The goal of quality care is undisputed by all parties. However, home care workers and clients often have very different perspectives.
Having worked in the industry for the last eight years as a scheduling coordinator and intake manager, I learned that matching client and caregiver needs has never been black and white or as simple as we would like it to be.
Take cost. Clients are often working on a budget or an authorization for care services with hourly restrictions on care that might not adequately reflect their level of need. Caregivers, meanwhile, seek full-time or part-time employment on a regular schedule, which often conflicts with the turbulent nature of client scheduling needs. Some clients come into home care seeking a temporary solution to tide them over until the end of their recovery process. Others start small and exponentially increase as needs change.
Then there’s training. Caregivers want to be trained in a client’s home in order to accurately and adequately feel more comfortable with the care tasks at hand. Clients, however, trust that a caregiver can come in and pick up soon after walking through the door. Otherwise, they might be asked not to come back.
When it comes to providing high-quality home care services, it’s important to focus on a recruitment-first strategy. Focus on hiring experienced or coachable talent who understand the complex needs of aging clients and training them to use the technology, practical skills and soft skills that they need to succeed in today’s home care workforce.
This will help bridge the gap between client and caregiver needs — communicating the value of home care services to prospective clients while creating robust schedules that meet the needs of caregivers.
We know that schedules aren’t the only important factor. It’s also important to have a culture that genuinely cares for caregivers. What exactly does that look like? It means scratching out sick time and PTO from your benefits section of job descriptions. These are basic necessities. It means surveying your caregivers for things that they might need and ideas for your training curriculum and more.
Caregivers faced numerous struggles throughout the pandemic. One New York-based study determined five themes that emerged as a result for home care workers. Caregivers were:
- On the front lines but invisible
- At increased risk for transmission of virus
- Given non-regulated amounts of information, training, and supplies (including PPE)
- Given no other choices but to rely on external support for work-related matters
- Forced to make sacrifices and trade-offs in their personal and professional lives
The virus also puts families and clients in a tough situation. They’re relying on external support and sources of information during this time. By using the virus as an opportunity to band together and unite in the name of high-quality care and support for clients, families and caregivers, we can come up with a solution that moves the industry forward.
This takes us right back to the beginning. The driving force that keeps home care alive is the need to provide quality care to seniors. If this becomes the epicenter and the focus of home care agencies, families and caregivers, care can go a lot smoother.
If you have a team of caregivers that are dedicated to your mission and purpose to serve seniors, you’ll have brand ambassadors that champion and promote your business to keep their pipeline of work full.
Jennifer Lagemann is a former family caregiver, as well as a professional caregiver and administrator at home care agencies. She works as a writer and researcher, helping care providers to create patient- and family-friendly websites, articles and marketing literature.