speaking with your clients and you have to be able to connect on a personal level.
Brett Ringold (36:50):
Sometimes you might be calling a client with that news. Hey, your favorite caregiver is not coming in today. You can’t be a cold person. You have to be very warm and be able to really kind of make that client’s day still special and make that caregivers. They still special. So I think there’s a lot of soft skills, a lot of intangibles, just like having the proper heart. We are recruiting from within constantly recently, we just promoted one of our amazing certified nursing assistants. She’s now our wellness supervisor. She’s a registered nurse now. And so we believe very strongly in recruiting from within. But at the same time, we’re also always looking outside of our organization to identify individuals who might be a great fit for the team.
Miriam Allred (37:35):
Great points. We’ve got one more question. That’s come in here around pay. You’ve mentioned a number of times that you’re in a highly competitive market there in the Philadelphia area. Where, where do you aim to be at, in regard to pay in comparison to your local market?
Brett Ringold (37:51):
So that’s a very important question. And it’s a question that we’re always assessing and reassessing. We’re looking at your benchmarking studies at home care polls. We’re looking at different websites online to make sure that we’re always competitive. And we like to look at pay holistically. We’re offering health insurance benefits to our full-time employees. Our caregivers have the same health insurance that I have that my family has dental vision PTO. And we’re always looking to pay competitively, at least in the top 60 to 75th percentile. We’re not in the 99 percentile. One day we might be, and we’re always straight up striving to be right around that 75th percentile, but we want to look at it holistically offering over time. You know, there are many agencies because we’re constantly looking at what’s on indeed and what’s on what our competitors are doing. And we see all the time we’re paying X dollars per hour. Well, that’s wonderful, but they’re only offering 29 hours per week because they don’t want to offer health insurance. They don’t want to over over time. So we might not be able to match the dollar for dollar originally, but we offer a lot of overtime plus all of these other benefits.
Miriam Allred (38:59):
Yeah. It’s key to listen to your staff and listen to what they need because sometimes pay is a top priority, but other times benefits or, you know, pay time off is, is equal to the importance of pay. So just listening to your staff, Brett, we’ve asked you a lot of questions and you’ve hung in here with us and I really appreciate it. That’s all we’ve got time for today, but thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us here live today. We’ll look forward to more sessions every week and learning from other providers in the space. But Brett, thanks for taking the time and thanks for joining us,
Brett Ringold (39:30):
Miriam. It’s my pleasure. It’s always so much fun speaking with you and thank you for everything.
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