Today we’re sharing some insights gathered by Sam Freund, a marketing associate with Shoshana Technologies, at DecisionHealth’s 21st Annual Private Duty National Conference & Expo. The conference was held Nov. 12-14 in Las Vegas.

The 2018 DecisionHealth Private Duty National Conference & Expo was once again packed with informative sessions featuring speakers from across the home care industry sharing insights related to topics ranging from agency liability to new data describing the landscape. As much as I wish it was possible, I was not able to attend every session at the conference. I did, however, notice a common thread within several of the sessions that I did attend, and that was a focus on caregiver turnover, recruitment, and retention.

Optimize Onboarding and Training to Get the Most out of Caregivers

The opening session on day one set the tone. Kunu Kaushal, CEO of Senior Solutions; Guy Tomassi, Jr., director of LIFETIME Care at Home; and Laura Shaw-deBruin, director of Norwood Seniors Network came together to share some of the growth strategies they’ve employed in their own businesses. Tomassi and Shawn-deBruin both suggested making connections with your local CNA school as a recruitment source, with Tomassi’s agency having set up a home care training program within the school. They noted that this potential resource often goes untapped as many students at these schools are unaware that private duty home care is even an option.

However, it was an idea that Kaushal shared that really struck me and shaped my perspective as I attended the rest of the sessions. While most speakers shared their caregiver turnover rate, Kaushal took the opposite tack. In his own words, he “thinks the retention game is overrated.” This is not to say that it’s unimportant to retain your best caregivers, but it is his belief that the industry at large has put too much attention on caregiver retention rates and not enough emphasis around the actual causes of turnover. Moreover, Kaushal’s agency has embraced the idea that his agency may simply be a stepping stone for some caregivers. Instead of focusing on how to keep caregivers that may have no plans of staying, his agency has instead put more focus on improving onboarding time. If some caregivers are likely to move on anyway, then the orientation and training period should be made as efficient and effective as possible. In doing so, agencies can help ensure that they get the most out of their caregivers, regardless of how long their tenure with the agency ends up being.

And when a caregiver does leave, Kaushal says it’s important to ask, “Did you push them out or did they have a positive experience with your agency?”

Improving Your Home Care Agency’s Focus on Caregiver Satisfaction

That last thought leads to the topic of caregiver satisfaction and is something that Brandi Kurtyka of thinks about a lot. Kurtyka spends a great deal of time analyzing where caregivers choose to work and why. She shared with us that caregivers are, on average, receiving more than three calls a week for jobs elsewhere and 65 percent reported they were always on the lookout for a better job. She stressed, however, that this is not due to a lack of loyalty as 24 percent of caregivers said they can’t afford to work as a caregiver long term. Demographically, the caregiver population typically includes many disadvantaged groups, so it is understandable that these people would be on the hunt for a job that takes care of them. To give agencies ideas on how to court and retain these caregivers, Kurtyka suggested looking at companies that are really successful in attracting new caregivers and then building from there. She identified five aspects of the hiring-to-employee experience that are worth examining:

  • Offering
  • Experience
  • Processing
  • Brand
  • Talent Creation

Kurtyka suggested that within each of these categories there is a hook that will improve the caregiver experience – moving them to stay with your agency longer and refer more caregivers to your business.

Christina Nuqui, MSW, of Home Health Solutions LLC, continued the focus on caregiver satisfaction by zeroing in on the topic of recognition and appreciation. At the heart of Nuqui’s session was the belief that “people underestimate the power of appreciation.” Backed up by plenty of anecdotes and select pieces of data, she shared with us her view that one of the ways to retain caregivers that may often be overlooked is to properly express thanks and appreciation. Understandably, there are a few barriers that people may have when it comes to conversations like this, but with the example phrases she provided and her reasoning behind it she laid out a clear purpose for these conversations. She also shared insights into where the caregiver experience could be improved, echoing similar sentiments expressed earlier especially surrounding the hiring process.

Caregiver Management: Industry Trends and Performance

Finally, it was Home Care Pulse chairman and founder, Aaron Marcum, who brought it all together by leveraging some of the data collected in his organization’s 2018 benchmarking study to illustrate trends within the home care industry. After showing us that 57 percent of caregivers leave in the first three months, he said “The focus on turnover means we’re not paying attention to the most important thing – a happy caregiver. The first ninety days are crucial to that.” What he meant by that is that the onboarding process and those first days with an agency are when a new caregiver will get a sense of what support is going to be available to them while working for your agency. So if your agency isn’t giving thought to caregiver satisfaction at all stages of employment – but especially during those first few months of a caregiver’s time with your agency – it’s going to be really difficult, if not impossible, to improve turnover rates.

As you can see, this year’s PD conference was chock full of great information and insight on the latest trends and issues affecting the home care industry. I hope you’ve found this information to be as valuable as I did. For more information on the topic of caregiver management, check out these previous blog posts.