By Andrew Rail, Director of Quality Management at Home Care Pulse
In July 2007, I sat on a plane flying back from Beijing, China. I had spent two weeks being wooed by a manufacturing firm. The gentleman to my right, as it turned out, owned a multimillion dollar business manufacturing and selling fishing gear in such stores as Cabela’s. He had just spent two weeks in Eastern China with the sole focus of checking quality assurance of his fishing waders.
As I listened to this gentleman – worth millions of dollars – explain the painstaking process to make sure his fishing waders did not sink, I thought, he sure is spending a lot of time on an airplane making sure his waders work. I then recalled a TV show I saw on the Travel Channel explaining the quality management process that Dominoes has in place to make sure there is no metal in their dough.
We are not dealing with pizzas. Nor are we dealing with fishing waders or with steering alignments. We are dealing with the lives of those we care for. We care for grandmothers, grandfathers, spouses, siblings, and partners. Often we are dealing with the few precious moments these loved ones spend in mortality.
Obviously, choosing who provides this type of care in these types of moments is highly significant. More significant than a pizza. Or a pair of fishing waders.
So why do so many fail to pay the same amount of detail to quality management and assurance in home care as others do in their industries?
For some, budget is justification. For others, it’s Healthcare Reform. There are a slew of reasons for not having some sort of quality management in place.
But there are five people in every home care agency that have every reason to attend and take part in a quality management meeting monthly. Those individuals are:
- Agency Directors
- Operations Team Members
- Sales and Marketing Team Members
- Human Resource Leaders
- The Caregivers Themselves
In some agencies, some individuals may wear multiples of these hats. And that may be okay. What is not okay is when those who wear these hats fail to take part in quality management. No matter which or how many of these hats you may wear, make sure you allow those who wear these hats to succeed by giving them the tools they need. And often, these tools are found in a quality management program.
For the record, just about every agency owner and director takes great care and pride in the quality of care they provide. The million dollar question is how do your clients view the quality of care they receive? The care provided may be second to none, but if the clients fail to recognize the quality of care they receive, then the likelihood of losing those clients to another agency – even one that provides inferior care – rises dramatically.
A quality management program provides your clients with a voice that provides critical feedback into not only the care they are receiving, but how they feel about all aspects of your business.
Often when I visit with agencies, they may initially fail to see how a quality management program can impact such items as profitability and revenue.
A solid quality management program in place, when used correctly, can lower client acquisition costs and increase caregiver retention. The ability to identify satisfied clients, replicate the formula which made them satisfied, and leverage that to attract new clients through referral programs quickly lowers client acquisition costs.
On the flip side, a program that captures, measures, and boosts caregiver satisfaction can result in increased retention. This retention can lead to even more satisfied clients and increased profitability as caregiver acquisition costs are lowered as well.
Outsourcing your quality management to a third party frees up time for team members that would normally collect and manage the data, reducing opportunity costs. Let your case management focus on what they do best while allowing someone else to collect the data they need to make decisions. Having an internal team member collecting the data also dangers the skewing of the data to result in what the internal team member presupposes, whether intentional or not.
Sales and Marketing Team Members
According to last year’s Private Duty Benchmarking Study, industry growth in 2011 was an impressive 17.5%. In 2012, it surged to over 20%.
In our history, Americans have always been drawn to opportunities to increase personal wealth and prosperity, whether it be gold in Alaska, the burgeoning automobile in Michigan, technology in Silicon Valley, real estate in Florida, or oil in North Dakota.
And right now, that industry is home care.
Two weeks ago, CNN reported that the United States will see 3.2 million professional caregivers enter the market. That is approximately 1% of the nation’s current population.
In order to succeed in the upcoming onslaught of home care agencies, is a way to differentiate yourself from other home care agencies. When forging a relationship with a referral source, or attempting to secure a new agreement with a family, do your sales team members have tools in hand that are proof of the quality of care your agency provides? Examples of these may be Home Care Pulse’s Best of Home Care Awards, client testimonials, or quality management scores from a quality management program.
Human Resource Leaders
HR managers are often torn between management and employees. They are also tasked with hiring and preparing caregivers for success. Through utilizing a quality management program, HR team members can help team members clearly define expectations. They can also identify hiring strategies and training programs that create the desired outcome. It also allows them a peek into the homes of the clients when determining the appropriate resolution of manager-employee situations that need their expertise.
The Caregivers Themselves
Not all caregivers want more money. Very few do. Do not let their requests distract you. What they are requesting is recognition. Recognition comes in a variety of ways: tokens of appreciation, job mobility, title changes, recognition of a job well done (especially in front of peers and management). A quality management program allows for these types of incentives. Having a third party performing the quality management helps free up concerns that caregivers may have – real or imagined – that particular employees are fudging the data to meet their needs.
Allowing the caregivers to see what they are being held accountable to monthly also allows them to make personal goals. And if the caregivers as a whole strategize, then work together to increase a measured quality management system, employee morale increases.
Agencies continue to invest substantial financial and emotional capital into their team members in order to create success and to see a return on those investments. A sound quality management program provides those team members – well beyond “QM Managers” – with the tools they need in order to succeed at the tasks they were hired to accomplish.
About the 2013 Private Duty Benchmarking Study
Leading Home Care Subscribers can save $50 on the 2013 Private Duty Benchmarking Study with promo code LHC13through April. Order your copy now at https://homecarepulse.infusionsoft.com.
The 2013 Edition will be released on April 15th with the full results of this year’s national study on the private duty home care industry. The 2013 Edition will feature national and regional benchmarks on finance, operations, sales and marketing, recruitment and retention, and quality, along with statistics on the Impact of Healthcare Reform and State Licensing Requirements. Watch for additional articles and webinars from Home Care Pulseand Leading Home Care on the 2013 Study!
About the Author
Andrew Rail is the Director of Quality Management at Home Care Pulse, the leader in research and quality management for the private duty home care industry. With his compelling energy and passion, Andrew Rail has a talent for inspiring business leaders. For nearly 12 years, he’s consulted with businesses and government agencies all over the world – from Europe, China, and Washington, D.C. – and he’s led many successful strategic initiatives and award-winning campaigns throughout his career. Andrew is passionate about helping private duty home care business owners discover the tools to help their businesses grow.