Supporting patient, caregiver and family engagement with technology

AlayaCare Posted on Jul 19, 2022

Families have turned away from nursing homes and other institutionalized settings at record rates over the last few years. Instead, they’re choosing home care for their loved ones. As a result, home care organizations are not only caring for more clients – but more clients with acute and complex needs.

It’s far from the only new demand for home care organizations. Value-based Medicaid payments have finally rolled out across nine states in 2022, with many more states forecasted to follow shortly. Agencies accepting these reimbursements are required to deliver better outcomes and back these claims up with data.

Between changing payer rules, consumer preferences and acute client health needs, the demands on the home care industry are higher than ever. Agencies must learn to do more with the same resources as the caregiver shortage continues to strain the sector.

The good news for home care leaders? New digital tools and strategies also continue to evolve to support these changing needs. AlayaCare CEO & Founder Adrian Schauer, predicts that the technology industry will rise to the challenge, offering digital tools that enable innovative home care agencies to adapt to the new care landscape over the next few years.

Curious how your organization can adapt to these new demands? On three recent episodes of Home Health 360, AlayaCare’s podcast offering global perspectives on home healthcare, hosts Jeff Howell and Erin Vallier spoke with industry leaders about how they leverage novel tools and implement programs to increase engagement across entire client’s entire circle of care.

Use clinical providers as coaches for home care providers

Home care clients require more complex care plans than ever. As a result, caregivers and nurses need to complete more involved ADLs than ever before.

Lourdes Wiley, Clinical Educator and Nurse Consultant, and Irina Gorovaya, Home Health Consultant, Educator, and Founder of Amity Healthcare Group, explored the importance of staff training and competency programs at home care agencies during Episode 14 of Home Health 360. They shared recommendations for agencies seeking to maximize their share of the growing acute home care market while providing complex care safely.

Goravaya suggests that agencies reimagine their competency program from a box-checking event to a transformational program. “You’re setting up the grounds to not only ensure you have skilled and knowledgeable personnel - but most importantly, to get better patient outcomes with better knowledge and better skills,” says Goravaya.

As a consultant, Wiley reviews many clinical charts for personal care agencies. She notes, “There’s a norm of expecting home health nurses to figure it out. But we shouldn’t be expecting this; it’s dangerous. We arm them with the why – why is this important, why does this work?”

Wiley and Goravaya frequently encounter agencies hesitant to train caregivers who might leave within three months. But they recommend that organizations not only look at competency programs as an investment in staff retention.

Hiring a competency training consultant, like Amity Healthcare Group, is an excellent option for many agencies. But this is something many organizations could take on themselves if they have a clinical leader willing to spearhead this - and the funds to invest in training equipment.

Once you’ve implemented new competency training for your team to take their skills to the next level, ensure you’re setting, tracking and measuring the new metrics you can now achieve. Lean on your home care software provider for the tools to create and manage client care plans. And then ensure you’re tracking and reviewing ADLs via a care worker mobile app.

Leverage new tools to educate and empower caregivers

Providing different outcomes for clients means using new tools. And perhaps some new perspectives.

In Episode 2 of Home Health 360, Mari Baxter, COO, and David Chandler, Senior Director of Strategic Programs at Senior Helpers Franchising, shared how they use innovative caregiver training that has proven effective at keeping their clients out of hospital and living at home for longer.

The team at Senior Helpers has implemented a hands-on training course for caregivers where they roleplay care scenarios, find & remove hazards and learn practical new techniques in a four-room apartment setting. And they offer it to clients’ families as well.

While it’s not a traditional approach, Baxter notes, “I can have a caregiver in a client's home from nine to five. But then a family member comes in and doesn't know how to use a Hoyer lift or a tub bench properly. What good is it if we can only keep clients safe while we're there?”

And they don’t stop at family training – everyone at Senior Helpers goes through the same program, including executives.

Their hands-on technique has successfully kept their clients living independently for two months longer on average. But Baxter shares that it’s also increased client satisfaction: "Families can rest assured if they hire someone from Senior Helpers that we have verified our caregivers’ skillset.”

And what’s even better? It’s attracting caregivers to their organization. Baxter says, “It's so fun to watch caregivers call you up and say - can I come to your training? I heard you guys have this fun training. That’s never happened to me before. 

Implement messaging tools that connect the client’s care team

Although many technologies across the Internet of Things, such as wearables, passive alarms and virtual assistants, have made big promises about how they can transform the home care industry – few have made a significant impact so far. In Episode 9 of Home Health 360, Intrepid USA CEO John Kunysz pointed out, “Seniors don’t want to wear Life Alerts. It’s a badge of dishonor. The technology exists, but it hasn’t been integrated in a way that seamlessly fits into a patient’s environment.”

So how can innovative home care agencies use technology to enhance communication – and improve outcomes? By leveraging Family Portals that connect and engage the entire circle of care: clients, loved ones, caregivers and agency leadership.

How do messaging tools like Family Portal improve outcomes? They allow clients and their loved ones to:

  • Request a different frequency of recurring visits or request one-off visits
  • Take a more significant role in the care plan by reviewing goals, inventions and progress
  • Keep track of medications and vitals shared on the portal
  • Improve caregiver-client matching through confidential personnel reviews
  • Share updates from other care providers that may otherwise not be communicated

For many agencies, client retention can be as challenging as caregiver retention. Family Portals increase patient engagement and participation in care and reduce client turnover.

Engaging the circle of care with technology

There are many paths to better care using innovative techniques and strategies. But one tool connects all your options: technology.

Intrepid USA CEO John Kunsyz’s advice for home care organizations on picking the right technology platform? “Think about where you want to be three to five years from today.”

While there isn’t one technique that will single-handedly transform patient, caregiver and family member engagement – there is one technology platform that can unite your tools: AlayaCare. We propel agencies to the future of home care with solutions that improve clinical outcomes, measure & manage key performance metrics and give caregivers the tools to do their best work. And you won’t want to miss our new and improved Family Portal.

Connect with us today to discover how we can support your organization as you deliver the next generation of care.

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Topics: Back Office Suite, Care Worker Mobile App, Family Portal, Caregiver Churn, Home Care