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How Upskilling and Reskilling Caregivers Can Improve Caregiver Engagement and Retention

Published on January 3, 2023 by Sharon Morrisette

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Home care providers of all shapes and sizes have continued to struggle with staff and skills shortages throughout 2022 – partly due to the job market failing to match the rapid rise in demand for home care services.

As we move into 2023, many home care businesses still have a shortfall in caregivers and high turnover rates. Most are struggling to attract enough candidates with the right training to meet their growth needs. There simply aren’t enough people with the right skills to fill all the available roles.

Some home care providers have looked within themselves and made large-scale internal changes in an attempt to beat the competition to attract and retain top-talented caregivers. Strategies include updating their company culture, investing in software to automate many processes, and promoting career and personal growth opportunities amongst staff.

The latter strategy is proving very successful, particularly for those providers making the necessary adjustments to reskill and upskill their caregivers. Skill building is one of the best ways to close the skill gap currently prevalent in the home care labor market – regardless of your staff size or budget.

By taking action now, your home care business will have access to the staff and skills you need to meet your medium- and long-term goals and stay ahead of the competition in 2023.

It requires effort on your part but don’t worry; we are here to help.

What are upskilling and reskilling?

There are significant differences between the terms ‘upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’ in the business world, and it’s essential to set them apart when developing a training program. The key difference lies in the end goal.


caregiver team

Upskilling is the process of teaching employees new or advanced skills and competencies to close talent gaps and optimize their performance in their current roles. 

It helps caregivers to advance along their current career path, strengthen skills, gain new abilities and contribute more productively. It can also be used to create highly specialized caregivers. 

Examples of upskilling include:

  • Training caregivers on how to use any new technology tools, for example, scheduling software or mobile apps for improved communications.
  • Training caregivers in soft skills, like time management and resource management, so that they can carry out existing tasks and responsibilities more effectively – and possibly take on more duties as a result.
  • Training caregivers to be able to deliver specialized care services that may help you grow your business, for example, specialist care for mental health or dementia patients.
  • Training experienced caregivers to offer effective onboarding and mentoring to new (or less experienced) caregivers that join your team.
  • Training staff on any new compliance regulations or company policy changes – to realign their talents with new policies and avoid any breaches.  

Upskilling is all about keeping your caregiver team involved in continuous education and helping them advance in their current role, which will help boost engagement and retention – as well as benefit your business in many other ways. 


team work and caregivers

Reskilling is about training caregivers to adapt to an entirely different role or responsibility within your home care business. This type of training may not be directly related to their current position but can still be valuable to your company’s overall business plan and the caregiver’s personal/career ambitions. 

Examples of reskilling include when a caregiver:

  • shows a particular flair for leadership and can be trained to move into a more managerial role.
  • has proven results in mentoring new hires and is interested in training to join your HR team to run or support onboarding and mentoring programs full-time.
  • requires a less physical job due to changing circumstances and can be retrained to work as, for example, a scheduler. 

Reskilling means teaching new skills to existing caregivers so they can do a different job within your business. It means you get to retain a valued team member who understands your business and has already proven their loyalty and worth – rather than starting from scratch by hiring someone new.

What are the benefits of upskilling and reskilling caregivers?

Identifying all client touch points with your home care agency - Smartcare Software

Upskilling and reskilling are both effective strategies for home care providers to combat what are expected to become persistent staffing and skills shortages.

They can also enable your business to develop skills within your existing workforce to help you remain competitive, adapt quickly to meet future industry demands, and rise to emerging challenges.

Other benefits include:

  • Saves time and money on recruiting and hiring, as you can fill new or existing roles with current caregivers – fostering and promoting employees from within to maximize internal talent. 
  • Reduces turnover. Home care providers that actively invest in their caregivers’ career development see increased engagement and retention. Up to 94% of employees say they would choose to stay with companies that do this.
  • Creates a more robust pool of caregivers and skills to tap into when client-caregiver matching – more adaptable to respond to clients’ and families’ changing needs.
  • Enhances your business reputation – offering continuous training opportunities for caregivers shows you truly value your employees (which can also help attract top talent and increase referrals).
  • Encourages a dynamic business culture, better adapted to the ever-changing home care industry – and keeps your business highly competitive.
  • Increases caregiver engagement, performance, and satisfaction.
  • Improves client and family satisfaction and retention, which brings multiple business benefits in its own right.

How to begin a skill-building program

team discussing data

While many home care providers believe that upskilling and reskilling programs would help them address their staffing and skills shortages, they can be slow to take action. This may be due to financial constraints and/or a lack of suitable technology to support the initiatives. 

However, the long-term benefits show that it is worth putting in the initial time and investment – and it is a pretty straightforward process to get up and running.

  • The first step is to look at your business requirements for the coming year to establish which new positions and skills you’re going to need to remain competitive. 
  • Next, assess your current workforce and their skills so you can work out – based on your medium- and long-term objectives – where there are any gaps. 
  • Identify the areas where you have staffing and skills gaps preventing your growth and expansion. For example, do you want to venture into new markets like specialist Alzheimer’s care, or do you need someone to develop and run an in-house caregiver coaching or mentorship program?
  • Talk with each caregiver to identify their career development goals and identify opportunities where your business needs and their goals meet. Career pathing is a great way to align your caregivers’ career dreams with your home care business objectives – while increasing engagement and retention. As your home care business priorities and caregiver expectations evolve, upskilling and reskilling will become ever more critical.
  • Develop a simple, scalable training strategy for different profiles – who need upskilling and who needs reskilling? You may need to consider a hybrid approach based on caregivers’ expectations, needs, and gaps. Remember to utilize the talent you already have by including mentoring, job shadowing, and coaching – and make the training as easy as possible through digital tools (including gamification), subsidized learning, and paid training hours. 
  • Carry out a continuous assessment of your new training strategy to determine the level of progress and to analyze caregiver participation and satisfaction. 

Better caregiver upskilling and reskilling programs start with the foundational knowledge of where your home care business’s staffing and skills currently stand, where you are heading, and which people within your company are willing and able to make the jump. 

Though external hiring will always be a necessary part of your business, finding ways to bring your existing caregiver team forward with the changing needs of the industry is one of the strongest ways to create engagement and retention within your workforce.

Allowing employees to learn and grow – personally and professionally – is key to optimizing and retaining top talent. Take the time to invest in upskilling and reskilling so that your caregivers stay with you and help your business grow and thrive in 2023 and beyond.

Smartcare software can help you simplify your home care business’s operational functions so that you can focus on caregiver training, upskilling, and reskilling. Call us today to find out more.