Bluebird Homecare, a Nashville, Tennessee-based home care company, has acquired Champion Caregivers in Fort Worth, Texas, and is looking to keep expanding. The company has five locations, including the addition in Fort Worth, and has been in operation since 2015.
“I expect that we will be in three more markets by March 2018,” CEO Stuart Brunson told Home Health Care News.
He declined to share which markets the company is considering, but the company is already in the process of obtaining operating startup offices and acquiring another agency.
In addition to the new Forth Worth location, Bluebird has operations in Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; and St. Louis. It provides private duty, non-medical care, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care, Parkinson’s care, developmental disabilities care, personal health and hygiene assistance, meal preparation and post-surgery recovery, among others.
For all its markets, Bluebird has approximately 300 caregivers, Brunson said. The cost of the company’s basic services can be between $19 and $25 per hour, depending on market and volume.
Moving to Metro
Bluebird became operational in August 2015 after it acquired an Atlanta agency with a 29-year history. While Bluebird is based in Tennessee, it has no operations in the state. Bluebird has since opened locations in Birmingham, Louisville and St. Louis as startup locations—its preferred expansion strategy—though the company also looks to acquire existing operations.
“Our preference is to go into a market and start from scratch, because frankly we think it’s easier to develop our culture when we can do it with the very first hire,” Brunson said. But Champion Caregivers, which has been operating in the Fort Worth area since 2012, caught Bluebird’s attention because of similarities to Bluebird in its approach to business and the system Champion used, he added.
The price of the Champion acquisition was not disclosed.
Though Bluebird is a smaller player where it has a presence, the company is looking to the future in its moves to metropolitan markets, Brunson said.
“The reason we’re going to those markets is that it’s the best opportunity in the years and decades ahead,” he said. “It’s more about population density, access to workforce, and then we focus on a subset of geographic areas in those larger markets because we cater to the private pay clientele.”
Paying for the Best
The private-payer focus allows the company to focus on its goal of paying workers well.
“Frankly the reason for that is we want to control our own economics, because we want to pay as well or better as any other agency in our market,” Brunson explained.
The company’s base pay ranges from $11 to $14 per hour for caregivers, along with a benefits package that includes paid time off, health insurance and the company paying for employee enrollment into retirement plan options, he said.
Bluebird’s hiring process includes a personality profile assessment, in-person interviews, background and reference checks, drug screening and monthly background checks, according to Brunson.
“We hire about four percent of the applicants that we see,” he said. Though the company is growing fast, retention is still a primary focus, he added.
“We want to hire the kind of caregiver who would want a career with us as opposed to one that would bounce from agency to agency to get a 10-cent raise,” he said.
Bluebird’s staff is one of the main factors in its 97% satisfaction rate, which is measured by a third–party vendor.
“I attribute that rate to our responsiveness and the quality of our staff,” Brunson said.
Bluebird uses monthly surveys of its clients and employees as a key part of learning where it can improve, Brunson said. And it’s not standing still on its services in the meantime.
“We are exploring ways to integrate new technologies into the home on behalf of seniors and their families,” he said. “There are lots of interesting tools out there that are being test-reviewed, and we are certainly actively engaged in finding like-minded partners who want to help people age at home with new technologies in addition to staffing we can provide.”
Written by Maggie Flynn