Employee Retention in the Home Care Industry: Can Technology Help?

Oct 19, 2017 9:12:00 AM

If your agency doesn’t yet have a plan for holding onto your most talented caregivers, you could be in trouble. With turnover rates exceeding 65 percent and a potentially disastrous caregiver shortage looming, employee retention is one of the biggest challenges the in-home care industry faces.

Employee Retention in the Home Care Industry: Can Technology Help?As a result, agencies are scrambling to figure out how to make their employees happier, without breaking the budget. And they’re increasingly finding success from a surprising source: Technology.

The secret ingredient here is the ability of the right technology to bring transparency into all aspects of how caregivers deliver care.

Certainly, some caregivers may not appreciate this level of visibility. Caregivers may also worry about “Big Brother” monitoring their every activity, or they may be concerned that over-reliance on technology will simply be an excuse for less hands-on support from agency management.

In fact, though, once the technology has been implemented, the opposite often turns out to be true: Increased transparency creates an environment in which caregivers feel truly supported by their agency. This satisfaction in turn influences employee retention; caregivers who feel more supported are happier and more likely to stay where they are.

Let’s explore two fundamental ways technology helps this happen.

The struggle to complete paperwork

In the typically over-scheduled day for most caregivers, there’s not always adequate time in between client appointments to complete all the notes from each visit. Frequently, caregivers take their paperwork home with them to complete later that evening. And yet, exhausted by the end of the day, this is often harder to do (or at least, harder to do well) than it would seem.

As a result, accuracy of documentation suffers. In fact, when caregivers wait just four hours to transcribe their notes, accuracy is only 63 percent. That’s not a great number, and inaccurate records make it much harder for the next caregiver to deliver appropriate, timely care for the client.

That assumes the next caregiver even has access to the notes. If the first caregiver has to drive the notes back into the office for the next caregiver to pick up, what happens when the first caregiver can’t make it to the office for a day or two? Should office staff have to hunt the caregiver down? Or should the next caregiver have to make do with what’s on file?

Contrast that to what happens when caregivers are able to electronically complete visit notes at the point of care. In these cases, accuracy jumps to a whopping 93 percent.

As well, digital documentation reduces the subjectivity often associated with caregiver notes. Rather than requiring caregivers to write extended descriptions – which can be impacted by the caregiver’s mood, for example – digital solutions can include such customizations as radio buttons, short text fields, and standardized responses.

This improved accuracy ensures everyone on the client’s extended care team has the insights they need to deliver great care – without unnecessary subjectivity, and without having to wait for the caregiver to drop the documentation off at the office.

Typically, when implementing a point-of-care documentation solution, agency leadership is primarily focused on agency-level benefits, such as better agency performance during audits. What is often surprising is how much improved documentation impacts caregivers as well, making them feel more prepared and better supported by their agency.

Dealing with changing circumstances

Few things are more nerve-wracking for a caregiver than walking into an unknown situation in a client’s home. From aggressive dogs to contagious illnesses, caregivers never know exactly what they’ll find on the other side of the door.

Up-to-date documentation is a critical first step, yes. But getting the documentation into the hands of the caregiver at the right moment is what really makes the difference.

Consider an agency with a digital solution that provides caregivers real-time access to the client’s records. Now envision what happens when a substitute caregiver with this agency visits a client for the first time. The caregiver simply pulls up the file before she leaves home for the day, and she’ll find everything she needs to know – such as that the client is bedridden and can’t respond to a knock at the door, and that a key will be left under the doormat for the caregiver.

The ease with which the caregiver can access client records means that caregiver becomes empowered to deliver a more successful visit.

Real-time communication between the caregiver and the agency extends this support. For example, if office staff notice that a caregiver has been at a visit too long, they can message the caregiver. Perhaps the patient is deteriorating and requires extra care. Or perhaps (heaven forbid), the caregiver finds herself in a dangerous situation and needs the agency to send emergency help. Whatever the circumstance, the agency is now in the position to provide the caregiver with the support she needs, in the moment.

Similarly, it’s helpful when the caregiver can message the agency as well. For example, the caregiver may encounter an unsafe condition in the home, such as a broken stair case bannister; caregivers can take a photo and immediately inform agency staff, who can then quickly communicate with the client’s family about the need for the repair. Most caregivers truly care for their clients, and it’s immensely rewarding to know they’re making a difference, beyond the actual care they’re delivering.

Ultimately, that’s the real success of technology in the agency: The right technology makes caregivers feel supported, prepared, and empowered to deliver the best care possible. It all boils down to arming caregivers with the tools they need to feel more confident in the care they deliver.

When caregivers are set up for success, the happier they’ll be. Do this well, and everyone wins: agencies, caregivers, and most important of all, clients.

And yet, not all home care technologies are created equal. Before agencies jump into a technology that’s poorly suited to their operations, it’s important to first understand what is needed. From there, vendors and offerings can be compared and the right solution can be chosen.

Download our complimentary e-book, “How to Choose a Mobile Health Care and Services Delivery Solution,” to help you identify the right technology for your agency.

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Topics: Communication, Productivity, Retention