Nearly 80% of adults aged 50 and older want to stay in their home long term as they age, according to research from AARP. This is an important “quality of life” decision, but aging-in-place isn’t as simple as checking a box on a form. It will ultimately require substantial changes within the healthcare community and, of course, an army of qualified in-home caregivers.
One problem: we’re in the middle of a historical caregiver shortage and, according to projections from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of openings for home health and personal care aides will increase nearly 37% by 2028.
How will your home health business survive and thrive in this difficult environment? Consider the tactics I’ve called out below to help you place a heightened focus on:
Show thanks and support to improve retention
Fair pay is an obvious place to start. Caregiving is hard work. Now more than ever, it’s important that your employees feel both appreciated and properly compensated for their effort and emotional investment.
Beyond compensation, how you show that appreciation can take a variety of forms. Consider the impact of a purposefully curated care kit.
We recently deployed our own end-to-end care kit solution to help a large managed care organization make a positive impact on its members. Each kit included a customized box, letter to the member, and branded promotional items that were not only related to its theme but also helpful in their daily lives. (You can read the case study here.)
Whether to say thanks, onboard new staff, provide on-the-job support (e.g., PPE, health assessment forms, digital thermometers), or all of the above, care kits exhibit advocacy as well as a commitment to your caregivers and their patients. They also provide healthcare organizations a unique and unexpected touchpoint designed to foster relationships.
Drive recruitment efforts with proven resources
In the current marketplace, finding the right talent is so much more than just posting job opportunities to one or two online career boards. To increase the effectiveness of caregiver recruiting, consider these three tips:
- Use available data to heighten targeting. Your first-party data — the data you own — can provide valuable insights into how caregivers (and patients) interact with your organization, their preferences, their location, etc. And because it’s longitudinal, it can show how behaviors change over time. Pair this with third-party lead lists and you’ll gain an even more holistic view of your target audience. From there, email and/or direct mail campaigns can become richer with personalized content, which is something 71% of us expect from the brands and businesses we choose to interact with, according to McKinsey.
- Leverage external, end-to-end support to maintain your momentum. A qualified and proven partner can mine available data, create ideal caregiver profiles, develop the best copy and content, and identify the optimal delivery mode to reach your best candidates. They exist and working with one makes a lot of sense if your organization is looking to grow.
- Network on a larger scale. The caregiver community is tight-knit. Use this to your advantage by forming relationships within the industry. Contacts in your local community, healthcare systems, nursing networks, and associations may be able to identify talent or build relationships with facilities that could refer talent your way. Take the time to know your options, because you have plenty. Check out this exhaustive list to see what I mean.
Pay attention to your reputation
Whether as a way to attract new talent or instill pride and confidence in your current staff, a solid brand reputation is crucial for caregiver recruitment and retention. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for protecting your business from the hazards of a labor shortage.
In a tough economy, other industries may choose layoffs for solvency. In home health, that’s not an option. The heroes who serve your patients are at the heart of everything you do. To ensure your brand’s reputation is working for you rather than against, keep these two tactics in mind:
- Ensure brand identity is consistent across multiple touchpoints. Every touchstone of your business (e.g., logo, packaging, websites, promotional items) should clearly define who you are and what sets you apart. It’s essential these elements share a common look no matter where you see it. This consistency improves brand recall and illustrates a higher level of professionalism and credibility.
- Prioritize surveys and your Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Effectively executed surveys can help healthcare providers share real-world feedback with their in-home caregivers, empowering them to address unmet needs and make meaningful adjustments to the patient experience. Surveys can also go a long way in improving your ratings connected to the Home Health Care CAHPS Survey (HHCAHPS), which is designed to measure the experiences of people receiving home health care from Medicare-certified home health agencies.
The takeaway: valued caregivers improve the patient experience
Research reveals 80% of home health professionals cite staffing as the largest non-COVID-related challenge they’ll face in the year ahead. Pair that statistic with the nearly 75% of the providers planning to pursue an additional home health care model or service for the first time this year and the battle for skilled caregivers is likely to become even more challenging.
In the end, the growth and success of your home health business weighs heavily on these in-home essential workers. They are the center of your operation. By prioritizing how you show them thanks, support, pride, and guidance, you will be taking the necessary steps to realizing unmatched customer loyalty, higher sales revenue, and a solid brand reputation.
Cindy Thomas is the Director of Payer Business Development within RRD’s Healthcare Solutions group.