Daily Pay Changing the Compensation Game for Rockaway Home Care

Daily pay tools — services that grant employees faster access to their earnings — have been met with both skepticism and praise within the context of curbing the caregiver crisis. But for New York-based Rockaway Home Care, they’ve been a major boon.

The nonprofit agency, which has six home care locations across the greater New York City area, recently partnered with DailyPay, another New York-based company that facilitates a fast-paying relationship between employer and employee.

“Daily pay has been a game changer for us,” Sean Hirsch, Rockaway’s executive director, told Home Health Care News.

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Daily pay tools help at-home care providers pay their workers quickly and also in a more flexible manner. Offering that payment option in an environment where caregivers are living paycheck-to-paycheck has become extremely valuable to Rockaway.

“We often like to look around and see how we can distinguish ourselves — how are we better than our competitors?” Hirsch said. “If you look at [Rockaway] versus our competitors on a surface level, there’s probably very few differences, if any. Even the aides themselves often work for multiple agencies within a five-mile radius, depending on how many cases they get offered. So we look for ways to distinguish ourselves on a labor level.”

Besides being a differentiator, daily pay has helped Rockaway solve very real billing department challenges.

In the past, Rockaway kept having aides submit late timesheets. Those aides needed to be paid, still, in order to take care of their own bills. The late timesheets were throwing the entire company’s processes out of whack, disrupting cash flow, billing and overall workflow.

After stumbling upon DailyPay through a Facebook ad, the agency began experimenting with its payment systems.

“We saw that as a way to offer another non-monetary benefit to our labor force,” Hirsch said. “The happier [employees] are, that transfers over to the patient as well.”

So far, Rockaway’s use of daily pay has resulted in happier aides, more proper and timely clock-ins and clock-outs, and a reduced number of timesheets.

“[The caregivers] are getting paid near minimum wage … bills pile up, it doesn’t always fit your payment schedule to get paid weekly. It’s hard,” Hirsch said. “If you can have access to your money quicker, it’s one less headache that you have in your life and your employer is the one who’s advancing that agenda forward. It can only do something positive. It makes you feel grateful that your employer cares enough about your personal well being to take the time out and offer that benefit.”

It did require a lot of legwork: close to 50 hours of back-end software work to advance the program forward, according to Hirsch. But it was well worth it in the end.

“Every single penny, minute and hour has proved worth it,” Hirsch said.

Other companies have dipped their toes in the daily pay water as a method to aid recruitment and retention efforts as well. In 2019, 30% of industry professionals called daily pay the best way to combat staffing shortages, according to Axxess.

Louisville, Kentucky-based BrightSpring Health Services has found success with the method, which they began exploring in 2018.

In an indirect response, Family Directed — the tech-powered home care player reviving HomeHero, also based in Louisville — launched a company-wide survey to gauge interest in the method last year.

Still, there’s not a surefire solution to a problem as massive as the caregiver shortage. In myCNAjobs recently released trends report, 98% of the over 400 home care agencies that were polled considered recruitment a concern.

“While daily pay is a valuable benefit, it isn’t the magic bullet to solve the recruiting and retention crisis,” Family Directed President Kiel Dowlin told HHCN last October.

Daily Pay won’t necessarily benefit agencies monetarily, and it will take some legwork to get started. That could be what’s deterring more operators from experimenting with the method, even if the evidence suggests caregivers enjoy having the option.

As a nonprofit, Rockaway doesn’t have to worry as much about driving revenue as private home care companies do, but giving the employees more benefits and incentives tends to come around in the end anyway, Hirsch said.

“Caregiver turnover is not a secret, it’s an industry-wide problem,” Hirsch said. “In New York City, if you walk down a block in Brooklyn or Queens, you can hit six or seven different licensed home care agencies that are going to be — on the surface — offering something pretty similar with respect to their front ends benefits. What you deliver on the back end is a completely different experience, though.”

Understandably, most in-home care companies are currently focused on the COVID-19 crisis. During the pandemic, tools like daily pay may become increasingly important, especially with employees facing uncertain schedules and potentially steep medical expenses.

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