Hiring an in-home caregiver for the first time is a tough decision for most clients and their families. Once that difficult decision is made, it can still be a highly emotional and potentially overwhelming time as they begin the transition and learn to adapt to the inevitable changes it will bring.
As a home care provider, you will be sympathetic and understand the challenges new clients and their families face when bringing a professional into their personal space at home for the first time.
You will want them to know that they’ve made the right choice, that your home care company can meet their needs and expectations, and that you will support them through the transition.
Here we look at six ways to help new clients and their families transition smoothly into the home care experience – to guarantee a productive, harmonious, and long-term partnership.
1. Determine the care services needed
It’s essential for home care providers to collaborate with a new client and their family on a clear plan when preparing for in-home care services to ensure the experience is as positive, nurturing, and supportive as possible – and that there are no surprises down the line!
Determine their daily challenges, daily living activities, medical conditions, goals, and concerns, so you can identify how best to plan to meet their needs. Home care is most beneficial when the client is open to it, and the best way to achieve this is to include them in these initial planning and decision-making processes.
2. Set clear expectations
Armed with a clear understanding of what the client requires, clearly explain and review the care plan and detail the services you will provide. Be transparent about what your company can provide, scheduling, policies, etc., and clearly outline them in a written contract.
By setting clear expectations from the start, you will show professionalism and instill confidence, so the client and their family can relax knowing they’re in safe hands.
3. Find the best-fit caregiver
Well-matched client-caregiver relationships are known to play a significant role in client satisfaction and retention rates. In addition, they go a long way in helping your new client and their family transition smoothly into the home care experience.
To form long-lasting relationships, home care providers should consider various factors when matching, including personality, physical ability, medical skill, lifestyle habits and interests, scheduling/availability, location, and language/cultural expectations.
While one regular, consistent caregiver is optimal, it’s also a good idea to have a substitute caregiver prepared to step in and cover sick days, time off, etc. Make sure your client and their family are introduced to both caregivers before the first visit.
Using Smartcare’s unique machine learning (ML) technology and matching algorithms, home care providers can identify better matches between caregivers and clients and tailor matching solutions to local market criteria. This all helps to gain the trust of new clients and their families and further cement the caregiver-client bond for successful outcomes.
4. Schedule visits to meet the client’s needs
While staff shortages can make it tricky to guarantee a caregiver is scheduled for visits during a client’s desired hours, you must listen to the client and their family to determine when the care they need will be most helpful. For example, if a client needs help with getting out of bed or showering in the morning, scheduling a caregiver to arrive after lunch is not going to be ideal!
As part of your caregiver-client matching process, it’s important to check caregiver availability matches the client’s needs – and for your schedulers to be on top of this from day one.
Smartcare Software’s user-friendly scheduling dashboard simplifies the scheduling and caregiver planning process. Your schedulers can automate the caregiver notification process, post and manage open shifts with automatic notifications, see the best client-caregiver matches, and minimize costs by using overtime alerts.
During the first few weeks, to guarantee a smooth transition, make sure your schedulers 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 adequate.
5. Make communication a priority
A recent study of home care consumers revealed that in 95% of cases, clients’ satisfaction with home care services was influenced by communication responsiveness from their provider – with just 40% being fully satisfied in this respect.
Most clients and their families want a home care provider that offers real-time communication via smartphone, tablet, or computer. They want immediate access to information about their care plan, speedy responses from their provider on any queries or concerns, and a primary contact they can rely on.
Miscommunication, or lack of communication, leads to dissatisfaction. Therefore, frequent, consistent and effective communication needs to be a priority for home care providers if they want to build and sustain client satisfaction, engagement and retention, especially during the first 30–90 days.
Any technology that makes it easier for members of a client’s circle of care to connect with one another and coordinate care will ultimately improve that client’s quality of care and overall outcomes.
Smartcare’s Family Portal is just one example of how technology can easily improve your agency’s communication across the board. With advanced communication tools, integration with Alexa® and Google Home®, and on-demand mobile notifications and alerts, Smartcare gives your staff, clients, and their families everything they need to stay engaged and connected – anytime and anywhere.
6. Systemize your client onboarding process
Client onboarding is just as crucial as caregiver onboarding for home care providers. Done well, it facilitates the beginning of a productive, engaging, and harmonious partnership and helps new clients and their families transition smoothly into the home care experience.
Having a well-thought-out, repeatable client onboarding process is a crucial business strategy for home care providers and provides the perfect opportunity to:
- build stronger relationships
- set clear expectations and address any concerns
- get your team, clients, and families up to speed
- reduce client churn
- increase efficiency
- reduce scope creep
- increase NET Promoter Score
- guarantee compliance.
Your client onboarding should also offer a welcome package, including training on any tech tools your clients and families will need to use, for example, communication apps.
When signing up new clients, your goal is to ensure that their experience with your home care business and services is a success from day one. The client onboarding process is arguably the most critical stage in the client lifecycle. It sets the tone and lays the foundations for the ongoing relationship your clients will have with you and your home care team.
By starting with a successful, solid base, you can then focus on continued client and family engagement and satisfaction and ultimately reap all the business benefits of loyal and long-term client relationships.