It’s no secret that growth in the home care industry is on the rise. More new agencies emerge on the scene every day. This is good news for our aging population, but makes competing in an increasingly saturated market an even bigger challenge. Putting your agency on a path to growth in 2014 starts with understanding these challenges. Let’s take a closer look at what you’re up against and what you need to do to stay ahead of your competitors this year.
1. Preparing for Increased Demand
As home care consultants we know that the numbers of people seeking home care are going to continue to grow this year and beyond. According to iHealthBeat.org, 50 million Americans will be 65 years or older by 2020, representing approximately 17 percent of the population. With more aging individuals preferring to receive care in the comfort of home, many home care agencies will struggle to meet the growing demand with qualified staff and capable caregivers. You will want to start preparing for increased demand by ensuring you have the proper systems in place to handle it. This may mean upgrading technology or hiring a home care consultant to help update your policy and procedure manual.
2. Recruiting and Retaining the Right Staff
Recruiting qualified caregivers is a critical part Non Profit Growth of growing your home care agency. After all, satisfied customers are the lifeblood of referrals. While there is a high demand for skilled staff and caregivers in the field, the number of qualified applicants available varies around the country. Some regions don’t have access to a large pool of well-trained staff–especially those agencies located in areas where there are no trade schools or colleges offering home care education.
Once staff has been recruited, home care agencies must find a way to retain their best employees. Pay is obviously a key component in retaining qualified staff, but it’s only one of many factors. You also want to ensure your agency provides the main drivers of staff satisfaction, meaningful work and appreciation for their efforts, as well as a comfortable work environment, clearly defined responsibilities and expectations, and opportunities for advancement.
3. Getting Referrals
Some areas of the country have highly saturated markets, often making it difficult for a home care agency to obtain referrals. Still, the first step to increasing referrals in any market will always be providing the highest level of care. Home care consultants can provide marketing support to help create your overall marketing plan, web presence, and print advertising you need to get the word out about your business. Your lead generation strategy can include everything from sending eNewsletters to existing clients to distributing your brochure to local assisted living buildings, physician’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient clinics.
4. Establishing Partnerships
Establishing valuable partnerships with new and emerging entities like Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Medical Homes is key to growing your agency. These partnerships provide another effective way to improve referrals. But securing these partnerships presents a challenge because you need to strategically position your agency as a value-added partner.
5. Training and Education
Regulations and certification requirements are constantly changing in the home care industry. Your agency must keep policies and procedures up-to-date with these regulations and communicate the changes to staff. This process requires you to educate employees regularly and provide training to improve patient care. Consider creating monthly or quarterly training programs in addition to continuing education programs for caregivers and office staff. This will keep employees current with best practices and stay up-to-date on any new compliance issues.