Home care schedulers are responsible for making sure care plans are realized as scheduled, delivering an outstanding client/patient experience, and ensuring the needs of both your caregivers and clients/patients are met on a daily basis.
They’re the backbone of your business and play a vital role in the smooth running of daily operations and maintaining your business’s overall health and reputation.
For these reasons, it’s essential to ensure that your schedulers have high satisfaction and engagement in your company and to be aware of any challenges they may be facing so you can quickly find solutions to address them.
Here we look at six common challenges for home care schedulers and how you can overcome them:
1. Time management
Schedulers are the primary gatekeeper for home care providers, tasked with multiple responsibilities from juggling complex scheduling to keeping clients/patients and caregivers happy. Keeping on top of these multiple tasks can be challenging, especially if it isn’t clear which areas are a priority or if they lack adequate support when feeling overwhelmed.
There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day, and there will always be more tasks than can be accomplished within this time limit. However, with the right time management skills, your schedulers can take control, maximize productivity, increase job performance, and lower their stress levels to avoid burnout.
Time management involves skills that can be learned and practiced, and every scheduler can develop these skills. Home care providers can help by providing time management training and creating a company culture where schedulers know they can ask for support when they need it.
Additionally, investing in scheduling software will significantly reduce time pressures on your schedulers – as well as improve company-wide communication and engagement, reduce errors, and save costs.
2. Matching the right caregiver to the right client/patient
Well-matched caregiver-client relationships are crucial for home care providers. They play a vital role in client/patient and caregiver satisfaction, retention rates, increased referrals, and much more. They are fundamental to your business’s success.
However, matching can pose a significant challenge for your schedulers, as they need to have an excellent understanding of what each of your clients/patients needs and what each of your caregivers can provide. In addition to physical and medical requirements, schedulers also need to consider personalities, lifestyle habits, location, language/cultural differences, and availability. This is no mean feat!
To support your schedulers through this challenge, it’s essential to provide training so they can confidently and professionally:
- Read and understand care plans.
- Understand your clients’/patients’ and caregivers’ needs thoroughly.
- Know and comply with rules and regulations (for example, EVV and HIPAA).
- Identify gaps in caregiver experience or knowledge.
- Highlight caregiver upskilling or training opportunities that would improve caregiver-client matches over time.
In addition to providing your schedulers with the right support and training, scheduling software can significantly impact the challenges faced around caregiver-client matching. Being able to input and see all the information in one platform makes caregiver-client matching and scheduling a whole lot easier.
3. Creating schedules based around care plans
To be a great scheduler in any industry requires specific skills, including technical ability, technical literacy, resourcefulness, attention to detail, and excellent communication.
An additional challenge for schedulers working in-home care is that they need to thoroughly understand each client’s care plan and the caregiver knowledge, experience and training necessary to create safe and effective pairings for all parties.
Without this knowledge, caregivers may be sent to clients that they’re not fully prepared or qualified to assist or that they’re overqualified. Clearly, such mismatches need to be avoided to maintain client/patient and caregiver satisfaction and retention – and avoid your schedulers being overwhelmed with grievances and complaints.
As the care plan directly impacts the caregiver-client matching process, it is vital that you support your schedulers with training on how to locate, read, and assess care plans.
If your home care business supports specific diagnoses, such as Alzheimer’s, then training to deepen your schedulers’ understanding of these will also help them to be more confident and effective in their scheduling.
4. Building solid bonds with clients/patients and caregivers
Fostering good relationships with clients/patients and caregivers is an integral part of a scheduler’s job and essential for scheduling success. Taking the time and effort to create close bonds and a feeling of connection directly impacts engagement, satisfaction, and retention for all parties.
However, multiple factors can make this challenging, for example, clients/patients and caregivers being remote and the high turnover of caregivers that many home care providers are still experiencing.
To help overcome these hurdles, it’s vital to not only have a solid caregiver retention plan in place but also to train your schedulers in effective remote communication.
Training should ideally include soft skills as businesses offering soft skills training on topics like communication, time management, and team building are shown to make a 250% Return on Investment (ROI) due to the increase in productivity, engagement, and retention.
Where appropriate, it can also be beneficial to offer your schedulers opportunities to meet clients and caregivers in person, for example, during hiring or onboarding. You should also facilitate frequent, efficient, and timely communication following these initial meet-ups by investing in the right communication tools.
Leading home care providers are already gaining a competitive advantage by using mobile devices and intelligent software, like Smartcare Software, to enhance their care teams’ connection, engagement, and coordination.
5. Dealing with client/patient and caregiver complaints
In an ideal world, your schedulers wouldn’t have to deal with any complaints from your clients/patients or caregivers! However, as in every service industry, complaints are bound to happen occasionally.
For busy schedulers already juggling multiple tasks, the added pressure of handling these complaints can be a challenge and prove frustrating and disheartening.
The first step in overcoming this challenge is to ensure your home care business is proactive rather than reactive. By encouraging regular client/patient and caregiver feedback – through surveys, questionnaires, etc. – you’ll be able to identify any recurring issues and act promptly before they become a major problem.
Being proactive in measuring and monitoring client/patient and caregiver satisfaction will enhance how your business runs and significantly reduce pressure on your schedulers. In addition, it can also help build your reputation and give you a competitive edge.
You can also support your schedulers by hosting regular training sessions in how to handle conflicts, complaints, and concerns effectively, so they can provide a great experience even when faced with a disgruntled client/patient.
6. Lack of appreciation and recognition
This challenge isn’t directly related to your schedulers’ day-to-day tasks, but it is definitely something home care providers need to be aware of.
While most home care businesses are acutely aware of the need to regularly recognize and reward their caregivers – to maintain job satisfaction, engagement, and retention – schedulers are often overlooked in this regard.
A recent survey from US management consultants McKinsey suggests the Great Resignation isn’t going away anytime soon – and that 34% of employees quit their jobs in 2021-2022 due to uncaring/uninspiring bosses.
Don’t let your schedulers become just another statistic!
Your schedulers need the same level of support, recognition, and reward for a job well done as your caregivers. Make sure they feel like valued care team members to avoid losing them to a competitor.
If you aren’t already doing so, you can extend many of your caregiver recognition and reward strategies to your schedulers, including unique benefits, gamification tools, career growth/training opportunities, and the right tools needed to do their jobs well and succeed.
Scheduling is one of the most important contributors to your home care business’s stability and growth. Being aware of your schedulers’ challenges, supporting them, training them, and implementing strategies to relieve any stress points will set them up for success.