Increasing numbers of people across the country are starting their own home care businesses. With a population battered by COVID, the impacts have been far-reaching. Primarily, the already aging population has suffered both increased deaths and increased mental and physical illness due to restrictions. Secondly, healthcare has been brought to the attention of everybody, and there is a renewed focus on treating conditions that previously have had less attention, like ME. Thirdly, there’s an increased incidence of long-covid, which will increase demand for home care for the near and even mid-to-long term future. As a result, many people are starting non-medical home care businesses because it is both in need and highly rewarding. However, like many rewarding businesses, this one can be a tough nut to crack. Luckily, speaking to those with experience in running home care agencies and working within them can lead to some great tips to make the process easier and more successful.
There’s no secret about it – caregivers have a hard job. Employee churn can hurt any business, but it can especially hurt home care because there is so much training involved. You should prioritize keeping your caregivers feeling valued and content with their very valuable work. It can help to learn their birthdays and religion so you can text them on occasions that they are celebrating, as well as consider small gifts as appropriate.
Training can be expensive, but nowadays, agencies can employ online personal care aide training that complies with all state requirements. Online courses are good for very quickly applying skills to workers, allowing you to legally employ them. There are so many things to learn, including the fundamentals of care and companionship for older adults, how to deal with those who are suffering from serious and chronic conditions, and client rights. There are many solutions available for this, but make sure you choose one that also teaches soft skills throughout the program. According to CareAcademy training, this is one of the key ways to integrate compassionate communication, as well as professionalism and effectiveness.
It’s also helpful to treat your caregivers exactly how you want them to treat your clients. One of the classic lessons of psychology is displacement – commonly seen with school bullies. If somebody is getting a hard time from an authority figure, a very common way of them dealing with it is by applying a similarly hard time to somebody that they have authority over. You want to negate all this power-play, as stressed caregivers who don’t have the time or energy to be compassionate are one of the leading causes of elder abuse that can give home care businesses a bad name.
Be aware that it can be almost impossible to get too-many caregivers. You will quickly be able to reassign carers to new clients and manage any unexpected churn if you aren’t stretched for workers. Make sure your communication channels are open and efficient. Instant messaging is a good way to go. Make sure you check in with carers regularly without seeming like you’re snooping. Take the attitude that you want to help people work best. It is also good to call up your clients and check in on them regularly. If they feel they have a stronger connection with you, they will be able to alert you to issues before they blow up, as well as give valuable feedback.
Don’t underestimate the strain that your herculean effort can have on you. Make sure you have mentors that can guide you through rough patches – older, experienced professionals that genuinely believe in your mission (and who have done similar things, ideally) can be the difference between a successful, happy career and one that feels like a constant struggle.
You should always make sure you have enough sleep and extend a focus on rest and recuperation to your caregivers too. Make sure you and they have enough breaks. If you don’t take breaks, you will not be able to keep your eye on the big picture and will instead get sucked into day-to-day firefighting.
You also need to have a thorough understanding of requisite costs and how much costs you need to incur before you take a profit. It is vital to have a financial model. If the concept sounds intimidating to you, it doesn’t need to be. A model is effectively a spreadsheet that outlines your expected costs and revenue per month, allowing you to predict your financial situation after you grow. Make sure you look at some benchmark costs because you might find unexpected costs can disrupt your cash flow and ultimately derail your business.
There is a unique opportunity with the home care business to bring in revenue through three distinct channels – including obtaining more clients (the most expensive), increasing revenue per client, and retaining clients for longer (the cheapest). You should make sure your approach to all of these is balanced, although many successful businesses focus most on client retention as ensuring good customer service is easier and cheaper than a proper marketing campaign.
Speaking of marketing, you should employ some SEO. There’s a lot you can do DIY nowadays, but you might want to outsource when you grow big enough. Having a good online presence in your local area is essential as, even if your clients directly may not rely on the internet as much as the general population, family members definitely will.
It can also be important to develop something that differentiates your company from the competition. This should be something that is easy to observe and easy to prove, not just that you have a great staff or you pay special attention to clients. The owner of the business having a personal relationship with each client is a good but basic differentiator (and easy to copy), but perhaps the owner of the business drawing on their experience to provide monthly care reports to clients and their family is a good example of differentiator that you can mention to prospects.