How to Develop a Care Team That Wants to Grow With Your Home Care Agency
Jessica Nobles, Founder of Nobility Care Solutions and Executive Administrator of Home Care Ops is here to share how to validate and give a voice to your caregivers, the importance of an EVP and what the hierarchy structure looks like for her care team.
Hey, this is Miriam Allred and you’re listening to Vision | The Home Care Leaders Podcast by Home Care Pulse. My guest today is Jessica Nobles, the Founder of Nobility Care Solutions and the Executive Administrator of Home Care Ops. She’s been in the industry for over 20 years as a caregiver who worked her way up to Operations Coordinator, Franchise Developer, to an independent Agency Owner. How are you doing Jessica?
Well, I have been in home care for over a decade and home care leadership and I own and operate and Nobility Care Solutions along with my husband, Clinton Nobles, and we founded Home Care Ops and we really empower other home care owners to create efficient systems within their companies so that they can have that freedom that they desire. And I’ve been a caregiver. I was, I started out as a family caregiver for my grandmother at a very, very early age. So I kind of know every aspect of, of how it feels, the accomplishments and the challenges. And I really do. I love being able to help, not only the people that we serve within our home care company, but the hundreds of owners who we’re all striving to offer that quality care.
Fantastic. So not only are you an owner, but you were a caregiver yourself, which will be great to hear in this conversation today, like, you know, caregiver recruitment and retention is still probably the number one challenge for the majority of providers today, as we move into 2021. And as we continue to fight this pandemic, so really excited to have you on here today to impart some of your knowledge about retaining high quality caregivers. So if you’re ready, let’s jump right in. Absolutely. Let’s go. So let’s talk about connection and engagement for starters. How are you guys creating opportunities to connect with your team in a personalized way right now?
Well, I love connecting and engaging and bringing our care providers into every aspect of the care that’s being given. And I know with, you know, before COVID happened, we would have the team meetings and we would have all of these opportunities where we would get together and really build that momentum and excitement. Whenever COVID happened, you know, we kind of had to say, how can we still make them feel like they’re a part of every day? Like we’re thinking of them every day. And we do that consistent communication. We make sure that we stay in touch with them on a consistent basis and also bring them into the daily aspects of the quality that’s being given. And just a simple example that we did that really had a huge impact is back in may, whenever we were really encouraging engagement and bringing some positivity, you know, to everything that was going on, we reached out to all of our care providers and said, we want to start a monthly activity focus with all of our clients and our care providers.
So send in your ideas. What is something that you think would just be a highlight for everyone to engage in together? And then we would send out little printouts of where we would feature a caregiver story and their experience. And we provide them with the things that they needed to do their activities. And this year, in spite of all this going on, I felt like in a lot of ways, we even learned more about our caregivers and because we were putting an effort into learning, not just how good they are at care, but what are things they’re passionate about? And they would like to share with not only our clients, but our entire team,
Getting that input directly from the caregiver is so important. And then that’s great to hear that 2020 maybe enhance that experience for your caregivers at your agency. I think that’s so neat. And in some way, you know, that has been a benefit of 2020 is refining that communication and getting that input, you know, you new or unique way and, you know, implementing that feedback loop and then implementing whatever that feedback was. One other piece of this I want to talk about is validation. We know that sometimes caregivers don’t feel heard or don’t feel validated when they do give that input or that feedback. So what are some ways that you’re ensuring that your care providers feel that validation?
We, we let them know. We have something called constructive encouragement within our team and we let them, we let them know our doors are open. We want to hear their advice. We want to hear their opinions. We want their feedback and we will consider everything that they let us know. And even sometimes it may be a complaint. And that’s where that instructive new encouragement comes in. You know, on our side where we take it, we look at it, we evaluate it and we see how we can make the overall satisfaction better. And whenever someone brings us something, we let them know we’re listening. But not only that we ask them we have calls to where we’ll, we’ll call our care providers. And we’ll say, how do you feel that the care services are going right now for one of our clients? Is there a way from the office that we can support you and ensuring that we offer that quality care? And by asking them sometimes what seems like a small question on our end, it lets them know that we have confidence in their ability and their opinions. So it’s not that we’re doing anything great or grand it’s that we’re taking the time to value and actually listen to what they’re saying to us.
One follow-up question to that in your experience collecting this feedback or getting this input, which methods of communication have you found to be the most effective? I know you mentioned phone calls, maybe email, but what really gets the best feedback for you guys?
Text is usually the most effective way to get the communication started. A lot of times we’ll follow it up with a phone call and then we always send out, you know, the, the mass emails that we don’t always get a huge response from the emails. Like we do our, our texts and our phone calls. And then we have a social media, you know, group that’s just exclusively for our care team. And we share a lot more of our stories and experiences with one another that we don’t necessarily put out into the public. And that’s another great way to keep them engaged in a professional yet still, it feels like a very personal way of really staying connected with them.
Yeah, appreciate that insight. I think meeting the caregivers where they are is so important when you’re collecting feedback, because maybe an agency owner is just hounding email after email, but they’re not getting any response back. So it’s important to listen and figure out, you know, what method of communication works best for your team. So appreciate your input there. Let’s talk about employee value proposition EVP, that may be a phrase that’s familiar to agency owners, or it may not be. So talk to me a little bit about the role of what is an EVP and what it looks like at your agency and just the importance of having that in place.
Yeah. Well, whenever we’re talking about the EVP and I mean, putting three letters on it makes it sound like it’s a really big deal, you know, but what it really is, is it’s just the opportunity for you to showcase the benefits that you’re offering to that employee in return for their skill or experience and, and their capabilities. So it’s a two way, it’s a two way conversation. It’s a two way process. Whenever we’re setting down to either hire a new team member or really get that buy-in from a current caregiver, we need to be able to convey the value that we bring to our care providers and their life has, well, it shouldn’t just be about what skill or what value that they can bring to us as an employee. So when you’re looking at your employee value proposition, this could be, you know, obviously compensation or benefits. And a lot of it is about your culture, your, your core values, your communication. We found communication to be one of the most important things that we focus on. And we, you know, we don’t want to drop the ball on communication and then gaining their value. Their employee input is a huge part of the culture as well, and, and having advancement opportunities. That is a huge area that your EVP can be very attractive to your care team and to the applicants that you’re trying to attract.
Well, within our company, we have a hierarchy structure and whenever we’re presenting it to our care providers, especially those who are just coming in and starting out, we let them know that our desire is to see them grow and advance within the company as high as they possibly want to grow. And that we’re going to provide that training that they need. We’re going to provide the coaching and the mentorship so that when they come in, they they’re constantly being encouraged to, Hey, you’re doing a great job. I really see, I really see you advancing within the company. What is something what’s a goal that you have that we can help you reach? So not only about telling them how they can grow within our company, but seeing if what their personal goals with professionally will also align with what we have to offer and when our care providers, when they first come to that initial interview, they’ll often say, well, I guess as a caregiver, I never saw myself beyond that. What are the options? And when you begin to tell them about, you know, the care leave positions and how they can be promoted to a care manager and, and still do the care aspects that they love, you really begin to see their whole countenance changing about joining the team. And I love to see that excitement
Absolutely here at Home Care Pulse, we talk about that career ladder, you know, setting them up for success and giving them options. Like you mentioned, Hey, you know, there’s all this room for progression in our company and I love what you said about it, lighting them up. You know, it just gets them excited about their potential career in this occupation. I think that’s so cool. Two things that you hit on were training and mentorship programs. I’d love to hear a little bit about how you use training as a tool to kind of enhance that value proposition.
Absolutely. I think training is one of the biggest areas of investment that we should provide as a home care agency, because when they, one of the most important things in our company is our care team. I mean, they are what makes everything possible. And also the quality of care that we provide is completely contingent on the quality that is being trained within our care team. So if we want to provide that consistency, if we want to provide that quality, then we have to train them. We can not expect to hire people to walk in and them be exactly what we’re wanting to put out. We need to coach and train them on our values on our standards, on our qualities of care. And so with training, I think that by really being able to tell them, look, not only are we going to hire you and then we’re going to invest in advancing you, but we’re also going to give you every tool you need.
And all of the support along the way is so important. And I know with, in the know, you guys have an incredible online portal that they can go on and take their courses. And from a standpoint, from a business standpoint, to be able to have them train online, it makes recruiting and retainment or retention so much easier and faster because I know, you know, back in the day, whenever I wasn’t doing a lot of online training, there were, there would be weeks where I would kind of stop recruiting, or I would notice that my team would kind of slow down on recruiting and it’s because they would say, well, I can get them in, but then I don’t really have the time to train them. So to be able to hire someone instantly get them engaged in training, but not only that, whenever we promote our care providers to care leads, we have them go back to that online training and take initial some additional courses that will help them really grow and better themselves with, in their line of work.
And they, they feel so much more confident. And that’s something that our, our care providers, they say a lot. And just a few weeks ago, we really, we got a really great review from a care provider who come in, she didn’t have any previous caregiving experience. And she said with nobility, not only did they give me the confidence to personally provide quality care, but they give me all of the tools that I needed to know how to respond to a dementia patient. And to her, it was just a review. But to my team, we were like, yes, yes, we are accomplishing what we are setting out to do. Yeah. Oh, I love that. Thanks for sharing that story too. I wanted to ask how your training
Has that evolved across 2020? You know, we know a number of agencies that do an in-person training from the get go, and then kind of segue into online training, but it sounds like you guys do more online training. Have you adapted your training much this year or when you switched to online? Was that a pretty, you know, switch to solely online?
We had already been integrating online courses, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Obviously we had a lot of additional courses, especially that were, you know, COVID related that they were taking online and we still like to have them come in for that initial orientation. And, and what I mean by that, that, that first initial training where it’s, where you really can set down with that person, get to know them in a training professional capacity, more than just, you know, your, your interview meeting. But from there, we do a lot of online training, especially, you know, we, we have them do eight hours, at least before we assign them somewhere. And that really helps them to feel prepared. And with us being in home care ops, we speak to a lot of owners who say, well, I have online training, but I don’t have a lot of care providers who are getting in there and completing the training.
And two, if you’re one of those home care owners, I completely understand when we started out doing the online, you know, I was still a little bit old school and others, Oh my goodness. People want to train in person, but we’re going to see how this goes. And we didn’t have as many people complete it. But then we had to shift our mindset and say, this is important. And this is something that must be done before you’re assigned to your, your client. And it will help you along the way. It’ll help you feel supported or give the tools that you need. And also you can start this right away and be compensated for all of these training hours that you’re doing at home in your own time. And then we would follow up with them to let them know, how is the training going? Do you find the portal easy to use?
What was your most engaging moment in training? What did you find most interesting? Is there anything that you found completely boring? Let us know that too. You know, we ask them questions that will keep them engaged. And with that, we get a lot of buy-in. They love that they can get started, even if maybe we haven’t even assigned them to a client yet. So I really encourage everyone out there that if you don’t have a solid training system to consider putting one in place as quickly as possible, cause you would be amazed at the retention that would happen, especially in those first 90 days of employment with those new hires,
Like you said, we hear that time and time from owners through, in the know saying that the perception from the agency owners to their care providers, how you see the training and how you use the online training reflects back on how the caregivers will use it. So like you said, you know, at first it may seem like, wow, caregivers, aren’t completing this online training, but that really means you as the admin team or the ownership need to change that perception or shift that paradigm for the caregivers to really enjoy and utilize the online training, because it’s such a valuable tool. So appreciate what you said there. One other thing that I just wanted to hit on our mentorship programs, we hear a lot of buzz around that. We hear a lot of good feedback from that. Do you have a specific mentorship program in place or do you just kind of use the role of mentors in your agency holistically?
Well, do we have a mentorship program in place? Not necessarily. I wouldn’t just call it a mentorship program because what we have done is our entire hierarchy structure lens toward mentoring and coaching. And I absolutely love it because what we have done with the way that we created our hierarchy structure is that our, our care, our caregivers each and every one of them are a true support to the leadership team. And so whenever you, you come on in, you’re hired on, as you know, we call our caregivers, we call them care providers, and then we will begin working with them, you know, in the first few weeks of employment on advancing them into care leads. And it’s our care leads that are helping them advance. And then for our care leads, we have our care managers that is on a weekly basis. They’re connecting and they’re training and they’re coaching the, the, the care provider in that care lead position under the care management.
So because of that, we have a lot of coaching and support among our team. And then we also have something called care connects, and I love these. And that’s something that we do at least we, we like to try to do them every six months, but at least once a year, I encourage you to have something where you are bringing your care providers in to the office. And it’s not so that you can correct them. It’s not with the intention of giving a raise and with our care connects, we let them know this is, this is a time we want you to come into the office. You’re going to be compensated for it, but we just want to connect with you. We’re going to ask you, how are you feeling within your position? How do you feel like the care’s going? How can we improve your overall view of our company and, and what you do?
Is there any way that we can support you? How would you feel about moving into that care lead? And there is something that might be a coaching opportunity. We’ll, we’ll tell them something great that they’re doing. And then we’ll tell them, and an area of opportunity that I would really like to see you work on is connecting, engaging with a client or, or whatever it may be. But whenever they come in, they know that they’re there just to connect and be encouraged. And they don’t have any fear when they leave that it was about a, you know, correcting them or a write up and they don’t come with the expectation of a race. They literally know that they’re coming to connect with not just their, you know, their care team outside of the office, but with the leadership. And we’ve been doing that the past two years. And we have really seen an amazing change in the team dynamic as a whole, between our leadership and the complete care team.
Great, great ideas and great concepts here. Absolutely love it. I’m just kind of mapping out in my head. So you have care providers, care leads and care managers. I don’t think that’s super common to have kind of those three groupings. I’m just kind of speaking out loud here. So I’d love to hear you go into just a little bit why you’ve got it broken down that way. And what are some of, kind of the roles of both the leads and the managers?
Yeah. So now let’s put this in perspective. I have been in home care for years and years and years, you know, back when sitters were cool and you could call communities facilities and it was normal and, you know, 1099s were more common than W2’s like over a decade. You know, I’ve been in home care a long time and, you know, a few years ago I would have prided myself and thinking that I really knew how to operate a home care agency. You know, and then I started my own, you know, funny how that happens. And then you realize you have a lot to learn, but in the process now that’s when my husband Clinton Nobles, he come on board a few months after I had started our home care agency. And now he’s an operational methodologist and he had worked for some major corporations in the past.
So he brought all of that corporate knowledge into back then. What I felt like was my little old, you know, home care agency. And he began to set, you know, he began saying, look, I know this is about personal care, but if you find ways to build buy-in to build leadership, to build accountability, responsibility and delegation within your home care agency, you are going to find a lot more freedom of time and a lot more control. So we began putting a lot of that into practice and, you know, it started simply, but whenever I started the home care agency, I started with a very, very, very small budget. And I was having to do everything, you know, wear every hat, including I was providing some of the hourly care with the clients. And whenever we started growing, I continued to provide care in the house on an hourly basis.
And Clint said, why are you doing that? You, you, you should delegate that out. You should hire people to do that. And I said, well, I want to make sure that the quality that I am promising, these people is actually being delivered and given on a daily basis, you know, not just when I’m visiting. And he said, well, we need to begin creating some type of advancement opportunity that has training all along the way and accountability all along the way. And so from there, we, you know, we assigned a care lead for that particular client. And then as the company grew those care lead screw into care managers and begin training the care leads beneath them. So it kind of, it happened to me organically, but, you know, talking to Clint now, he was like, no, that was all part of the bigger program here. But through that, we have seen so much buy-in and, and the retention of our company is really great. The team dynamic is great. And also it doesn’t matter if we’re doing 300 hours a week or 3000 hours a week or 5,000 hours a week, the quality can be the same, no matter what size of agency we are, because we make sure that everybody clients and care providers included are getting that one-on-one coaching and that accountability and that communication that they need.
Oh, I’m so glad we touched on that. I think everything that you included there was so great and Clint’s role in that and your role in that from the early stages, you know, you providing the hourly care to then, you know, needing to take a step back to free up your time and to gain that control. I just think that is such a great story with so many lessons for providers to understand that even implementing, you know, that care lead and then that care manager adding a couple of extra seats per se, just gives the care providers that incentive to work hard to then move up. I think there that can’t be, you know, overstated that importance of that ladder and adding those seats to then add that value to each and every provider. I think that’s great.
And I think it all goes back to us viewing our caregivers, our care providers for what they truly are. And that is an asset to our company. They are an asset to us. They are to be valued. They are not to be viewed as a liability. And when, when, when we gain that perspective and then we put those systems in place that can really support those, those care providers as the assets that they are, that’s when we can truly see growth happen in our business. And, you know, like everybody says a happy, you know, a happy caregiver is a happy client. So it’s important that we, we focus and truly invest in every member of our care team.
I want to, this is kind of maybe putting you on the spot a little bit, but through Home Care Ops, you work with a lot of providers across the board, you know, small agencies to large agencies across the nation, any examples or stories that you could share from another agency and how they’ve used or implemented this hierarchy structure and some of the results that that’s generated?
Oh, absolutely. I just actually talked with one just a little bit earlier today that we have been working with just for a few weeks, and it’s one of our master operators. And we were talking to her about building an accountability structure within her team. And right now she’s working on promoting kind of her, some of her superstar caregivers promoting them to the care leads and the care managers. And I taught with her earlier this morning, and she said, just three weeks in, and I’m already seeing a major difference. I went the entire holiday weekend with no calls. Like when I walked in this morning, I had found out that a few people had called out. But then the care managers that we had just promoted, they just stepped up. They took care of it. And I had a completely unplugged relaxed weekend. And I cannot wait to see what our team is going to look like in just three months from now. And so I was, I was excited about that and whenever any of our the, the people who entrust us with coaching them whenever they have a win, Oh my goodness. It is just as big as me having a win, maybe even bigger. I get so giddy and excited.
I think that’s every providers, every agency owners, dream, you know, is to have weekends like that, where they can really unplug and rely on their team to take those calls and to step up to the plate when something comes up. So I can only imagine just that feeling of satisfaction as an owner, to have your team step up and take on the responsibility that you yourself would have to take had they not. Absolutely. Oh, that’s so great to hear. Well, any other stories or experiences coming to mind that you want to share before I cut you off there?
Goodness, I have so many. And it’s one of those things that whenever I see home care owners, especially whenever they’re growing and I see the fear of growth, being a huge challenge that they have to, you know, overcome. So we had one of our clients, you know, they had called up and they said, Hey, can you help us? We’ve kind of just topped out, you know, at several thousand hours a week, we’ve talked out. And I think my team is scared to grow because with growth comes more work. And I told, I said, wait, we can help you with that. We’ve got you covered because every member of your team, if you have 220 caregivers, then you have 220 sources of support. So I told her, I said, we’re going to go in there and we’re going to start really developing every member of your team.
And as we began to do the training on a caregiver level, not necessarily the office leadership, we got them in, you know, involved too. They were the ones we were training them and they were training the caregivers beneath them. But we saw them grow this year in the middle of a pandemic. We saw them grow by over 1600 hours a week. And that was an amazing accomplishment to see. And not only that, they said, it’s getting easier and easier. We were afraid that growth meant more work, more stress, more hours. But now we’re seeing that it gives us the ability to promote more leadership. And now the owner, you know, he’s getting to take a few days off and, and really feel like, okay, I am an entrepreneur. I am not just tied down to my desk at my home care office. So I love that. I love being able to see home care owners say, wow, I can do what I love and that’s provide care, not always put out fires.
It’s interesting that fear of growth, that is such an interesting concept, but also makes sense. And like you’re saying, when you’ve got the tools and the resources and the processes in place, you know, you shouldn’t have that fear. It’s just trusting in your employees and trusting in your processes and then moving on and yet focusing on the business rather than just working inside the business.
Yeah, and that’s what we really within home care ops. And we have our, our action leaders experience. And that’s a monthly membership where we teach people systems and how to put systems in place. Because one thing I have learned, and I don’t ask me how I learned this is that if you don’t have a system in place, you will work twice as hard on trying to catch up, find what you lost and putting out those fires than if you would’ve just went in, made a plan, created a system adapted as necessary. And then also take what you have learned the systems you’ve put in place and make sure that they’re being communicated and trained to your leadership and your care providers. Goodness, you will have so much more time, so much more energy. You will be in a much more positive mood by just making sure that you have a plan and that system in place.
And it’s not complicated. You know, whenever people hear that we have home care ops you know, the first thing I know a lot of them thank us. Oh, that’s no fun to think about who wants to think about operations. But if you, when you see operations for what it really is, it’s an experience to go in and set up and construct your experience for it to be the best that it can be. We have something called a post-ops party and our actual leaders that they love doing that post ups party. Because within that 30 minute party, they can completely see their operational structure, own the wall in a fun and engaging and exciting way. And that’s what I want. Every home care owner out there, every home care operator, every managing partner and operational coordinator and schedulers bless their hearts and recruiters and team developers.
I want them to really understand that, getting your operations in order and taking control of your daily task and your business and your agency. It’s not hard, it’s not complicated. It just takes vision and consistency and follow through and follow up. That’s really why that’s all it takes to make those consistent systems work for you, work for your agency, help you grow both professionally and personally, because as home care owners, often we are the last person that truly gets care. And it’s important that home care owners and managers out there that they take time to also have their own time to recuperate and to rest and not feel like they’re always, you know, behind the ball.
Jessica, thank you so much for everything you’ve shared today, before we close out, I want to give you just a chance to talk a little bit about your Facebook grou, that so many are a part of, but some may not. So tell me a little bit about that and what’s the best way for people to get in contact with you?
Yeah, absolutely. We do, we have a incredible Facebook group online and it is awesome and it’s awesome because of all of our members that are on there, we have over 2000 home care owners and operators. And within that Facebook group on a daily basis, we’re all sharing, encouragement, inspiration, ideas, tips, asking questions, giving support. It really is an incredible community. And we have several free webinars and action casts that happen. Either monthly or weekly, there’s a lot of resources and a lot of engagement within that group. And that’s really the best way to connect with me and, and Clint and with Home Care Ops is go to Facebook and be asked to join the home care operators community. And come on in, we will welcome. You ask your questions. It really is a fun, friendly, encouraging, inspirational place. And Facebook can be the biggest thing is can sometimes be our biggest distraction. Now this is the one group that I’m going to tell you, you can come in and you can walk away with some actionable content that you can also put in place that day.
Yeah, we absolutely love this group and the ActionCasts and the videos, like you said, there’s so many free resources right here in the group. So you won’t go away having wasted 10 minutes of your social media time for that day, it’ll be valuable.
Exactly. And they can also go to homecareops.com our website, and that would also direct them back to the Facebook group as well. And then we have our action leaders, a monthly membership. There’s some information there within the Facebook group itself and then homecareops.com. But there’s plenty of ways that you can come engage with us right away. Me and Clint are still very active within the Facebook group. We’re in there answering questions, asking questions ourselves and, and we love, we love getting all that feedback and, and really knowing what’s going on this present, you know, minute with so many home care owners within the industry. I mean, that, that’s huge. That’s huge for us. It’s even on a home care owner on that level to be in able to go in and have that support system is great.
Well, like always on the episode landing page, we’ll include a link to this group, a link to home care ops. Also the EVP that we talked about, the employee value proposition we’ll include a download there as well. So include all those links on the landing page for our listeners to go in and download once again, Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to join me on the show today.
Thanks for listening to this episode of vision with Jessica Nobles to learn more about Home Care Pulse and our client and caregiver surveys, caregiver training, or online review management solutions for home care providers, visit our website homecarepulse.com. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time!