The COO of Caring Senior Service shares how incentivizing career development has been a successful way to keep caregivers from leaving.
Private duty agencies are struggling to retain workers once they've been hired. A recent report found that 57% of caregivers quit within the first 90 days. Caregiver wages are typically low, many work several jobs at different franchises to make enough income, and career development opportunities are not always available.
Caring Senior Service launched its Caring Rewards program to incentivize and reward caregivers for completing training modules and being actively involved in their work. The points earned from completing each module can be redeemed in an online store of over 10,000 items. But better yet, this program helps caregivers to advance in their skills and wages.
HealthLeaders spoke with Jeff Bevis to learn more.
The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.
HealthLeaders: How was Caring Rewards developed?
Jeff Bevis: A lot of us in the home care space have a learning management system or at least an online learning platform. What we do is marry the reward system to the LMS modules and try to incentivize and reward the caregiver for taking additional training.
What caregivers have been telling us in the industry for years and years is that they want more training, they want more structure, they want more professional development.
HL: How do you think the program is developing quality caregivers?
Bevis: A big piece of Caring Rewards is our GreatCare operating platform. The GreatCare Method is built around what Caring Rewards is all about: trying to make sure that we maintain a high level of onboarding and experience with our caregivers. We're giving them tools to enable active involvement much better or to a higher level than what you see in the rest of the industry.
Because they're caregivers with enhanced training, are more actively involved, and have better tools, we're able to deliver a higher quality of care or higher level of service.
HL: How does the program work?
Bevis: Let's say I'm a caregiver that is hired by a Caring Senior Service office. I'll complete my onboarding and orientation before I ever go out into the field to serve a client. The training is explaining and showing me that we have certified, advanced, and master-level certification if I have aspirations of additional training, professional development, or want to learn more to enhance my overall skills.
We make that clear up front so that caregivers take advantage of it right away, and because it sets us apart … in the industry.
Bevis continues with his example: As I continue to serve clients with Caring Senior Service, I decide that I want to participate in opportunities to learn more. My care manager can start assigning me online modules in our learning management system and for each of those that I take, I earn Caring Reward points. In addition, for each of those that I take, I'm working up to GreatCare Certified Level One.
Once I achieve that, I continue to take courses, all online, and I can become GreatCare Advanced Level, and then Master Level. Not only does that enhance the level of training, but it also drives a higher hourly wage for me.
Already we've seen in the last several years that it can even lead to becoming a manager in the office. About a third of our managers, nationwide, started as caregivers with us, so they've seen the benefit of this type of program.
HL: Tell me about the modules that caregivers can take.
Bevis: [The modules start with basics]: what's the difference between companion care services and personal care services, how to transfer someone effectively, etc. This will also vary by states because they have different training requirements.
We have courses for meal preparation, cooking, how to clean a house effectively, what to provide when we take someone to a physician's appointment. The memory care side is even more specialized to make sure that the caregiver is properly trained in helping people with dementia.
HL: What kinds of rewards can caregivers redeem their points for?
Bevis: There's all kinds of retail merchandise. We've accessed an outside third party and [the caregivers] redeem for furniture, sporting goods, clothing, household goods.
HL: How does the program affect employee turnover within the first 90 days?
Bevis: From a metric standpoint, the first 90 days is pivotal for turnover. Our system turnover is just under 41% right now, and the latest industry benchmarking report had the industry at 77.1%. We're better than the industry number by quite a bit, but in the first 90 days, our caregiver turnover runs about 27%
HL: Considering the national turnover rate, how important is it for agencies to invest in their caregivers in similar ways to equip them with the tools that they need from day one?
Bevis: I've been tracking caregiver turnover and retention for the last 20 years. It's always been kind of a ticking time bomb to home care brands. I don't think we pay enough attention to it as an industry, quite honestly.
That's why [Caring Senior Service pays] even more attention to that. We think that's the metric that measures the effectiveness of Caring Rewards and the GreatCare offering, as well as just the retention rates. We've had over 1,000 caregivers redeem their Caring Reward points.
“What caregivers have been telling us in the industry for years and years is that they want more training, they want more structure, they want more professional development. ”
Jeff Bevis, COO, Caring Senior Service
Jasmyne Ray is the contributing editor for revenue cycle at HealthLeaders.