Strong client-caregiver relationships provide the foundation for client-centric home care models and play a significant role in client and caregiver engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
Additional benefits to home care providers include the delivery of higher quality care, better relationships with clients’ family members, increased referrals, more efficient back-office staff, and overall business growth and success.
While much of the responsibility lies with caregivers to establish good relationships with their clients, there are plenty of ways that leaders of home care businesses can support – and even accelerate – the process.
1. Improve your client-caregiver matching
Every client and caregiver relationship is unique, and it can be challenging for home care providers to find and match the right pairings that will blossom into successful, strong connections.
While it is obviously important to consider the caregiver’s professional experience and qualifications when matching them with a client, it is also vital to look at other factors that can significantly affect whether they’ll be able to form that all-important personal bond, including:
- Lifestyle characteristics and experiences
- Hobbies and interests
- Language and culture
- The home environment (including pets, family members, smoking, etc.).
Client-caregiver matching is essential to get right if you want to see your home care business succeed and grow, but it can take a lot of time and effort to master. Fortunately, software tools, like Smartcare Software, are available to help businesses improve their client-caregiver matching and find the perfect pairing every time.
2. Be sure that care requirements are well defined
One key factor in facilitating stronger client-caregiver connections is ensuring that the client’s (and their families’) expectations are crystal clear from the start.
It’s essential to ask your clients and families to articulate precisely what they expect from the caregiver assigned and that the caregiver has the opportunity to ask questions to clarify their role and responsibilities before they begin. In addition to a list of specific tasks, the client should also explain exactly how they’d like these tasks to be performed.
Relationships can easily break down when expectations aren’t being met (on either side), often resulting from misunderstandings or poor communication and creating tension or frustration.
As the client-caregiver relationship develops and trust is built, it will be much easier for them to resolve any misunderstandings between them. However, at the very beginning, it is vital that the home care provider takes charge and ensures all care requirements are nailed down and in writing so there can be no confusion.
3. Schedule one consistent caregiver for each client
To help strong client-caregiver bonds to develop and grow, home care providers should try to schedule one consistent caregiver for each client. If a client has multiple caregivers throughout a week, it will be more difficult for them to feel connected or to become attached to anyone in particular (including your home care business).
Where one caregiver can’t cover all the service requirements, you should look to match two caregivers that are a good fit with the client. In this way, your client will have one key caregiver, plus ‘a spare’ that can cover holidays, sick leave, or any extra shifts required.
Scheduling software solutions can help with managing clients’ care requirements with caregivers’ hours of work available and any rotations or extra shift coverage needed.
4. Facilitate clear and open communication
All relationships benefit from clear and open communication, and the client-caregiver relationship is no exception. It encourages respect and trust to grow. This becomes especially important when a client doesn’t have a close bond with family members or other healthcare providers, as it may be the only open line of communication they have to share their health or other concerns.
Home care providers can support healthy two-way communication by providing the tools necessary to effectively establish an interpersonal connection between clients and caregivers. For example, investing in Smartcare’s user-specific mobile point-of-care app will give each caregiver a unique, easy-to-use connection with their clients, clients’ families, and your business.
Using chat, messaging, and family portal communication tools – that are HIPAA compliant – management burden shifts from the caregiver to technology, enabling them to spend more time focused on their clients and strengthening those all-important bonds.
5. Build working relationships with your clients’ family members
With patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) increasing in popularity, many home care providers are choosing to actively involve clients’ family members, which is shown to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.
For many families, hiring a caregiver to care for their loved ones can initially make them feel vulnerable or anxious, often resulting in tension and stress for all involved. Building healthy, trust-based relationships with clients’ family members reassures them that they’ve made the right choice and can help to protect the client-caregiver bond from any external tensions in its early stages of development.
To effectively participate in a loved one’s care – without interfering in the client-caregiver relationship – families need to receive clear, timely, complete, and accurate information. Investing in a family portal is an excellent way for home care providers to coordinate care services, engage family members, and strengthen caregiver, client, and family connections across the business.
6. Set up regular check-ins with your caregivers and clients
Once you’ve set up a great client-caregiver match and they’ve been working together for a while, it is essential to help them successfully maintain that relationship.
It’s not only beneficial for caregivers and clients to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships, but is also in a home care business’s best interests – as it will boost engagement, satisfaction, and retention on both sides.
The best way to help maintain these relationships is to set up regular check-ins with caregivers and clients, to gather feedback about their overall satisfaction, and address any issues or concerns before they escalate. Where appropriate, this process should also include clients’ family members.
Home care providers using client engagement tools, like Smartcare’s Family Portal, are already ahead of the game. Their clients and family members can send instant feedback via a mobile app, rating their experience of shifts, caregivers, agency performance, and more. This provides valuable information to help home care providers further strengthen their client-caregiver connections.
7. Provide training opportunities to address any skills gaps
As a home care provider, you know to never send your caregivers into a situation unprepared or without the necessary skills required. This not only puts immense pressure on a caregiver but also causes the client to lose confidence – resulting in frustration, confusion, and disappointment for them both. Situations like this can severely damage the client-caregiver relationship – and your business reputation – and need to be avoided at all costs.
To help build stronger client-caregiver relationships, and reap all the business benefits they bring, you must provide ongoing training for all your caregivers, including on-the-job upskilling with a mentor. This guarantees that your clients and their families know they are always in safe, capable hands, and your caregivers know they can deliver the required care correctly and confidently.
It’s in every home care business’s best interest to create, support, and maintain long-term relationships between their clients and caregivers, and it’s well worth investing in the right tools to get it right.
If you’d like more information about any software solutions mentioned here, please contact us or request a free demo. A member of our team will be happy to discuss how Smartcare Software can benefit your organization.