To alleviate staffing headwinds, home-based care providers are having to get creative.
One provider, in particular, has seen impressive returns on some of its newer strategies. Elara Caring is investing in new technologies and programs to ensure its caregivers are spending as much time as they can delivering care.
“Our growth strategy is fueled by talent,” Elara Caring Chief People Officer Laura Hamrick told Home Health Care News. “Our goal is to be the very, very best place to practice care and we narrowed our focus down to three things: culture, leadership and great jobs.”
The Dallas-based Elara Caring is a home-based care provider with about 200 locations across 17 states. The company employs personal care aides, nurses, behavioral health specialists, physical therapists and hospice nurses, among other types of health care professionals.
Because Elara Caring offers such a wide range of services, competition for employees is high. That’s why, nearly two years ago, the agency shifted its HR focus to try to hone in on work-life balance for workers.
In the second quarter of 2023, those changes paid off. Elara Caring set an internal record by increasing caregiver staffing by 21%. It also reduced the time to hire from 22 days to nine.
“Our applicant pools are up five times over this time last year,” Hamrick said. “That’s given us a chance to be really selective and very aggressive as we expand our hiring across the country.”
Some of the investments Hamrick highlighted include the company’s new app — ElaraCare — which acts as a one-stop hub for team members.
It’s also contracted with the cloud-based software company ServiceNow to launch a new feature in the app that automates appointment scheduling, shift offerings, pre-visit management and other tasks.
“We use some technology-enabled investments to help us drive our culture,” Hamrick said. “Communication is at the heart of the changes we’ve made and is a big piece of the culture aspect. We knew we wanted to be able to engage with our caregivers to create that social connection, but also to access any of our HR systems.”
The agency also launched a new initiative dubbed “Project Lightning.” Hamrick and her staff wanted to lighten the documentation burden on caregivers.
“In its simplest form, caregivers want to provide care,” she said. “That’s why they’re in this business. They’re a very mission-focused group and when they’re complaining about charting or administrative time or even drive time, it’s not a burden to them. It’s a burden because they would rather be providing care. They want to work at the top of their license and they want to do what they love.”
The program streamlined Elara’s Homecare Homebase (HCHB) software interface and yielded a 10- to 15-minute reduction in the time required to document a single home health visit.