California is already the most populous state in America – and it’s projected to be one of the fastest growing states as well. The Golden State is expected to grow by 30 percent by the year 2060, which amounts to nearly 12 million more people. Startlingly, amidst such growth, California is set to welcome an influx of those aged 60 years and over -- a cohort that will surge by 166 percent in the same time period.
This aging demographic presents both challenges and opportunities for the home care industry. Agencies must strategize to stay competitive, relevant, and appealing not only to clients but to caregivers -- an escalating challenge in an era where demand for quality care is outpacing supply. As an added challenge in California, an increasing minimum wage is making it even harder to compete for workers, who may elect to even move out of caregiving and into other service-focused jobs if they can get the same or more money for often far less hectic and demanding work.
While there are a number of ways to “add value” to the caregiver profession -- from creating peer mentorship roles to communication and conflict resolution -- technology must be considered for its ability to curb employee churn and ultimately preserve an agency’s reputation for maintaining quality levels of care.
Caregiver churn can be viewed as a triple-edged sword for the home care industry:
We know that workforce stability is vital to business. Studies have shown that having at least 70 percent full-time employed nurses fosters continuity of care among many other benefits: reduced costs, better teamwork, and happier and more engaged staff.
And to achieve stability, agencies need their workers (and, in particular, top talent) to feel satisfied with their roles. This, the fight against employee churn, is not easy to do in this demanding industry. Workers who feel they aren’t getting the hours they want, at the locations they want, and during the times they want will naturally keep their eyes open for other employment opportunities. Or, again, they may exit the industry entirely.
For agencies, meeting the needs of care workers in a complex, shifting environment while managing multidisciplinary care plans, multiple visit requirements, moving clients from the hospital to their home, the list goes on…consistency seems almost improbable. This is where modern tech solutions can make a real difference in recruiting and retaining top talent, regardless of minimum wages or competitive job landscape.
Not only can technology relieve caregivers of the many inefficiencies that can contribute to burnout and eventual departure in the first place, but it provides increasing transparency into operations and added value for caregivers.
In fact, in a 2016 report from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), surveys clearly show that caregivers will embrace technology if it is seamless and integrated into their daily tasks. We’ve seen evidence of this willingness to embrace new tech with our clients every passing quarter. In fact, one of our clients recently reported a 100 percent uptake by day three of introducing our mobile app.
That seamless integration, with today’s advanced home care software, is entirely possible -- and the resulting benefits are clear. Our data shows that a workforce optimization solution will yield a 10-20 percent increase in caregiver utilization, 33.5 percent reduction in weekly travel time, 35 percent reduction in scheduling time and a 15 percent reduction in recruitment costs.
Other client-reported benefits include:
...and many more. Overall, over $3 million in annualized benefits have been identified with the implementation of AlayaCare software.
Here’s a deeper dive into how these benefits can be realized:
There’s no question that better schedules are correlated to satisfied staff, yet an ongoing issue in our industry is poor scheduling that not only requires coordinators to remember client and staff preferences, but ensure they’re all taken into account on an ongoing basis. Technology takes a giant leap forward here, ushering in accuracy and real-time information: an atmosphere that makes the lives of nurses and caregivers -- and the lives of back-office staff -- easier.
One factor that makes it difficult to provide care worker continuity in the home care industry are the physical locations of each client’s home. Whether in rural counties or urban, travel time and visit locations can quickly become obstacles in a care worker’s schedule -- thus impacting employee satisfaction and retention.
Key here is to utilize technology that incorporates maps and optimized visit routes to ensure schedules are convenient and efficient for both employees and clients -- like this. When matching an employee to a client, accurate travel time distance metrics can be calculated before that care worker is selected. Machine learning puts the right person in the right place at the right time -- enabling a balanced and physically possible schedule.
The right technology can also create a functional profile of each worker so their schedules can be matched to their preferences. It can incorporate daily, weekly and payroll minimum and maximum hours, as well as detail how skills and interests match up with individual client needs (for example, a registered nurse’s time is better spent administering medications than folding laundry.) Skills-matching is also invaluable for certain clients who have very specific needs, as are “do not send” lists for staff and clients whose personalities or other attributes simply do not connect for various reasons. The ability to make their own hours is also an invaluable and empowering tool for staff.
Clearly, employee-client compatibility is important to an agency for many reasons.
Ensuring seamless and effective client visits begins with a back-office coordinator filtering employees based on previous experience with the patient, required skills and qualifications, employee availability, and many other qualities.
In fact, care worker continuity can be expressed as a percentage right up-front -- helping ensure each client is paired with the field staff who know and understand their care plans. For a hypothetical example: Ethel’s primary caregiver is a 95 percent match with nurse Norma because of Norma’s specialized training with Alzheimer’s patients -- not to mention, they both love cats and playing gin rummy. PSW Viola is Ethel’s secondary caregiver with a 75 percent match when Norma is unavailable. Ethel is most comfortable with Norma but Viola still possesses the skill set needed to fill in when needed. This level of visibility means that if Norma isn’t available, Viola with the next highest continuity percentage can still have full visibility into the care plan history in order to ensure she can adequately provide care according to Ethel’s wants, needs, preferences and clinical status.
Effective software can also create a complete audit trail of care worker activities, as well as rich-media enabled documentation, enabling the substitute care worker to prepare for the visit and have a complete understanding of the client and their condition before they arrive.
That understanding, even subtle details about a client, is vital to overcoming employee churn. Software features like real-time alerts and risks visibility provides staff with critical information about a client -- a pre-visit briefing that puts them in charge, eliminating the discomfort of heading into a client’s home uninformed, or being at the mercy of a coordinator back at the office to call them with an update before a visit.
Skilled workers rely on preparation to be efficient, and to enjoy their client visits. This is clearly important in terms of that person’s care plan or health history, but also extends well beyond that. It can be invaluable for workers to know about risks, preferences and sensitivities beforehand, from disliking the smell of perfume, to knowing if the client has an unkempt home environment, or even a dog that gets riled up if the doorbell rings.
Ultimately, this article is about one thing: creating the best possible employee experience in order to stay relevant, competitive and appealing to caregivers. While route and schedule optimization and client visibility are important and timely topics, technology offers many other benefits, including subtle ones, that keep care worker morale high, including:
The right technology can help prevent churn before an employee even entertains their departure -- and can predict hiring needs before employees join an organization too. While this type of insight is only beginning to emerge, the picture is becoming clearer.
What if you knew, based on data, that in the next two months you will need one mental health worker in Camarillo whose shifts will fall on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays? Or that three new PSWs will be needed to support the Simi Valley area? Predictive technology is the way of the future and it will enable California’s home care agencies to hire proactively.
Technology also has the power to predict employee churn by identifying the specific indicators that are linked to decisions by employees to leave. When large amounts of data can be studied by a software company with dozens of clients, machine learning can offer such predictions. How would your operations change, for instance, if you knew that in the next six months 10 skilled staff are likely to leave? It will soon be commonplace to use data to decode attrition rates, and map these patterns to the future.
Overall, the best remedy for employee churn is to predict it -- and prevent it -- in the first place. California’s private pay agencies are in need of a solution to address the increasing issue of attracting and retaining quality caregivers in this highly uncertain landscape -- and technology is an important part of the answer.
In fact, the technology to address many of the issues currently faced by home care agencies is already here and in operation in agencies across the state, with new advancements coming online every year. While the upfront cost of implementing a new solution may seem daunting, the long term savings and added value of a software solution will ultimately pay for itself. With so much at stake, California’s home care agencies can’t afford to ignore the tools that can propel their business forward.
California’s private duty home care agencies are in need of a solution to address the increasing issue of attracting and retaining quality caregivers in this highly uncertain landscape -- and technology is an important part of the answer.
While the upfront cost of implementing a new solution may seem daunting, the long term savings and added value of a software solution will ultimately pay for itself. With so much at stake, California’s home care agencies can’t afford to ignore the tools that can propel their business forward.
Request a demo of AlayaCare's private duty home care software solution and see how we can help you stay competitive in the California market.
"A deal breaker for me when selecting a platform was whether they had a mobile aspect. It’s extremely important to be able to access information remotely and give our care workers this feature. Live reporting allows us to be as efficient and accurate as possible."
Sebastian Ignacio Arasanz Oakville Senior Citizens Residence (OSCR)
"AlayaCare’s real-time access to information at any time permits Access Healthcare’s caregivers to understand a client’s complete history before arriving for a scheduled visit. This vastly accelerates their ability to provide care, as clients don’t have to keep repeating their story to various field workers, and workers don’t have to use up valuable time in a client’s home by rifling through paper notes. All relevant information can be entered and viewed in real-time through a mobile device."
Tammy Hehn Access Healthcare Services Inc.