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To solve some of home care’s more persistent challenges – such as retention – agencies have embraced out-of-the-box thinking.
Specifically, they’ve turned to engagement platforms – or the “gamification” of the retention process.
One of these companies is Care Advantage. A little over a year ago, Care Advantage launched a partnership with Care Heroes, a health care engagement and incentive platform.
“We built the company with a mission of aligning incentives with key metrics that agencies use to drive their business, drive quality of care, and also optimize the workforce,” Care Heroes CEO Chiara Bell told Home Health Care News.
Care Heroes is a mobile app platform that allows caregivers to earn care coins for things such as perfect attendance, successful EVV check-ins and check-outs, and picking up extra shifts. Care coins can be used to redeem prizes like gift cards.
Overall, Care Heroes has helped its participating agencies reduce turnover by over 30%, according to Bell.
Care Advantage was looking to get better in three areas: recruitment, retention and utilization.
“We wanted to cut through the clutter and be more attractive to the caregiving talent pool,” Care Advantage CEO Tim Hanold told HHCN. “We also wanted to create more stickiness with our caregivers, that retention piece. When people come in, how do you keep them there for a period of time, happy and engaged?”
The Richmond, Virginia-based Care Advantage is a home-based care company that has 38 locations throughout Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina.
For Hanold, working with Care Heroes wasn’t an attempt to fix something that was lacking, necessarily. Instead, it was about adding an additional layer to things that the company was already doing, such as competitive weekly pay and flexible caregiver schedules.
“We wanted to tap into something fun and engaging that could be app-based,” he said. “You do these things, you get care coins, gift cards, and things of that nature.”
As far as the impact that utilizing an engagement platform has had on Care Advantage’s retention rates, it’s still too early to tell. Anecdotally, Hanold has received a lot of positive feedback across the organization. He has also found other uses for the platform.
“We utilize it around consistent clock-in, clock-out, so, obviously, that compliance piece is important,” Hanold said. “Another thing that we’re incentivizing through the platform is around client satisfaction. If a client’s adult son says, ‘This caregiver is fantastic, she’s part of the family, she’s doing such a good job.’ We try to provide some pretty generous care coins for that.”
Hanold believes that leaning on employee engagement platforms allows Care Advantage to inject some fun in caregiving, a job that can be difficult and stressful.
Arosa takes a similar path
Similar to Care Advantage, Arosa began utilizing Care Heroes a year ago.
The company’s aim was to differentiate itself in a competitive home care recruiting and retention marketplace.
“It was pretty much a no-brainer that we needed to try a rewards program that was flexible enough where we could choose what we wanted to incentivize, how much we wanted to incentivize that and gather data,” Arosa CEO Ari Medoff told HHCN. “And then learn and optimize from there.”
Arosa is a Los Angeles, California-based home care company that has 29 locations in nine states.
The company isn’t just thinking about competition for staff in terms of other providers. The company is also aware that some caregivers may go the direct-hire route, working with families and cutting out the home care agency completely.
Medoff hopes that implementing an employee engagement platform shows caregivers that they are part of a workplace culture that prioritizes rewarding them for their accomplishments.
“As a distributed organization, we have to be really mindful and aggressive about creating that culture,” he said.
By the end of the year, Arosa hopes to have a robust data set and clear KPIs to see if the company has moved the needle when it comes to things like retention.
Like Hanold, Medoff considers this approach another tool in a large toolbox for addressing staffing issues.
Prior to implementing Care Heroes, Arosa partnered with the SICA foundation to facilitate its caregiver of the month recognition program.
“We’re very proud to partner with the SICA foundation, but that only benefits one or two caregivers per month,” Medoff said.
Care Heroes allows Arosa to up their volume in terms of caregiver recognition.
Ultimately, Medoff believes that gamification has the potential to play a significant role in improving things like retention and company culture, but he doesn’t want to ignore the potential risks.
“I think there are risks, though, with taking altruistic interactions and relationships and making them into monetary transactions and relationships,” he said. “I do think that gamification can be a double-edged sword. We’re working with Care Heroes to try to think about how to mitigate those potential downsides.”
Along these lines, Care Heroes views the company as more than just a gamification platform.
“Caregivers want respect, acknowledgement, opportunity and appreciation,” Bell said. “How do we humanize them? That’s not gamification. We’re trying to change this idea that, ‘We’re just going to use this person, and we’re going to make them do X, Y and Z.’”