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Report says home care companies should stress customer service, value

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A benchmark study of nonmedical home care companies in the Lehigh Valley disclosed that employee dependability, work ethic and retention are some of the key issues facing the businesses.

Not surprisingly, the study of 22 companies, done by Thrive Media of Lower Macungie Township, also divulged that hiring is a key concern.

At-home care companies who treated their employees better – including better pay, more paid time off and recognition programs – had less turnover, said Jeffrey Tintle Jr., founder and managing director of Thrive.

“The home care companies that appear to be in the highest performing group are those that focus on great customer service,” said Tintle, who created the study, called the Lehigh Valley Non-Medical Home Care Benchmark Report. “They put more focus on customer service and value, than on reacting to what competitors were doing. They have strong self-identity.”

Training, educating and communicating proved as the best ways to approach the caregiver challenges.

“If caregivers are not happy, then clients will not be happy,” Tintle said.

Kim D’Amico, co-owner of Home Instead Senior Care’s Whitehall franchise, said she receives statistics all the time, but the Thrive study is “really good take-home for us.

“It gave us a much better perspective to what seniors need [in the Lehigh Valley] and how our caregivers can benefit,” said D’Amico, whose home participated in the study.

Thrive created the Lehigh Valley Non-Medical Home Care Benchmark Report, an anonymous, independent survey, and conducted it from July to September last year.

The company gathered results from 22 nonmedical home care providers in Lehigh and Northampton counties – and analyzed the results to help at-home care companies to improve the care of seniors, increase revenues and decrease inefficiencies.

The focus of the survey was to learn about industry trends, best practices, challenges and opportunities for home care companies. The analysis of the business-to-business study is for home care organizations that are serious about improving operating efficiencies, financial stability and revenue growth and directly confronting industry challenges, Tintle said.

The study found that the average tenure for caregivers is about three years.

It also found that more than 75 percent of the at-home care organizations do not use personality assessment when they hire.

And to recruit caregivers, online is the most common method, the study found.

“The benefit [of the study] is that it has shown us that we are right in there with our competitors,” said Anne Miller, co-owner of Millbrook Home Care Partners Inc. in Hellertown, and a participating company in the study.

According to Tintle, most nonmedical home care organizations conduct their own market studies to evaluate industry information, including competition’s client-pricing, caregiver pay and scope of service.

But, because nonmedical at-home services are private pay, there are very little public data and statistics available for which home care companies can measure themselves, Tintle said.

And although home care companies were conducting their own studies, Thrive found that those being done were limited in both the number of organizations surveyed and depth of information.

“In working with the home care market, it’s very competitive,” Tintle said. “Companies wanted to collaborate with us to see what’s out there and how their competitors handle issues.”

The report also allows community planners and other health and senior care organizations to adequately address the needs of an aging population.

Besides the survey of providers, extensive research was done on trends and best practices, including interviews with local and state government offices, nonprofits and national professional organizations that work with nonmedical home care organizations.

The report was segmented into four categories – home care providers in Lehigh and Northampton counties; client pricing and service information; caregiver statistics; and sales, marketing and staffing.

The study is proprietary, and only the participating at-home care companies in the survey received a copy of the results, as well as some of Thrive’s clients and strategic partners, Tintle said. The company shares it with people on a limited basis, and it is also available for purchase for $399, he said.

“There is value in this information because it’s important to other industries, as well,” Tintle said. “Hospitals, for example, need to know the capacity of community based services to serve people in communities.”

In August, Thrive did a similar survey for skilled nursing homes. And the company is working on a survey for personal care homes and assisted living facilities.

In March, Thrive will update the skilled nursing results, according to data that will be released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Tintle said. The company also plans to reach out to the respondents of the Lehigh Valley Non-Medical Home Care Benchmark Report for a six-month update.

“Everyone that participated was very appreciative that we did it [the nonmedical survey],” Tintle said. “These are questions they [at-home nonmedical care companies] need to ask on a regular basis, to go through metrics to measure themselves.”

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Jennifer Glose

Jennifer Glose

Reporter Jennifer Glose covers health care, Berks County and other topics. She can be reached at jenniferg@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 111. Follow her on Twitter @jenniferg_LVB and read her blog, “Networking,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/networking-blog.

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