November is National Home Care & Hospice Month, and CareAcademy honors the contributions of direct care workers (DCWs) and the value they bring to their clients and families. These heroic caregivers play a central role in our healthcare system and in homes across the nation.
Caregivers need more than just financial resources to be successful at work. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
According to recent financial statistics, one in six caregivers is living in poverty. Traditionally, poverty has only been looked at through the lens of financial well-being or lack thereof.
Well-being covers many areas of life. It’s important to not use one single factor to classify your employees’ well-being. Here are the different resources that we’ll discuss:
- Emotional Resources
- Spiritual Resources
- Support Systems
- Role Model
- Financial Resources
Keep each of these in mind for your caregiver recruitment and retention efforts, and the culture you want to foster at your agency.
Do you find yourself having a hard time understanding why one of your staff members behaves a certain way? Are disciplinary actions not producing the outcomes needed to help grow and develop your caregivers?
Learn more about how you can help your caregivers in the ways that they need to be helped.
Emotional Resources Your Caregivers Need
What does having emotional resources mean? This means having control and command over your response to a situation.
Your caregivers need tools and cues to take a step back and think through a situation. Without these skills, it can result in self-destructive behaviors such as rudeness, yelling, and walking out.
The caregiver turnover rate in 2021 was 64%, according to preliminary information from Home Health Care News. With the high likelihood of staff turning over, it’s important to understand the roots of their actions and to provide them with the tools they need to make safe and healthy decisions.
Be the employer you know you can be by showing your caregivers:
- They have a choice in how they respond to situations
- How to make good decisions
- How to reframe a situation that gives them control of what’s next
We spoke to Brittany Meyers, an administrator at Community Home Care Services, a home health provider in Knox, Indiana. She told us that whenever she steps foot into the office or in a patient’s home, she feels a sense of admiration for her staff.
“I develop a huge respect for the RNs, LPNs, and therapists we have on-staff that drive miles, in snow, ice, freezing temperatures, to see their patients weekly. It's incredible. This is why the owners realize the spike in gas prices has impacted our staff.”
Meyers knows that each paycheck is invested back in each caregiver’s car as they head to their next patient, so her agency supplies gas gift cards to offset the costs. By understanding and empathizing with their staff, Community Home Care Services is fostering a sense of community and leading by example.
Spiritual Resources Your Caregivers Need
When the word “spiritual” comes to mind, you’re probably thinking of religion. Religion is a form of spirituality, but there’s more to it than that.
Spirituality means being concerned with one’s soul and humanity aside from material possessions and things. Spirituality can mean being outside, connecting with nature, and having a healthy relationship with one’s environment.
Your caregivers need spiritual resources in order to feel whole. They may have a religion that they lean on for their moral code. However, there are other ways spirituality fits into a person’s well-being.
Help your caregivers find their spiritual center by:
- Helping them develop a moral code that they’ll live by
- Identifying what matters most to them and what makes them happy
- Practicing meaningful forgiveness and finding the good in each situation
Support System Resources Your Caregivers Need
Caregivers need a variety of support systems in order to thrive. That includes transportation that’s close by, support networks that foster their personal development, and more.
For workers who are parents of young children, adequate child care support is also a quintessential part of one’s ability to work effectively. It may be difficult to find a babysitter when family is not a reliable means of support. Create spaces for your caregivers to share resources like babysitters and daycare providers.
Here are some other ways you can equip your caregivers with the support system resources they need:
- Establish a professional network for them to learn from: Put a Facebook group together just for your caregivers, and a separate one for all of your staff.
- Give them a space to share their interests: Encourage your staff to take time to themselves to explore different activities that they like. These could be showcased in a caregiver talent show, or something similar.
- Build an internal system that caters to personalized support systems for your caregivers and administrative staff. Use this as a venue to discuss and share professional and personal opportunities, talent development, and more.
Role Model Resources Your Caregivers Need
As a home care agency owner, you’re in a position to develop healthy relationships and role models for your staff to follow. In establishing caregiver mentorship programs and group training sessions, you can learn how to better serve your caregivers.
Here are some tips to be a role model to your caregivers:
- Be proactive about avoiding caregiver stress and burnout. Watch for warning signs of caregiver stress, provide ample support and supervision, and check in with your staff regularly to create a culture of connection.
- Sandwich criticism with positive reinforcement of good behaviors. Caregiver recognition and appreciation goes a long way in taking care of your caregivers.
- Encourage your caregivers to be involved in decision-making. Gauge their interest in working with a new client before signing them on. Survey them to see what topics you should cover in your next training seminar.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but use these as a starting point to provide your caregivers with positive role models to look up to.
Financial Resources Your Caregivers Need
Approximately 18 percent of caregivers live at or below the poverty line. With many initiatives surrounding wages–including the Fight for 15–many home care agencies have increased caregiver wages. However, this alone won’t solve the issue of caregiver poverty.
There are other benefits you can offer that will help with your caregiver recruitment and retention efforts:
- Melody Benefits Card: This includes partial cell phone bill coverage, bus transportation coverage, and offsets deductibles and copays.
- Thnx: An easy-to-use customer and employee recognition program. Send a caregiver a cup of coffee for picking up an extra shift!
- Tuition Reimbursement: Invest in your caregivers’ continuing education while improving the quality of your clients’ care.
These are just a couple of tips to get you thinking about your employees’ financial well-being. You could also invite local banks to come in and speak to your caregivers.
One home care agency owner that we spoke to, Kim Tweedel, owner of Advocates for The Independent, invited one of her local banks to speak to her care team. Caregivers learned about the importance of saving money, where to invest, and how to prepare for tax time. As a result of this seminar, several of her caregivers opened up savings accounts with that bank.
Let Education Be Your Caregivers’ Next Move
In this article, we talked about several different resources that you can provide to your caregivers to improve their wellbeing. One more essential resource to provide your staff is continuing education.
By providing continuing education and career path opportunities to your staff, you are investing in them, their personal and professional growth, and higher-quality care for your clients.
You’re also investing in staff recruitment and retention. According to a recent CareAcademy survey, 94% of caregivers say access to further education is an important consideration in accepting a job offer.
Make your home care agency the employer of choice by getting creative to offer a higher degree of support to your caregivers. When your caregivers thrive, so does your business.