This article is a part of your HHCN+ Membership
As the cost for home care rises, some providers are finding that clients have more of a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to mistakes or mishaps in care delivery or care planning.
With the stakes for client satisfaction arguably higher than ever, leaders of home care companies are leaning into client retention strategies.
Generally, Sara Wilson — president and CEO of Home Assist Health — has found that home care clients and their families are taking more of a dealmaking mindset to the vetting process when they’re looking for a care services provider.
“[They want to know] if this is a trusted brand,” she told Home Health Care News. “Is it distinguishing itself from other competition in the market? They know their buying power. They’re sensitive to price, and want to know if this price will bring the value that they’re looking for. We had a meeting with a client, just recently, who was vetting our services and said, ‘Well, what am I going to get out of this?’”
The Phoenix-based Home Assist Health is a home-based care provider that provides a variety of care services, such as personal care, housekeeping and respite care.
Over the years, caregiver retention and recruitment has been top of mind for leaders of home care companies. Wilson believes that leaders should add client retention to their top priorities.
Still, she noted that this gives home care leaders the opportunity to fully evaluate the value their companies are bringing to clients.
“What’s the added value — it’s quality care, innovation, uniqueness, personalized services and educational resources,” she said.
On its end, Home Assist Health has expanded its services to include health coaching support and disease education for the entire family. This can include things like proper diet habits, meal provision and menu planning.
It can also include counseling recommendations for clients who are struggling with big life changes.
The company has also incorporated telehealth into its care delivery model to offer a more layered experience.
“How do we give you immediate, in-the-moment support to deal with these challenges of aging or disability, so that you’re successful while still working through a positive life quality at home?” Wilson said.
On the flip side, Family & Nursing Care CEO Neal Kursban doesn’t believe that clients are more willing to walk away from a home care company now, compared to any other point in time.
Based in Maryland, Family & Nursing Care is one of the largest private-pay home care companies in the Washington, D.C., area. Currently, the company provides just under 41,000 hours of care per week.
Though Kursban sees the cost of care increasing, he also believes that clients’ expectations have always been high, and remain so.
However, similar to Home Assist Health, client retention strategies are important at Family & Nursing Care.
“There’s only so many ways you can differentiate yourself in private-pay home care,” Kursban said. “In my view, the importance of agencies is to create a ‘Wow’ experience all the time. It’s hard to do.”
One of the ways Kursban believes companies can achieve this is by examining every touchpoint, and identifying the areas where the organization is failing to create that experience.
At Family & Nursing Care, this means having an infrastructure that allows the company’s coordinators to have meaningful and emotionally bonding conversations with clients and their family members, according to Kursban.
“When the intake comes in, you have to work with a family to help them identify their needs,” he said. “They don’t always know what their needs are, and it takes a pretty involved conversation to really identify their true needs and balance that with their financial position, and then appropriately guide them to a schedule that addresses their needs, but also works for your company.”
The company’s client services managers are not only responsible for communicating with clients and their families, they also help determine the best mode of communication. That means figuring out if text messaging, calls or emails work better for a client.
“It’s about meeting the clients where they are at,” Kursban said. “What’s going to work best for them? Not how your company prefers to communicate.”
Additionally, the company always wants to know when its own caregivers may be falling short, in terms of care delivery.
“[I want to know] where we are falling short, and if we are, let’s revisit,” Kursban said. “Let’s get a different caregiver. You’re paying a lot of money for this as a client. We tell them, ‘Make sure you have what you want. Don’t be shy, don’t accept complacency. It’s not going to work in the long-run.’ Hitting those conversations head-on is vitally important.”