November is National Home Care & Hospice Month, a time to celebrate and recognize the practice of home-based care and all the people who make it possible. This week focuses solely on home care aides. To reward front line workers in the health care system, CellTrak and National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) are awarding multiple scholarships for aides.
As COVID-19 ripped through the home care industry, CellTrak realized that its commitment to the scholarship program was more important than ever. In March, many of the company’s home care aides found themselves forced to make tough choices, yet they remained at the forefront of providing care in the home.
Because of the dedication of these caregivers, CellTrak wants to recognize and support their efforts in continuing a career path as a home care hero. The company’s hope is that the scholarship program will give even more recipients an opportunity to advance their careers within the industry.
“Caregivers are the backbone of the home and community care industry,” says Cheryl Reid-Haughian, Vice President of Clinical Informatics at CellTrak. “There is no question about that.”
Here are three ways that agencies can continue to support, and honor, their caregivers.
Provide them tools that keep them safe
Technology tools can enhance a caregiver’s work life in a number of ways, including several that revolve around safety. While COVID-19 increases the value of a person’s home as a care-delivery site, it also creates new safety challenges for caregivers, who might have to enter the home of a patient with COVID.
“Never before has there been a greater need to have communication tools where messages about day-to-day changes, or patient changes, or supply management protocols are coming out and being communicated to the front line,” Reid-Haughian says. “Information must be accessible to people, with communication as frequently and as clearly as possible. Technology can really hit that mark.”
Managing emotional fatigue is another huge challenge for home-based caregivers — and another area where agencies can help them through technology tools.
“We see 64% turnover in home and community care, and with COVID requirements, it’s a pretty tiring environment to work in,” Reid-Haughian says. Giving caregivers on-demand online access to employee assistance programs — which can assist their mental and emotional health — is a vital boost.
That goes for learning management systems, too, as well as screening tools that allow for staff to check themselves, or patients, for signs of COVID. Meanwhile, tools that facilitate electronic visit verification, or EVV, enhance staff safety too.
“If you have a new caregiver going to a new home they’ve never visited, the agency team can support them better through EVV, because they can verify that they’ve arrived safely, and allow for continuous communication with the home office,” says CellTrak EVV expert Courtney Martin.
“In this environment where there are a lot of stressors on caregivers, having these tools to keep them engaged and safe, and give them support when others are not physically in the home with them, is very critical.”
Provide them tools to improve their job performance
Some of the tools that agencies provide caregivers to keep them safe also help them improve their job performance. An employee assistance program, for instance, might help a caregiver’s emotional wellbeing, which keeps them safe, but in turn impacts their ability to perform their duties. EVV can fit smoothly into a caregiver’s workflow, ensuring that they receive the benefits of the technology without any drawbacks.
“I think the other tool that we have to help them do their job better is their schedule and their care plan activities, which are embedded in their point-of-care documentation tool,” Reid-Haughian says.
“When a worker, an aide, comes to their visit, they can easily see all of the details about the patient and easily see what duties they are to do for the day. More and more, we’re seeing organizations leverage this tool as a way to help the aide. This helps them deliver good value for patients.”
Find ways to reward their work
Caregivers don’t simply work hard. They work with heart, blending their expertise with their empathy. Celebrating them and rewarding them for that passion and commitment is good for caregivers, good for care teams and great for patients.
Along with rewards and recognition, agencies can also show that appreciation by having technology systems that pay caregivers in a timely manner and give them the tools they need to best aid their patients.
“It doesn’t have to be extravagant,” Reid-Haughian says. “Just having a budget for this and making sure that people know that their work is appreciated, is really critical.”
Caregivers go the extra mile. They drive clients to the pharmacy or the cleaners. They assist their fellow caregivers to tag into shifts when needed. They are often the first people to notice when a patient’s condition is changing — a key step to preventing an avoidable hospitalization. A system that fully documents this work and effort can show all involved just how valuable each caregiver is and let them know how much you care.
To learn more about how CellTrak is celebrating caregivers through the CellTrak Home Care Aide Scholarship, visit CellTrak.com.