From technology and onboarding to company policies and procedures, training is the industry-agnostic backbone of every process and job function within an organization. However, in a highly regulated industry like home-based care, which is facing some of the greatest staffing pressures in recent history, the role of training expands beyond the walls of the organization, and the ROI runs much deeper than face value.
In today’s volatile home-based care environment, providers can use three KPIs to measure the all-encompassing value of their training programs:
- Recruitment and retention
- Staff satisfaction
- Improved care outcomes
Recruitment and retention
Home-based care is in a constant state of evolution, challenging providers to drive growth and quality of care simultaneously. Yet this transformation does not occur without growing pains as providers balance the increased demand for care services with crippling staff shortages.
According to the Home Health Care News Home-Based Care Outlook Survey 2024, staffing will remain the number-one pain point for provider organizations into the near future. And while it’s down 10% from the year before, the vast majority of survey respondents still believe there is no significant improvement on the horizon. In turn, home-based care organizations are looking for new outlets to drive recruitment and retention, and training is a promising tool for both opportunities.
Training can make a significant impact on recruiting by offering experienced caregivers and health care workers from other industries a way to move laterally in the home-based care space, even if their previous care experience doesn’t align with the prospective employer’s current need. But more importantly, it creates a similar opportunity for professionals outside of health care, as the shrinking number of traditional caregivers fails to meet the rising demand and growing senior population.
Kimberly Jones, General Manager for Help at Home Senior Care, a Northern-California-based provider with more than 200 caregivers, has experienced this firsthand through her company’s use of home-based care training platform CareAcademy.
“It helps all kinds of professionals see that there is another industry accessible to them — one that has very meaningful work,” she says. “I think that’s going to bode well for our industry as the senior population ramps up and the number of typical caregivers shrinks.”
On the retention front, formal training programs also create unique career-pathing opportunities for caregivers of every experience level who are looking to grow within their organizations. The lack of a clear path for growth is a significant driver of turnover, especially in smaller organizations. But home-based care providers can implement training programs to offer employees a roadmap of opportunity, a means to measure their progress, and clear next steps to grow as caregivers.
This idea of career-pathing also ties into staff satisfaction as caregiver work intensifies in the current landscape. Because the patient population is growing disproportionately to the caregiver pool, caregivers are carrying a greater workload regardless of their experience level. It is a recipe for burnout unless providers can equip caregivers with the skills and resources they need to navigate this environment.
Formal training programs are a solution to burnout and subsequently, staff satisfaction. Whether through a digital platform or hybrid approach, employees can see exactly what they need to do and how to do it to get the skills they need to excel. It also gives providers additional means to motivate caregivers financially with a clear path for economic growth. When caregivers know exactly what steps they can take to make more money while simultaneously improving their day-to-day work, everybody wins.
“The way that we have incentivized training and our rates for our caregivers is threefold,” says Jones. “We look at: What is your skill level now? How can you increase your pay rate with training? And how will your pay rate increase with longevity?”
Providers can also take this a step further with an online training platform, because it allows caregivers to do all of these things on their own time. They can complete courses when it’s most convenient and stay focused on care provision whenever they’re in the field, which creates a constant state of growth and progress without a sacrifice to patient-centered care. This flexibility means career-pathing doesn’t have to come at the expense of the organization, the patient, or staff satisfaction, and caregivers have the ability to learn and grow at their fingertips.
Improved care outcomes
When agencies are fully staffed and caregivers are happy to show up every day, care outcomes inevitably improve. This is for many different reasons, but at its core, it is because caregivers can spend their time in the field focused solely on what brought them into this industry to begin with — providing meaningful, uninhibited, patient-centered care.
Providers that have a well-thought-out training program in place create realistic expectations and a sustainable work environment, which is critical in a field that truly isn’t for everyone. By equipping caregivers with the skills and knowledge they need to excel, it has a direct impact on the quality of care down to the minute spent with each patient.
Not only does formalized training help caregivers navigate the nuances of each condition, treatment, and emergency scenario they might encounter, it also ensures that they have the confidence and knowledge to truly make an impact on their patients’ lives. When employees are happy, confident, and skilled, they do better work. In this case, better work means better care.
Getting the most out of a training program
Training serves as a universal foundation for all processes and roles within an organization, and it should be approached as such. This means putting a formal program in place, or refining the existing regimen with supplementary tools and resources to make the greatest possible impact.
Online training platforms specifically can help bolster recruitment and retention, staff satisfaction, and care outcomes by outlining a clear path to success in every facet of the business. This roadmap is key to improving the experience for every stakeholder in the care journey, and it provides caregivers with the autonomy to determine what they truly want to accomplish with their time at the organization.
“When somebody starts with us, they get a handout that breaks down exactly how our program works,” says Jones. “It spells out all of the different classes, timelines and pay rates to help caregivers carve their own path based on what they’re looking to get out of this career.”
CareAcademy’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to a caregiver-centric healthcare system by elevating caregivers and enabling excellent health outcomes. With a care enablement platform that offers accessible and engaging training content, streamlined technology solutions, and measurable insights, CareAcademy is transforming the way we train essential caregivers. To see how we can help you achieve your operational and staffing goals, visit www.careacademy.com.