Community Care Home Health’s Effort To Stand Out In A Crowded Personal Care Market

In order to stand out in a saturated home care market like New York, figuring out – and focusing on – what makes you different is a key to long-term success.

The leaders at Community Care Home Health have been figuring out what makes their company unique over the last several years.

“We’re in an industry that — especially in New York state — is so saturated,” Brett Gatien,
director of talent acquisition for Community Care Home Health Services, told Home Health Care News. “A constant thought at the front of our minds is how are we going to differentiate ourselves from every other agency that’s out there, whether we know about them or not.”

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Community Care Home Health is a New York-based provider that offers medical and non-medical home-based care services.

The company started out as a companionship agency, offering exclusively non-medical home care. Nearly two decades later — through a mix of acquisition and organic growth — Community Care’s census is about 1,000 patients.

The number one challenge, unsurprisingly, is the caregiver shortage.

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“In the past, we’ve attacked that from a few different angles,” Gatien said. “We’ve had a centralized recruitment process where we have all of our recruiters that recruit our aides sitting in one place and attacking digitally or electronically, really scouring the whole country for caregivers. We’ve had boots on the ground, where we’ve had people out in the communities building relationships at local churches and job fairs. We’ve done it all.”

The agency has made major headway in that regard over the last several years. Gatien said the company is bringing on anywhere from 30 to 45 new employees per week.

Going paperless has been a needle-mover in that regard.

“Everything we do is electronic,” Gatien said. “There was some downside to that, though. Back in the day — five or seven years ago — I feel like we had a closer relationship with our caregivers and our field staff because they would come in and pick up their paychecks or they would come in for their yearly in-service. Now, since COVID, everyone is on direct deposit.”

There was a recent stretch when Gatien realized that the only times caregivers would come in was when they were being disciplined for something.

That didn’t sit well with him and the rest of his staff. Community Care doesn’t see the workforce crisis as a recruitment issue. Instead, it sees a retention issue.

“These people have bills to pay and if you can’t get them work within the first two or three days of them coming aboard, they’re likely to go to another agency,” Gatien said. “For us, differentiating ourselves is our number one priority. At the end of the day, the patient is our number one priority and without the caregiver, we can’t provide the care for our patients.”

The company has recently made a major shift and doubled down on its consumer-directed care program. A month ago, Community Care served 20 counties through New York’s Consumer Direct Personal Assistance Programs — also known as CDPAPs.

Community Care anticipates receiving an award from the New York State Department of Health to service 40 counties soon.

Community Care is mostly a Medicaid-based business, with about 8-12% of revenue coming from private pay. A year ago, consumer-directed care was about a quarter of the business. Today, it’s about 40%.

“It’s really a program that sells itself,” Gatien said. “When most people think of Medicaid, they think of the geriatric population that has to put all their assets away or sell other assets to be eligible for Medicaid. But these children who are on a waiver program and who usually work with a self-directed broker, a lot of the time they’re not even aware of programs like this.”

Megan Shergill, the VP of CDPAP services for Community Care Home Health, told HHCN that community education around these services has been a tremendous boon for the provider’s exposure in the market.

It’s been part of the differentiation process.

It’s also a way to give seniors and children who need at-home care an alternative caregiver model in an industry where those employees are hard to hold onto.

“Even beyond that, if someone’s young son or daughter has a beloved therapist that provides them speech therapy, they can sign up to be his or her caregiver and log those hours,” Shergill said. “I’ve seen firsthand how that revolving door of professionals can really be a struggle for these young people. Anything we can do to help reduce the number of people coming in and out of the home is going to be beneficial for everyone involved.”

Finding that niche in a crowded market is proving to be a step in the right direction.

“It’s growing tremendously and we’re scaling quite quickly,” Shergill said. “Selfishly, I’m most excited about throwing myself into the educational workshops because the feedback has been amazing. No one else in the industry — that I’m aware of in New York — is providing education at large like we are, and I think that’s how we’re going to be able to make a greater difference moving forward.”

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