Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester Launches Auto Leasing Pilot for Caregivers

As the demand for home care services rises, agencies are forced to get creative with caregiver job perks and making sure workers safely get to their clients on time.

To bolster its retention and recruitment efforts, Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester (VNSW) has launched a new automobile leasing pilot program, where caregivers are given company cars to use for both business and personal use.

Only a handful of VNSW’s 600 or so emlpoyees are currently participating in the pilot since it launched in February, but the home care provider hopes to steadily build it out with additional vehciles throughout the year, CFO Chris Cardone told Home Health Care News.

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Westerchester, New York-based VNSW — located just north of New York City — provides in-home nursing, rehab and home health aide services to about 1,000 clients daily. Founded in 1901, the regional nonprofit serves the Bronx, Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties.

“We heard very clear from our staff that the wear and tear on their vehicles is a big concern,” Cardone said. “We have some staff that put on over 1,000 miles a month just in home visits alone. A car that is five-years old can quickly get 60,000 or 70,000 miles on it.”

As part of the pilot, VNSW signed four-year lease agreements with Enterprise Fleet Management that include a package of safety and support tools for drivers. Additionally, as a marketing bonus, each leased car — all 2019 Suburu Imprezas — features the VNSW name and logo prominently displayed on the side.

“We’re going to monitor this throughout the next six months, see what’s working and what’s not working, see what we can improve on,” Cardone said. “Then, hopefully, we can roll it out to another group [of caregivers].”

Although the leasing pilot comes at a cost to VNSW, it’s worth it to potentially improve upon recruitment and retention, while also ensuring caregivers traveling in rural areas have vehicles that meet their needs.

“If we can offer this at a bit of a cost to the agency, to us, that was worth the added expense,” Cardone said. “We want our staff to be safe and to be able to provide service where it’s needed in a community. The recruitment and retention piece is big — there’s only a limited number of caregivers out there.”

So far, caregiver feedback in the pilot has been positive, he said.

To help allieviate certain with caregiver transportation in a different way, several home care companies have teamed up with Uber and Lyft.

El Segundo, California-based 24Hr HomeCare, for example, began establishing partnerships with the ride-hailing services in 2015. The company has substantially grown its partnerships since then, cooridnating roughly 1,300 rides for its caregivers over the past year or so.

Besides enabling caregivers, working with ride-hailing companies can also minimize liability risks for home care providers, business insurance experts note.

But a partnership with Lyft and Uber didn’t make sense for VNSW, according to Cardone.

“We did look into that type of program with Uber, but it was really cost prohibitive,” he said.

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