29 Nov How your home care agency can lessen the load on family caregivers
Family caregivers are an essential component of our home health care system, and it’s important to consider their needs when you are taking care of clients in a number of ways. In this blog article, we will provide tips on how your agency can lessen their load and help them in meaningful ways.
HOMECARE AGENCIES & FAMILY CAREGIVERS
A Productive Partnership
When you are receiving an inquiry call from a family member of someone needing care, you are likely talking to their eldest daughter or son, who is probably their primary caregiver. According to a report from AARP, there are 53 million (and counting) caregivers providing unpaid care to a loved one in the United States.
Many caregivers work full-time in addition to their caregiving responsibilities, and when they hire your agency to come in and care for their loved ones, they are relying on you to be there and be effective. Here are some ways that you can help family caregivers and increase their loved one’s satisfaction as a client.
1. Ask the family caregiver(s) how they’re doing.
This tip may sound obvious or weird, but when you are tasked with caring for a loved one, your whole life revolves around someone else’s needs. Their needs tend to come first. As a home care agency owner or office staff member, you can seize the opportunity to ask the caregiver how they’re doing, are there questions or concerns they may have, essentially, make them the center of the conversation from a teaching and a learning perspective. By asking a caregiver how they are doing, you can also understand your clients better. Having a strong grasp of the context that your clients are living in, how their home life is going, and their state of health, are all connected.
2. Compile a list of resources for caregivers and be a resource for them.
Whether someone is utilizing your home health care services or not, have a list of resources for caregivers to use so you can be a source of hope, empowerment, and helpfulness, even when it doesn’t immediately benefit you. If someone is out of your service area or only needs caregiver support outside of your agency, by establishing yourself as a resource, if they have a friend in the area or know someone that can use your assistance, they will make a referral.
Some resources that caregivers may find particularly useful:
- State or government-funded caregiver compensation programs, such as Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Programs (CDPAP)
- A list of Medicaid Waivers and sources of financial help for caregivers and their loved ones
- Respite programs
- Organizations that are advocating for caregiver compensation and rights
- How to navigate our healthcare system (ex: how does one qualify for inpatient rehabilitation following a hospital stay?)
Be the Home Health Care Expert
Create blogs, white papers, and guides that help caregivers and other family members stay in the know about our healthcare system. You have a skill set and knowledge that most people who work outside of the home healthcare industry don’t know, especially when it comes to things like veteran’s benefits eligibility criteria, the admissions process for hospice, or other regulatory and operational procedures and protocols. Share your knowledge with caregivers and establish your agency as a credible thought leader in the industry, dedicated to helping the family unit as opposed to just your client.
3. Demystify the healthcare system
One of the chief complaints from family caregivers about their experiences is the amount of time they have to spend advocating for a family member and how difficult it is to navigate our healthcare system. When you have a client in the hospital, check-in on their family. See how they’re doing. Offer advice, and reassure them that you are there to help. Advocate for your client and do what you can to support their loved ones.
Diagnoses and conversations that take place in a medical setting are often spoken in medical terminology, a completely different language than English. Take some time to learn about what your client is going through, and be available to explain to the family what changes are occurring, what accommodations need to be made at home to be safer, and what nutritional changes need to happen to manage symptoms.
4. When you have a call off, avoid asking if it’s okay to cancel.
When a family member hires you to give them a break, or when they go on vacation, they are relying on your team to show up. If you have a call-off, make every effort to staff the shift. Train your caregivers to work with a variety of clients, giving them more opportunities to pick up shifts. It may seem like a relief when a client can do without care, but they shouldn’t have to.
When you have to cancel a shift because a caregiver can’t show up to their shift, a family caregiver has to drop everything to accommodate the needs of their loved ones after trusting and counting on your team to be there. As a result, they lose trust in your agency as a company. The call-off might have been preventable, however, the way you respond can have an enormous impact on your client’s experience.
Family caregivers make our healthcare system work, do your best to help them out.
Home care is an industry ripe for change with the shift toward home and community-based services, and with that, it’s hard not to talk about the unpaid yet ubiquitous contributions of family caregivers. If you have family caregivers of clients in your office or on the phone, do your best to make them the center of the conversation when possible, and to do your part in asking how you can help. Whether it’s using a different shampoo with their loved one, or a new redirect for their sibling’s dementia that works well, just by listening, you can make them feel heard, acknowledged, and seen.
AARP Unpaid family caregivers report
See more blogs on Caregiver Training, Retention & Satisfaction
- Dealing with the shortage of caregivers in homecare
- The ten best ways to show caregiver appreciation
- Caregiver Training – 6 new practices to get caregivers off to a good start
- Five facts about caregiver burnout that will startle you
- How to create magnetic job postings that attract nurses to your home health agency
Alora can help with caregiver training, education, and advocacy. Alora was voted easiest to use home health software in Software Advice’s Reviewer’s Choice awards. With caregivers of various ages, experience levels, ethnicities, and demeanors on staff, an easy-to-use software makes their transition into seeing patients all the more simplistic, allowing them to focus on all of the other facets of their duties. Want to know more about the power of simple?
Learn how Alora helps agencies with caregiver training, productivity, and retention >