How One Provider Translated Data in Better Staffing Policy

Faced with mounting wage costs and the threat of high turnover, one home care provider is using feedback from monthly surveys to address some of the industry’s biggest pressures.

More home care companies are turning to data, and private duty in-home care provider Seniorcorp is no exception, relying on monthly reports from resource management company HomeCare Pulse. But as Seniorcorp proves, just getting the data isn’t enough. It’s also a matter of assessing it and then acting to address pain points.

Seniorcorp offers personal care and non-skilled home care in several Virginia counties, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suffolk areas. From just one location in Virginia Beach, the company has grown quickly since it opened in 2003 and now provides roughly 12,000 hours of care per week throughout the communities it serves. With its growing base, the consistency of the surveys has helped shape the company’s policies in a changing environment.

“It’s been good on both the client side and caregiver side,” Andy Tysinger, COO of Seniorcorp, told Home Health Care News. “We tried for a while to do our own exit interviews and customer surveys, and it’s too hard to administer. Having the consistency of the monthly calls and the consistency of the questions that are asked, it makes it powerful to see that feedback and be able to benchmark yourself.”

To keep up with all the feedback the company receives, Seniorcorp has a dedicated person who combs through the results and shares the “good, bad and ugly” with specific individuals, according to Tysinger.

Transforming Feedback Into Policy

The information Seniorcorp has collected has enabled it to work through decisions relating to bigger industry issues, including wage pressures that started to grow late last year.

Since the Department of Labor’s (DOL) decision that home care workers are eligible for minimum wage and overtime protections, many companies have struggled with the associated costs. Seniorcorp has been forced to change some of its policies since the law was implemented last fall.

“One of the things that we are dealing with is the overtime law,” Tysinger said. “We said we were going to limit their hours to 40 hours a week unless a client would pay more for a elect time in very rare cases. We could tell [our caregivers] were unhappy about that, because some of them are used to working 50 or 60 hours a week. Be that as it may, we said we didn’t want to cap their hours, but we had to put some policies in place.”

With the survey feedback, Seniorcorp heard from caregivers who had their hours capped and worked to address some of the concerns. While the company still had to cap hours to limit overtime for most workers, Seniorcorp implemented an accelerated plan for pay increases to boost salaries over time.

“Out of the results of the HomeCare Pulse surveys for our caregivers, we were able to address a concern as we were implementing the overtime and managing hours more carefully,” Tysinger told HHCN. “We took that and looked at base pay rates, how we did pay raises and how frequently. Partly because we were able to see in month-to-month feedback some anxiety among caregivers about their ability to make the kind of money they were used to because of changing hours, we put out plans to accelerate pay increases for good performers and a bonus program monthly.”

As a small business, Seniorcorp executives have to weigh their financial decisions amid changing regulations against the need to reduce turnover.

“We’ve launched some of these pay initiatives with bonusing our best performers,” Tysinger said. “Ultimately, we’ve got to get our turnover average down. It’s still too high, though lower than the industry average. Reducing caregiver turnover will reduce costs of hiring, training and orienting new caregivers. It will improve our customer service side having consistent caregivers.”

Written by Amy Baxter