Senior living companies increasingly are adding home care services to their array of offerings, and to expand the continuum of care.
But hiring and training for home health care strays in some ways from hiring for senior living, as the care delivery and business models are traditionally different from care provided within a community’s walls.
Recent research shows that specific training practices can help cut down on one issue that has long plagued the home healthcare industry: turnover.
Ongoing training programs for employees to advance their skills can reduce that costly turnover, said Sharon Brothers, founder and CEO of the Institute for Professional Care Education, during the recent Home Care Pulse Vantage Online Leadership Summit.
“Training gives [employees] the opportunity to get better at what they do,” Brothers said, noting that many employees want to take pride in honing a special skill, such as specializing in dementia care.
Despite home health care being among the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S., turnover for home health and personal care aides is around 40% to 65% each year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
And some specialized providers are having to cut home care services due to turnover challenges.
“We think turnover is one of the most important things you can look at,” Brothers said.
A five-year study conducted on a control group of caregivers who were not offered advanced training and another group who were found that training led to a 16.4% percent lower turnover rate, Brothers said, adding that those agencies that implemented training also grew two times faster than those in the control group.
Ongoing training not only helps to retain employees, but is also a boon for business.
Driving new referrals
Client-focused training can help increase referrals, Brothers said.
For caregivers who are working with a client for the first time, letting that individual or his or her family members know that you’ve had training and understand the specific needs of that person reflects well on the agency.
“Every time my mom’s caregiver couldn’t come I used to just go there myself,” Brothers said a client’s daughter once told her. “With this new training program I can breathe easy knowing that everyone caring for my mom is trained to her specific care needs.”
“So, if you can say, ‘We have a training program so if your caregiver calls off we’ve got somebody trained who can come in and you don’t have to worry about it,’ you’ve set yourself a part from the competition.”
In addition, asking clients and their famiies what they think should be included in training programming helps to strengthen the relationship between the client and agency.
“Getting customers involved with training plans can change the customer experience and get [the agency] referrals,” she said. “It’s unique.”
Attract Qualified Candidates
Training opportunities not only help to reduce turnover, but it also helps attract qualified candidates.
Eighty-five percent of caregivers want more paid training opportunities and 71% of caregivers say they must be learning to stay with a company source, she said, citing a 2014 MyCNAJobs survey.
“Set career ladders in training,” she said. “Whether it’s building more speciality skills as a caregiver, being a mentor or moving up into the nursing field. It helps caregivers visualize professional growth opportunities.”
Allowing employees more flexibly with their schedules can also help retain qualified workers, and help them to feel like a valuable member of the team.
If someone can only work three days a week because they have to care for that family, but are passionate about the field, then it’s worth only having them work when they can, she said.
Overall, “increased training increases confidence in care,” she said.
Written by Cassandra Dowell