Home care agencies play a key role in the Canadian healthcare system. Without them, many individuals and families would have no one to help those who need them. Hospitals, retirement homes, and other institutionalized care facilities would become even more maxed out. We cannot overstate the important role that Home care agencies play, especially in the uncharted territory of Canada’s senior population explosion.
That being said, Home care is really only as good as their caregivers and we cannot overstate the importance and essentiality of good quality caregivers.
So if Home care agencies are only as good as their caregivers, how can they ensure they are getting the best caregivers, retaining them, and rewarding them for the incredible work that they do? Is it more money? Is it more flexibility?
In our experience we have seen that there are many factors that go into getting and keeping the best staff.
Here are some of our top tips for how your agency can build, attract, and retain your amazing caregivers:
- Be Transparent – Communication and transparency is key. Keep your caregivers in the loop with as much information about things as possible; information about the client’s, the company, their future, the direction of the company, their goals, your goals for them. Having them be a part of your team and knowing you are looking out for their future will ensure they do their best for you and your clients as they are invested in your future because you are invested in theirs.
- Schedule – Home care scheduling is a rollercoaster. As client’s needs change, and with new clients being added, new staff being added, staff illness, emergencies and more, scheduling can become incredibly demanding and difficult to stay on top of. Ensure you have the best possible schedule in place early, a month or two ahead if possible, to cut down stress in the office, enable your caregivers to plan their lives and finances or pick up extra shifts.
- Consider scope of practice – When you schedule caregivers with your clients, availability is only one factor you need to consider; fit is a critical piece of the scheduling puzzle. You want to ensure your caregiver’s experience, skills, demeanour and more match your client’s needs. Your clients will get better service and your caregivers will be far less stressed and uncomfortable if they are working within the scope of their abilities. Being a good match is as important as being available.
- Offer ongoing training – Continual training is a key component of retaining good caregivers and making sure that all of your caregivers know that you are invested in them. When your caregivers are given opportunities to learn new skills and gain confidence in their abilities, they will become better caregivers, employees, and typically, continual training instills a greater sense of pride. Do not allow your caregivers or their skills to become stagnant. Always be on the lookout for training and education for your caregivers. They will be happy to have learned new skills and you will be getting a better caregiver in return.
- Create a team environment – Providing care in a home care setting can be very isolating. Many caregivers work for the same company and never have been to head office or met many of the other caregivers at the company. Typically they are on their own away from their colleagues and office staff. Keep in touch with your caregivers by doing occasional care visits to check on the clients and caregivers. Show support for your caregivers by being there in person, responding quickly to any conflicts, and being there to answer any questions that they have. Remind them constantly of how much you appreciate them and the hard work and sometimes thankless tasks that they do in a day.
- Be Consistent – Do all of the above consistently. Being consistent across the board will ensure consistency with your caregivers. They will know what the expectations are and how supported they are if you are consistent with your actions. As author Gretchen Rubin says “What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”