The latest Home Care Pulse Benchmarking Report reveals that the demand for home- and community-based care services (HCBS) has continued to increase throughout 2023.
It also reports that caregiver turnover spiked to 77.1% in the same period, meaning many home care providers are struggling to make the most of this time rich with opportunities for business expansion and growth.
Attracting and retaining top caregiver talent clearly remains a tough nut to crack and has resulted in many businesses having to turn clients away, or suffer losing clients, due to staffing shortages or skills gaps – significantly impacting their ability to grow.
However, many home care providers have overcome this seemingly insurmountable problem and are beating the competition to take their business to the next level. So, what’s the secret to their success?
Firstly, they’ve made technology part of their retention strategy, using innovative tools to keep their caregivers connected, engaged, and highly satisfied. Software like Smartcare, which has loyalty tools embedded, can markedly reduce caregiver turnover by simplifying care management and task recording, improving communications, enhancing client-caregiver matching, leveraging gamification for consistent recognition and reward, and much more.
”We are really pleased to have found Smartcare to help us achieve caregiver retention rates that are over 3x as good as other agencies we compete against in our market. Smartcare engagement tools and secure chatting lets us maintain a connection with our remote teams. I don’t know what I would do without Smartcare.”Adalynn T.
Secondly, these home care providers have come to realize the high value of providing professional training and development in their bid to attract and retain top talent. As a result, they’ve developed training programs that offer appealing personal and career growth opportunities for their caregivers and back-office staff and are reaping multiple rewards for their efforts.
Research has shown that professional training programs not only boost retention but also produce the highest return on investment (ROI) and cost the least in the long run. Studies also highlight that businesses investing in employee training are 27% more likely to be cost-efficient and 59% more likely to grow.
In this article, we share 12 ways that professional training and development – an often underutilized lever for attracting and retaining top-quality staff – can significantly benefit your caregivers and clients, ultimately helping to take your home care business to the next level.
First, let’s take a quick look at what professional training and development look like in a home care setting.
What is professional training and development?
Professional training and development is the ongoing education of employees to help them grow their skill set, equip them with relevant knowledge, stay abreast of advancements in care practices and technology, develop professional competence, and further their careers.
Within the home care setting, this is not limited to gaining new technical skills but includes working on a variety of soft skills, too, like effective communication, time management, teamwork, critical thinking, and leadership. These ‘people skills’ are essential tools in an industry built on solid relationships between caregivers, clients, families, office staff, and referral partners.
There are many paths you can follow to boost professional development within your teams. A combination of these activities is shown to deliver the best results:
- Coaching and mentoring – one-to-one conversations with a more experienced employee that offer guidance, support, and feedback to improve skills, performance, and development.
- On-the-job training – learning that is facilitated during daily work activities.
- Job shadowing – often used during onboarding, where new hires can observe and train with a more experienced employee to develop new skills or gain new perspectives.
- Team-building activities – typically one-day events that include activities designed to improve communication, build relationships, and foster collaboration between team members.
- Workshops – one-time events that offer in-depth training on specific skills or relevant topics – and can include introducing new technology.
- Conferences – multi-day events that usually feature keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.
- Online courses – programs or classes that can be completed remotely via the internet, at the employee’s own pace.
- Certifications – formal credentials, for example, a CAN or HHA certification, demonstrating expertise in a particular skill, set of skills, or care practice.
How professional training benefits your caregivers
Over 80% of job seekers report that they consider a potential employer’s professional development program before applying for an open position. This means that home care businesses looking to attract new key team members, to build a robust and resilient caregiver team, must include (and promote) ongoing training opportunities and career paths.
Whether you opt for traditional training, digital resources, or a combination of both, you will soon see a cumulative effect on every aspect of your business, from increased productivity and profitability to higher client satisfaction scores and reduced turnover.
Business benefits aside, how does professional training directly impact your caregiver team?
1. Empowers caregivers and builds independence
Many caregivers, particularly those just starting out in the profession, report feeling inexperienced and/or unconfident when they first join a new home care provider. This is especially true when the onboarding is weak and they aren’t given adequate initial support. They often feel like they’ve been thrown in at the deep end. This can lead to anxiety, chronic stress, and burnout if left unaddressed – eventually resulting in yet another resignation letter.
However, having the opportunity from day one to develop specific skills and knowledge, close any skill gaps, and have access to a mentor, gives every caregiver the capability to shine and excel in their roles. It boosts your caregivers’ confidence, empowers them, and builds independence. This reduces the need for costly micromanagement, giving your caregivers the autonomy they desire as they go about their daily tasks, delivering the very best care services to your clients.
2. Guarantees high engagement, motivation, and job satisfaction
Ongoing training and development are shown, across all industries, to keep employees engaged with their work. Engaged caregivers are happy and productive and feel more connected, motivated, and enthusiastic about the work they do.
Rather than feeling like they are stagnating in the same daily routine, day in, day out – leading to disengagement and disillusionment – caregivers who regularly learn new skills and knowledge are highly engaged. They can take on extra challenges, continue to improve their performance, realize their career dreams, and get excited by opportunities to advance within your business.
This, in turn, delivers high job satisfaction and develops a deeper sense of loyalty and commitment to an employer, as caregivers can see that their employer genuinely cares about their growth and success.
3. Boosts morale across the whole team
Having ongoing professional training opportunities not only increases individual caregiver’s engagement and job satisfaction but also boosts morale across your entire team. It signals a positive work environment, promotes a culture of care, and ensures all your caregivers feel valued and supported in the work they do for you.
Including mentorship programs, caregiver coaching, and other peer-related upskilling and reskilling options can aid further collaboration and cooperation between team members, enrich team communication and connection, and nurture a real sense of belonging.
4. Ensures compliance
With staff shortages and skills gaps being an ongoing issue for many home care providers, caregivers may occasionally have to cover shifts where they are required to carry out a task they are not fully qualified to do. For example, lifting a client, performing basic health checks (like blood pressure or taking a client’s temperature), administering or managing medication, etc.
However, caregivers that work for home care providers that deliver ongoing training opportunities will never be put in this compromising position. Not only do these providers have a wider pool of talent to select from, but that talent pool will also have a broader skill set. This will include employees with the correct certifications to ensure compliance across all aspects of care.
In addition, being correctly trained on operational procedures and processes, current regulations, and any new technology means caregivers can be confident in avoiding any inadvertent violations or compliance issues.
5. Offers equal opportunities
Caregivers come from various backgrounds, each with different demands on their time and money. For many, particularly those from underrepresented groups, this can mean having less access to training and development programs, for example, due to a lack of funds or free time to study independently.
Home care providers that deliver professional training remove roadblocks to career advancement that many caregivers would otherwise face and eliminate unfair advantages between employees. A more equitable workplace means all caregivers can access the training and development resources they need, free of charge and (ideally) during paid working hours.
6. Provides extra job security and stability
Being supported in their desire to learn better care practices and how to deal with each client’s specific needs, caregivers will naturally increase their alignment with your company goals and feel safe in the knowledge that your business is genuinely invested in their future.
From your caregivers’ point of view, building skills and expertise to succeed in their roles (and developing additional skills in specialized care areas) makes them feel more valued and indispensable, providing a sense of greater job security.
Job security and stability reduce caregiver stress, promote a positive work environment, increase productivity, and reduce turnover.
How professional training benefits your clients and their families
A caregiver team with ongoing access to professional training and development will, without question, deliver a higher quality of care that directly impacts your clients and their families in multiple ways.
Key benefits for your clients and their families include:
7. Significantly improves the quality of care
The more knowledge, skills, and experience your caregivers acquire, the higher their productivity, performance, and efficiency.
Well-trained, confident caregivers work better, are better organized, and exude competence. They will also deliver a consistently higher quality of care that benefits both your clients and their families and builds valuable trust.
8. Provides consistency of care services
As ongoing training and development opportunities are shown to reduce turnover significantly, your clients can be guaranteed the same caregiver(s) for consistency of care for the long term. They will not be affected by high staff turnover.
Consistency of care means your clients can develop deeper bonds with their assigned caregiver(s), which provides a reliable source of emotional support and companionship. This can be life-changing for those dealing with loneliness, grief, chronic illness, or simply wanting more satisfying social interaction.
In addition, if a client’s needs change over time – for example, due to developing dementia – home care providers can easily provide extra training for their regular caregiver(s) to meet those growing needs and minimize disruption to the client’s regular routine.
9. Increases client safety
Adequate training across a range of areas, including lifting, wheelchair use, fall prevention, medication management, recognizing changes in health, specialized dementia care, etc., all go towards increasing your clients’ safety and improving health outcomes.
This will lower hospital (re)admission rates and/or emergency call-outs, which will give peace of mind to your clients and their family members (as well as improve your brand reputation among referral partners).
10. Enhances the client-caregiver relationship
Good relationships between clients and their caregivers play a vital role in client/patient engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
It’s especially important to build bonds when it comes to medication management, communication with family members, and recognizing changes in behaviors or health – not to mention the many advantages seniors experience through well-matched companionship care.
Through professional training and development, your business will have a broader range of caregiver skills and abilities to be able to make better matches with each clients’ specific needs, including physical, medical, and personal needs – boosting engagement and satisfaction.
11. Generates greater trust and confidence
A well-trained, assured, motivated team will deliver a much higher, standardized level of care to your clients and their families (training should include your office team) and guarantee productive, harmonious, and long-term partnerships.
Quality training equates to enhanced adherence to care plans, improved efficiency in carrying out those plans, and higher engagement from all parties, which builds trust and confidence for your clients and their families over time.
Family members that live away from their loved ones, in particular, need to feel this level of trust in the care being provided and to feel as involved as possible.
12. Improves mental, emotional, and physical health outcomes
Senior clients receiving home care from well-trained caregivers enjoy improved health outcomes through reduced social isolation, improved nutrition and hygiene, increased mobility and engagement in activities and hobbies, supported independence, fall prevention strategies, medication management, and more.
A recent study into the effectiveness of caregiver training on the cognitive and functional status of senior clients/patients showed that those cared for by caregivers who participated in training programs showed gains in quality of life, cognitive ability, and maintenance of functional ability.
How Smartcare Software can help
Over time, it is clear to see that investing in professional training is not only a powerful tool for caregiver and client recruitment and retention but also an effective marketing tool to help your business grow and thrive in a highly competitive market.
However, there can be challenges to implementation, including lack of resources, funding, knowledgeable people to deliver the training, and the time required to get started.
With Smartcare’s digital solutions, these barriers are removed.
Smartcare’s cloud-based, all-in-one platform for home care now includes intergrated training options through partnerships with Nevvon and CareAcademy. This makes it easier than ever to provide tailored education, training, and skills-building for your care teams – with direct access from the platform.
You might also find it helpful to read some of our recent blogs on professional training and development, including:
- How to start investing in caregiver training and development, and build an effective training program.
- How upskilling and reskilling can improve caregiver engagement and retention.
- The benefits of developing caregiver mentoring programs.
- Tips for in-house caregiver coaching to empower your home care team.
- How to help your caregivers to set and achieve SMART goals.
- Creating caregiver career paths to boost recruitment and retention.