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Client-Centered Care Matters: 7 Ways to Put Your Clients’ Needs First

Published on July 18, 2023 by Sharon Morrisette

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As a home care provider, you’ll be well aware of the wide range of clients seeking home care services from all walks of life and with varying needs and personal circumstances. From seniors requiring companionship care or weekly assistance with ADLs to Alzheimer’s patients needing 24-hour supervision, there’s a huge spectrum of care requirements to be met. 

As such, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to home care services.

Client-centered care is a relatively new approach being adopted by many home care providers that involves going that extra mile to be more responsive to the individual preferences, needs, beliefs, and values of each client and their family members. 

Its primary goals are to provide the care that the client needs, in the manner that the client desires, and at the time that best suits the client – in order to support and maintain their rights, self-determination, and autonomy. 

As the name suggests, client-centered care strongly emphasizes the person receiving the care (and those closest to them) being positioned at the very core of all decision-making and being active partners in the planning, delivery, and evaluation of their home care provision.

This approach requires time and effort to build collaborative partnerships between home care providers, caregivers, clients, and clients’ families – that foster trust and establish mutual respect – so they can work harmoniously together to share information, decisions, and planning to achieve the best care outcomes.

In a healthcare setting, being more respectful of individual patient’s preferences and needs – and actively involving patients and their families in decision-making – has proven to be hugely beneficial on many levels, including improved quality of care, enhanced patient safety, increased patient engagement and satisfaction, and improved outcomes. 

These same benefits – and a lot more – apply equally to the home care setting, which is why so many home care providers are changing how they plan and deliver their care services to adopt a more client-centered approach.

If you’re interested in adopting client-centered care, we’ve compiled a list of ways to start putting your clients at the center of your home care services and develop a winning strategy.

Seven ways to implement best-practice client-centered care

1. Lay the foundation during your client onboarding process

For new clients, you can hit the ground running with your client-centered care strategy!

During initial conversations and client onboarding, you can clearly demonstrate the collaborative nature of the relationship you want to build with them, as you discuss their daily challenges, daily living activities, medical conditions, goals, values, preferences, and any concerns. 

Actively listening to and honoring your clients’ perspectives from day one – and encouraging them to ask as many questions as they want – will help your team identify how best to meet their needs and include them in the initial planning and decision-making processes.

Together you can develop a clear plan for their preferred home care services that will ensure the experience is as positive, nurturing, inclusive, and supportive as possible.

It’s important to explain and review the care plan and detail the services you will provide so that everyone can understand and is happy to move forward. Your clients and families should be 100% clear about the services you will provide, including scheduling, limitations, policies, pricing, and so on – and see that you’ve taken their wishes into account.

Working with clients who are aging, managing a chronic illness, disabled, and/or living with a cognitive disorder will likely require regular care plan reviews and adjustments to meet their ever-changing needs – so be sure to communicate this to them for added reassurance. 

2. Master the art of client-caregiver matching

matching clients and caregivers

Having worked closely with your clients and their families to develop their perfect care plan, executing that plan well should now become your key focus.

The first step will be to secure a good match between each client and their caregiver(s). This will help your new client and their family transition more smoothly into their home care journey and positively impact the client experience

Therefore, it’s essential to master your client-caregiver matching, considering medical needs, lifestyle habits, location, language, cultural preferences, interests, personalities, scheduling/availability, skill sets, experience, etc.    

Investing in the right technology tools, like Smartcare’s unique machine-learning technology and matching algorithms, will help you meet each client’s specific needs and preferences and ensure you make the very best matches every time. 

If you can’t find a perfect match, consider investing in upskilling or training options to upgrade your closest matches. If it’s a proximity issue, you may need to consider hiring more caregivers in that area.

Having one regular, consistent caregiver is ideal for building that all-important bond, but it can be beneficial to have a ‘reserve caregiver’ who can step in and cover time off, sick days, etc. Ensure your client and their family are introduced to both caregivers before the first visit and are happy with your selection.

Adopting a client-centered approach to home care means you must regularly review client-caregiver matches, as a client’s needs can change over time and may require adjustments. For example, they may need more hours of care than their current caregiver can provide, require a more skilled caregiver, or move to a new location.

3. Schedule care to meet your clients’ needs and preferences

Scheduling your well-matched caregivers to visit during a client’s desired hours can sometimes be difficult due to staff shortages and other staffing challenges. However, finding a way around this is vital so that care is delivered when the client most needs it. For example, if they need help getting out of bed and bathing in the morning, sending a caregiver after lunch is not going to work – and is certainly not client-centered care!

As part of your caregiver-client matching process, you’ll need to check that caregiver availability matches the client’s scheduling needs and preferences – and make sure your schedulers are on top of this from day one.

Trying to do this manually can prove challenging and be hugely time-consuming, so your best bet is to find a user-friendly scheduling system that will simplify the scheduling and caregiver planning process for you. 

The ideal system should also allow your schedulers to automate the caregiver notification process, post and manage open shifts, minimize missed shifts, and much more – all in real time via a one-stop scheduling dashboard.

As part of your client-centered approach, your schedulers should regularly follow up with clients and their families to check that caregivers are arriving on time, completing all the necessary tasks from the care plan, and that the scheduled hours are sufficient. If you’re using top-quality software, like Smartcare, you won’t need to add this task to your schedulers’ already busy day, as all this information will be automatically recorded in real-time guaranteeing smooth caregiver workflows and compliance.

4. Communicate regularly and effectively with clients and their families

benefits of including family perspectives

Client-centered care means involving your clients and their families in care discussions, care plan reviews, progress reports, schedules, important updates, health education, and much more. To effectively achieve this and ensure continuity of care, you need to facilitate direct access to clear, timely, and accurate information – always keeping the client at the center of all communications.

Any technology that makes it easier for clients and members of their circle of care to find details about their care services, schedules, and payments – and connect with one another and their care team – will ultimately improve the client’s quality of care and overall outcomes. 

Smartcare Software’s Client and Family Portal is just one example of how tech tools can instantly improve your business’s communication across the board. With advanced communication tools and on-demand mobile notifications and alerts, Smartcare gives your caregiver teams, clients, and families everything they need to stay engaged, informed, and connected – anytime and anywhere.

Check out our recent blog if you’d like to find out more about increasing client and family satisfaction through improved communications and leveraging the right technology.

5. Invest in the improvement of care delivery and staff capacity

With client-centered care comes greater client and family input, which allows you to create more tailored, flexible, and effective care plans. You may find yourself providing care options for a greater variety of cultural, spiritual, and personal preferences, accommodating individual schedules and routines, catering to different food options and preferred languages, and so on.

This level of personalization can be quite an ordeal to manage if you don’t have the right tools available and the right staffing levels. 

Capacity management can help to ensure that your business isn’t stretched beyond its limits, allowing you to provide consistently high-quality care and attention to your clients and their families, however diverse their needs. It will also help you identify where additional staff or staff training is needed to fill any skills gaps to support your client-centered care delivery.

In addition, investing in reliable software tools to support your caregiver teams – that streamline your operations, support the management, training, and retention of your top talent, enhance care management, and keep you directly connected with your clients and families – will significantly improve the quality and consistency of the care you deliver.

Feedback from your caregivers and office staff can also prove highly valuable in identifying areas for improving care delivery, processes, company culture, etc. – and will enhance your efforts in building a supportive work environment.

6. Make client-centered care part of your company culture

Some home care providers voice concerns that by putting the clients’ needs and preferences at the center of their care services, their caregiver teams will become disengaged or dissatisfied, resulting in higher turnover rates. They worry that their caregivers will feel that their skills and knowledge are being undermined or that their own needs and preferences will be overlooked.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Although it requires careful planning and follow-through by managers to get your care teams working together towards a more client-centered approach, it can actually attract high-quality talent and significantly increase caregiver engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

The key is to gradually make it part of your home care company culture. Home care providers promoting client-centered care as part of their company culture find that client, family, and staff satisfaction ratings significantly increase along with clients’ health outcomes.

7. Regularly collect feedback on your clients’ care experience to drive improvements

Taking your client and family satisfaction to the next level - Smartcare Software

As you transition to a more client-centered care approach, measuring and monitoring results for ongoing development and improvement is important. 

You can measure client and family satisfaction through regular feedback surveys, questionnaires, team feedback, focus groups, online reviews, or in-app tools. 

For example, Smartcare includes a 360-degree satisfaction tracking system, allowing clients, families, and caregivers to send instant feedback and is easily accessible via Smartcare’s point-of-care Mobile App and Client/Family Portal

Capturing this valuable data in real-time gives you operational insights that will help identify any potential issues or recurring problems, so you can nip them in the bud and make any necessary improvements. Feedback from clients should fuel continual improvement.

It’s important to act promptly on any feedback you receive to demonstrate that your home care business is committed to delivering what your clients and families want and that they can trust you to listen to their needs. 

Smartcare to the rescue!

While it is possible to implement many of these client-centered care strategies without the support of innovative tech tools, it is infinitely easier and more cost- and time-effective to invest in home care software that will do much of the heavy lifting for you and your teams.

Smartcare’s complete software platform and EMR has all the tools you need to transform your home care business – and excel at client-centered care – whether you’re providing personal care services to your senior living community residentsrunning a large home care agency, or managing multiple franchise sites – and everything in between! 

We hope the ideas suggested in this article have provided some food for thought and helped you identify practical steps your home care business can take toward adopting a more client-centered approach – to reap the many rewards that can bring.

If you’d like to know more about the Smartcare Software tools mentioned throughout this article, please call our dedicated team or request a demo today.

We are here and ready to help your home care business take action and thrive.