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Q&A: Leigh Davis on Post-Acute Recruitment and Retention

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   October 05, 2022

Davis speaks with HealthLeaders about tactics he emphasizes as a consultant for recruitment and retention.

As the healthcare industry struggles with recruitment and retention efforts to bolster the workforce, many are implementing different strategies to differentiate themselves from competitors.

In addition to his role as president of Davis + Delany Home Care Lab, Leigh Davis also offers consulting services in the post-acute, home care sector for organizations wanting to improve their recruitment and retention efforts. One retention technique, the Caregiver Champions Club, allows agencies to find common ground with their caregivers by outlining a path of upward mobility within the organization based on the number of hours they work.

HealthLeaders spoke with Davis about the program's structure, its appeal to caregivers, and its benefits for agencies, along with other recruitment and retention strategies.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

HealthLeaders: How does a program like Caregiver Champions Club work?

Leigh Davis: It's a recognition and promotion program by virtue of caregivers; as they work more hours, they're moved up in the club. They'll start out the first 90 days as a base-level caregiver. They're not in the club yet, and what happens is the recruiter explains to them the career path they have for them where they're not just going to be a caregiver all their life. We talk to them in terms of how they're going to be recognized, how they're going to be promoted and move up; not just be a caregiver. After 90 days, they get a raise, a promotion, and become a member of the Caregiver Champions Club. They move from a base-level caregiver to a pearl-level caregiver.

From then on, once you work 1,000 hours, you become a silver-level caregiver and we give you another promotion. Now, I won't say [they] get another raise; that usually comes about every six months thereafter, but we're going to keep giving you promotions.

HL: How does a program like this set an organization apart from others like it?

Davis: It allows companies, the owners, to have a completely different conversation with caregivers. We're telling them about how we're going to move them up the longer they stay with us. We're talking to them about how they're going to ascend. This isn't just recruitment and retention, this is human psychology. Humans want to improve their lot in life, they want to be promoted, they want to be recognized. So we're giving them a clear future path to which they can be promoted and move up the ranks.

HL: How many levels are there to a program like this?

Davis: We've got one [caregiver] who's been with us over 20 years. She’s double titanium. She's got 20,000 hours. You've got to get a little creative the longer they go. We started the Caregiver Champions Club after she had started with us and calculated all her hours and she was already at the gold level. You can create your own levels as you go.

HL: How can implementing a program like this help agencies and health systems impacted by the staffing shortage?

Davis: The Caregiver Champions Club is one of those tools among others that allow you to address more than just pay. We've seen the research now; it's not all about pay as many people still believe. You've got to pay well, but the pandemic has brought this realization that there's more to life than working. This allows you to have this broader appeal; you can address more than just a paycheck. It helps them to feel they're making a difference or impacting the lives of others.

HL: Are there similar methods that agencies can implement?

Davis: Another tactic is what I call the BEAP, which is more of an overarching principal that owners need to remember that they talk to applicants about. B is for broader mission, E is for their education path, A is for advancement, and P is promotion. That's for today's caregivers, Gen Z and Gen Y. They need to know more than just their duties. This allows you to have a broader conversation, and within all of that you can insert the Caregivers Champion Club.

HL: What would you say about agencies and systems reluctant to change their practices, but still struggling find talent?

Davis: They'll just keep getting the same results. There will be a moment of reckoning where they admit they've got to implement something new, and then they commit themselves to it. For most, it almost comes back to the “sea of homecare sameness”: we love our team, we love our caregivers, etc.

Caregivers will think, “Oh, I've heard this before.” You're not just looking for employees, you're not just looking for caregivers; you're looking for partners who can support what you believe in. So, each owner, to a certain degree, can have a unique and distinct culture in which individuals say to themselves, “That's cool. That's different."

We want to show ourselves as unique and what we're passionate about. Owners need to get out from the behind-the-desk mentality and bring people into a team mindset. We're a force, changing the lives of seniors, but we're affecting entire communities in what we're doing. But sharing that drive, the personal vision, whatever you're giving your time and energy to that isn't work-related, people want to know that. They want to know what's real.

Jasmyne Ray is the revenue cycle editor at HealthLeaders. 

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