As the number of COVID-19 cases across the U.S. continues to climb each week, we know it’s a long way out of these woods. Whatever impact the pandemic has on the home care industry in the near and long term are stories still to be written.
In a recent AlayaCare survey, conducted with Home Health Care News, 60 percent of agencies report COVID-19 to be the biggest challenge on both business and operations.
The massive shift has generated new problems to be solved, such as the need for virtual care, and exacerbated existing problems – such as caregiver shortage.
The ongoing high competition for skilled staff in home care is now blurred into the overall uncertain portrait of COVID’s impact on the home healthcare landscape.
In our survey, more than half of respondents chose caregiver shortage as a pain point, and 30 percent of participants noted that utilizing existing team members is a key problem.
This suggests that agencies may have to start re-imagining worker roles in order to find footing in the current landscape.
Digital solutions for retaining skilled home care staff
As we live with the pandemic, and as the industry talent shortage endures (now heightened by any isolation requirements for ill staff), home care agencies must look to modernize operations, uncover efficiencies, and attract and retain skilled caregivers.
Look first toward technology. Capable home care software, complete with mobile platforms, eliminates much of the tedious work and time-consuming travel that leads to dissatisfaction, burnout and a caregiver’s eventual departure. It can also uncover efficiencies with scheduling and other operational processes so that fewer caregivers may be required in the first place.
How can technology curb home care worker churn during COVID?
Streamlined, efficient and clear communication between office staff, caregivers and clients is more important now than ever. Video conferencing solutions purpose-built for the home care market, as well as mobile features like real-time alerts and risk visibility provide staff with critical information about a client – and in turn, peace of mind. It also enables accurate, rapid data collection and reporting, forging transparency that builds trust between caregiver and agency.
Deploy time-saving tools
COVID-19 has forced the end of many paper processes simply because of circumstance. Yet GPS-based mobile care management systems also streamline patient care, electronic visit verification and record keeping, ridding busy professionals of tedious work such as completing time sheets.
Mobile apps with point-of-care documentation, handy visit timers, clock in/out elements and other tools both save time for caregivers and make agencies more nimble.
Our data shows that a workforce optimization solution yields between a 10 and 20 percent increase in caregiver utilization – meaning that they are actively using tools that makes their job easier.
We found such solutions cut weekly travel time by 33 percent, scheduling time by 35 percent, and recruitment costs by 15 percent.
All of this adds up to the ability to do more, often with fewer caregivers required.
Satisfied caregivers have schedules that work for them and meet their expectations. Modern software delivers accurate, real-time intel, including maps and optimized visit routes so that schedules are convenient for caregivers, with time/distance metrics built in before a care worker is selected. It’s also possible to automate the profiles of every worker so schedules are matched to preferences – from hours worked to personal skills and interests. Shift/visit offers allow staff to claim unclaimed shifts and gives caregivers the capability to even set their own hours, increasing both their pay and preferred work times.
Forecast the future
Reap the power of machine learning, which can analyze heaping amounts of data across clients and stakeholders.
The key to fighting churn isn’t just to make caregivers’ jobs more satisfying, but to proactively address the churn months before it happens.
Predictive software is available now to any agency, who can use this data over time to predict hiring needs and prevent churn before it happens – even amidst a pandemic.