Home Instead Taps Workers, Industry for Innovative Ideas

A multinational home care company that used to allow franchise owners to submit their ideas through a comment box in its offices has upgraded to an online platform. And the company is now taking its search for innovative ideas directly to its franchise owners—and beyond.

Omaha-based Home Instead Senior Care, a major non-medical franchise home care company, was rebuilding its innovation program almost two years ago when it realized that it could either look at its network of 1,100 franchise owners as an “obstacle” or something it could leverage, David Weigelt, vice president of innovation at Home Instead, told Home Health Care News.

“It shouldn’t just be us in Omaha thinking of great ideas and pushing them to the rest of the company,” Weigelt said. “We have 1,100 people who have skin in the game. They’re the ones down in the trenches, so we wanted to find a way to engage them and get their ideas.”

To find great ideas and engage its franchisees—who are aiming to engage the caregivers—the company launched its “innovation challenge” program 15 months ago, allowing the Home Instead network to submit ideas. Caregivers, are the only segment of employees who are not yet able to participate; though, that is a goal for the future of the program, Weigelt said.

The challenge platform was leveraged in San Francisco and referred to as “innovation central.” The platform allows any eligible participants to submit ideas electronically.

Since the program is fairly new, there has only been one challenge, titled “the first 30 days,” which lasted one month. During that month, eligible franchise owners were able to submit ideas through Home Instead’s online platform.

Initial Success

The first innovation challenge brought to light some innovative ideas to improve the initial care consultations done with clients, Weigelt explained.

“We decided to step back and focus on [bringing] new thinking and ideas into the initial care consult that we do when we come into the home for the first time,” he said. “When we put that out there, there were some people with a lot of great ideas about how we could deliver better care.”

A platform that caregivers can use to help them with initial care consultations was created from the innovation challenge ideas. Home Instead is not sharing the details surrounding the care consulting system yet, but it is currently in beta.

Tapping Outsiders

Due to the immense success of the first challenge, Home Instead decided to open an upcoming challenge to people outside of its network.

“Open innovation challenges are different beasts, and they bring very different ideas to the table,” explained Weigelt. “We want to open the challenge so anyone can submit ideas, and then what we would do with that is very much a ‘rising tides lifts all ships’ idea.”

The plan is to take the ideas sourced from the open innovation challenge and use them in a more creative way, such as a book or a website with a series of videos where people can share other their ideas.

“We want to make sure the ideas and problems we are solving are coming from those as close to the front lines as possible,” he said. “We want to bring a diversity of thought and ideas to the table, not just somebody up at the top working in a vacuum who thinks they have all the great ideas.”

Written by Alana Stramowski

Alana Stramowski

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