The latest annual Benchmarking Study from Home Care Pulse reveals that the caregiver turnover rate for 2020 was 65.2% compared to the 2019 rate of 64.3%.
Another Home Care Benchmarking Study revealed that over 57% of these caregivers leave an agency in the first 90 days of their employment. Many of them report leaving due to a lack of adequate support from their agency – the top two complaints being a lack of communication and a lack of training.
One powerful solution to help your home care agency address both problems is implementing a caregiver mentoring program for new caregivers for the first 60-90 days of their employment. Caregiver mentoring has been shown to significantly improve caregiver retention and offers a wide range of additional benefits to your agency.
What is a caregiver mentoring program?
A caregiver mentoring program involves matching your new hires with more experienced caregivers who will look after them from day one. They can answer any questions, attend home visits, and provide whatever support and training new caregivers need to ensure success in their new roles.
Mentorship programs ensure new caregivers are focused, build confidence, develop necessary skills, and are motivated and productive from day one. For the best results, new caregivers should be assigned a caregiver mentor for (at least) their first 90 days of employment.
Depending on your agency’s needs, programs can take many forms, but all involve three levels: new caregivers, caregiver mentors, and mentor leads.
Using SMARTcare’s embedded personality style matching tools, you can easily identify suitable matches between caregivers and mentors to ensure they form long-lasting positive relationships.
What are the benefits of caregiver mentoring programs?
Investing a little time and energy to set up a caregiver mentoring program will improve your caregiver retention rate, offering powerful benefits to both your caregivers and your agency. These benefits include:
1. Connects new caregivers to your home care agency
Caregiver mentors play a vital role in connecting new hires to your home care agency.
Being assigned a peer mentor from day one helps new caregivers feel supported and gives them a sense of belonging. This is particularly important during the first 90 days of employment when it can generate a strong feeling of unity and connection within your agency.
Through the support of regular in-home visits, weekly phone calls and texts, and on-the-job training, a mentoring program demonstrates that your agency is prioritizing new caregivers’ success – which leads to them feeling valued, having greater job satisfaction, and developing loyalty.
Additionally, the new caregiver and their mentor will build a personal relationship over time that will play a substantial role in creating a positive, team-centered culture, which helps all your caregivers feel more connected to your agency.
2. Breaks the isolation of working alone
Caregiver roles naturally involve working alone in client/patient homes. For newly hired caregivers, this can be isolating and quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed.
Having a peer mentor helps promote a sense of belonging to a team and provides personal guidance and support whenever doubts, questions, or concerns arise.
Having a trusting and supportive relationship/friendship is a huge benefit when navigating daily stressors and breaks the isolation of working alone by providing an outlet for socializing and networking.
Regular contact with a more experienced caregiver will support new hire caregivers’ confidence and job satisfaction, ultimately impacting client/patient satisfaction.
3. Creates strong professional skills and delivers better care outcomes
Successful home care agencies know that providing new caregivers with a ton of information on their first day and sending them out unsupervised and unsupported to their first clients/patients is not optimal onboarding.
Caregiver mentoring programs offer new hires personal guidance and knowledge from those who understand the specific challenges that caregivers face. The knowledge and experience peer mentors can provide are invaluable, motivating and inspiring.
Peer mentors overseeing your new caregivers can ensure they have all the necessary skills and knowledge to do their job well. Working together, they can identify any gaps, establish a list of training needs, and supply many training requirements through direct, on-the-job training.
This leads to highly trained, confident and accountable caregivers, a much higher quality of care for your clients, and offers growth opportunities for both caregivers.
Talented caregivers want training and are proven to be more loyal and stay longer with the agencies that provide it.
4. Acts as a great recruitment tool
With talented caregivers having their pick of jobs at the moment, home care agencies need to create as many benefits as possible to stand out from the crowd and attract the best.
Having a caregiver mentoring program can be a powerful way to demonstrate that you care about your caregivers and an excellent way to advertise that your agency provides on-the-job support, training and development opportunities.
These are all things that attract better caregivers who are motivated to learn and grow.
When you are recruiting and hiring new caregivers, you must start working to retain them from day one – and a mentoring program will substantially help with that.
A retention tool that also helps with recruitment = a win-win strategy.
5. Decreases early job turnover by providing increased support
Having a mentoring program in place demonstrates your agency’s commitment to your employees’ professional development and guarantees caregivers will develop a sense of loyalty because they know you are prepared to invest in them.
Research shows that implementing a mentoring program can lead to:
- higher job satisfaction
- increased employee engagement and retention
- commitment to an agency
- decreased turnover
- better performance/outcomes
- greater client/patient satisfaction.
In addition, your mentors act as a valuable early detection system for caregivers who are struggling or lacking motivation. They can pick up on any difficulties being experienced by new employees and offer support before any thoughts of leaving your agency develop.
6. Increases experienced caregiver retention by providing oportunities for advancement
A caregiver mentoring program not only gives much-needed support to your new caregivers but also provides a career ladder for your more experienced employees. By providing ongoing leadership training to groups of mentors to help them more effectively support their caregivers, you are offering valuable opportunities for them to advance and enhance their skills and employability.
You may need to consider a wage increase and other benefits to compensate caregiver mentors and mentor leads for the extra work involved. However, a well-implemented program will save you thousands of dollars in the long-term on turnover costs alone.
Remember to recognize and reward everyone involved in the process when each new caregiver graduates from their mentoring program.
A well-implemented mentoring program will help your new caregivers in their roles, increase job satisfaction, reduce turnover, deliver higher-quality care to clients, increase experienced caregiver retention, and ultimately contribute to taking your agency to the next level.
The purpose of any caregiver mentoring program is to address the specific needs of new caregivers to help with retention. Therefore, you should continue to experiment and adjust your program over time based on your agency’s particular needs and circumstances.
The cost of caregiver turnover is high and dealing with turnover requires a great deal of time and effort that operators could be spending on more important activities. Managing and supporting your new hires right from the start with a mentoring program is a significant first step to boosting caregiver retention and improving your client/patient satisfaction.