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Caregivers Are Priceless Assets. Reward Them With Adaptable Scheduling.

Published on October 6, 2021 by Sharon Morrisette

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The sick and vulnerable both need and deserve our support. But ultimately, those who give care need care too.

Treating caregivers as the priceless assets that they are can go a long way towards increasing patient care satisfaction and, most importantly, staff retention rates.

For any care agency, engaging and retaining caregivers is important for many reasons. The most important are:

  • recruiting and hiring new caregivers is costly
  • insufficient staffing can affect referrals and limit business growth potential
  • being short-staffed or having high caregiver turnover can result in inferior care and lower patient satisfaction scores.

Bad scheduling: a significant contributor to high staff turnover

A recent HomeCarePulse Survey (2020-2021) revealed that scheduling – whether a lack of consistency, insufficient hours, excessive travel time, or limited flexibility – ranked among the top 10 complaints caregivers expressed when leaving an agency.

Scheduling is a major part of both recruiting and retaining caregivers. In exchange for their hard work, it’s essential that caregivers feel that their schedule meets both their needs and availability.

Schedule around caregivers’ needs

Schedule around caregivers' needs

While care agencies must schedule clients according to their needs, it’s equally important to keep caregivers’ needs in mind as well.  

The key to good retention begins at the recruitment phase. When creating a job post, be sure to remember that you’re not only competing against other home care agencies for talent but also against senior living communities. In addition to developing more meaningful relationships with clients, one of the main benefits of one-on-one care can be scheduling that is more adaptable to personal needs.

So, be open about your agency’s requirements. Be transparent. Let it be known if you have day or night shifts, short or longer shifts, the areas you operate in… This not only helps applicants to determine if their availability fits with what your agency is looking for, but it also prevents staff turnover that could have been easily avoided.

Remember that circumstances can change

What’s more, it’s important to understand and consistently evaluate your caregivers’ evolving scheduling needs because, of course, circumstances can change. New issues can emerge at any time that could affect their focus and availability. This could be something temporary, such as car issues, or something more delicate such as balancing looking after sick relatives.

Listen to your staff’s availability and scheduling concerns on a regular basis. Understand what’s happening in their lives outside work and how that can affect how they organize themselves. For example, do they have personal issues? Do they have kids to look after? Are they available during the holidays? 

When caregivers change their availability, it can be challenging to backfill their hours and put them on a new schedule that accommodates their requirements. This is why an ongoing exchange of information is so important.

Use an effective scheduling program

Minor scheduling changes made quickly, and communicated clearly, can help keep your staff happy, save them from burnout, and help overall retention. This is where scheduling software can help. 

Naturally, every home care agency will have a wide variety of clients who require different types and levels of service. Smartcare’s unique dynamic scheduling dashboard removes the need to juggle complex software or spreadsheets to cover shifts. 

While it is possible to have several caregivers on rotation to care for a client, a much stronger caregiver-client relationship will develop if you can schedule one consistent caregiver to maximize the human connection.

Smartcare’s robust one-click scheduling enables managers and agency executives to spend less time trying to keep track and more time focusing on driving their business forward, increasing profit.

Train your schedulers

One of the biggest issues leading to caregiver turnover is a lack of clear communication from agencies, especially around schedule changes and updates.

Home care schedulers/coordinators are the primary gatekeepers for any agency and can make or break an agency. They serve as the liaison between your agency, caregivers, clients, and whoever is paying for your services. They schedule and manage the flow of patient care, ensuring that top-quality service is provided consistently.

As the first line of contact, schedulers play a vital role in both client and caregiver satisfaction – which is why it is critical to have proper training in place for them, to guarantee excellent communication across the board.

To further enhance communication between your schedulers and caregivers, Smartcare Voice offers a new function that works with a Google Assistant device or phone app so that schedulers can provide caregivers and patients with real-time information about schedules and services without logging into a computer or app. Clients can check upcoming care schedules and see who is coming, while caregivers can easily keep track of clients and scheduled shifts.

Utilize gamification

Gamification is a technique where game-playing elements are applied to non-gaming activities to motivate employees and significantly improve employee job satisfaction and retention. It can be utilized for numerous purposes in home care, including setting and meeting targets, facilitating onboarding and training, and scheduling.

One innovative way to engage and motivate your caregivers around scheduling processes, especially when your agency may not be able to offer the complete flexibility they desire, is to utilize gamification tools. These can be set up to reward points for filling an open shift, clocking in and out on time, reliable recurring visits, etc.

To find out more about how gamification can benefit your home care agency, read our latest blog here.

For more information about Smartcare scheduling tools and the latest innovative developments in Smartcare software, please visit: smartcaresoftware.com