The Backbone of Your Agency is Not Your Client

 

OK…that’s extreme but hear me out. Many home care owners enter this industry often because they have a personal story of their own of caring for a loved one which makes such a great impact that they then feel compelled to “make a difference.” Which is wonderful. As we all know our senior population is growing in significant numbers and care is needed more now than ever before and the need will continue to grow.

Often the owners have a mindset that the clients are the backbone of the company because obviously without clients you really don’t have a company right? Wrong. There are more than enough elderly who need assistance out there for home care agencies to service and the need for care is not going anywhere. So the opportunity for business is plentifully especially if you are an agency “doing it right.” So, then what is the back bone of your agency then? Stay with me here…your care providers are! They are without a doubt the backbone of your agency.

Your care providers are the individuals actually providing the care to your clients. They are in the private homes of these client doing the best they absolutely can with the challenging task of taking care of another human being for in some cases many hours a day. The stress related with the care needs of our elderly can be serious and should never be ignored. These issues may include stressisolation, and fatigue, to name a few. It can be rewarding to care for our elderly, but it can also be stressful, traumatic, or otherwise difficult. I found while operating my agency the caregivers want 5 things from their employer which are as follows:

  1. Training: Alot of on-going training! Caregivers get frustrated, being unable to or uncomfortable performing certain tasks a client expects them to do and consequently having to deal with a disappointed client. Training your caregivers how to perform job-related tasks empowers them. It will help them take better care of your clients. It also shows them that you care about them and about your clients overall satisfaction. As a result of caregiver training, you will be able to send prepared, confident caregivers into your clients’ homes, resulting in more satisfied, happy clients.
  2. Emotional Support: Stress is a a huge factor for some Care Providers. They are our working poor. They have families to support and economic challenges everyday while going out and looking after our elderly, (your clients) for their safety and well being and doing their very best to provide the best quality of life to that individual as possible. They often times find themselves in the emotional role of careing for your client as a family member would. They are managing your clients life in most cases with daughters, sons, spouses, physical illness, mental illness, dementia issues, etc. They need us to understand as owners we “have their backs.” They need us to support them in any way possible to ensure their mental health and well being is being cared for as well. They deserve to work in an environment where they can come to their employer at anytime for any reason and feel totally supported. They may need time off, they may need to discuss increase in pay because they are concerned about feeding their kids. Listen to them and be there.
  3. Recognition: Your care staff want to be recognized for doing well with their job. I don’t mean they need to receive constant praise however, they do need positive reinforcement and encouragement. This is empowering to them and allows them to have respect for themselves, their job and you as their employer. There are several ways to recognize your caregiver such as: increases, quarterly bonuses, gift certificates, appreciation awards, spontaneous “thank you” lunches in your office for all staff, and this one goes a long way… pick up the phone to thank them for doing an amazing job with Mrs. Smith who is now able to eat better because your caregiver is preparing delicious meals, to name a few. Be creative, you are building and nurturing a relationship with your staff. It is an important area of your business to invest time and money.
  4. Treated fairly: When issues arise hear your care staff out. Get the whole story of what happened. again LISTEN to them. The client is not always right. Your care staff is doing the best they can and deserve to be treated fairly especially when there is an issue. Often times they may not get along with one another while working with the same client. You may need to make schedule changes to alleviate problems, whatever the case may be always treat them fairly and never with a bias in a situation.
  5. Be respected: Your care staff deserve to be treated with respect. Most only have a high school education, some are from other countries, some care providers have a hard time reading and writing whatever the case may be always treat your care staff with the utmost respect. They are doing a job that requires great patience, understanding, and strong character. It is not a well paid job and it is less than glamorous. Look them in the eye when you speak with them. Listen to them. Be there for them. Never talk down to them or about them to anyone.

The point is, if your staff is happy and supported your clients will receive the best care possible. Happy employees translates to happy clients. With a genuine shift in mindset on just how important your care staff really are you can change the entire culture of your agency. You will no longer be putting out fires…you will be preventing them.

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