What We've Learned.
A word from our CEO, Joy Fulford, regarding home-care market trends in the wake of Covid-19 and how to prepare your agency for fall.
When Covid-19 struck, theories emerged as to how the home care industry may be effected. OPS believes in real data and we want to share our insight.
As the country took steps towards recovery, OPS was inundated with requests for our Competitive Market Analysis Report. During exit calls I would review the report with agency owners and, without fail, I got the question "What trends are you seeing from other agencies?". I was hesitant to answer and would typically respond with the caveat, "It's a little too early to tell, but so far this is what we are seeing". Now, with a few months of this behind us and enough data to rely on, I finally have the ability to answer that question. As we prepare for fall, I want everyone to have access to our insights. I hope these few findings can help.
The Power of Minimums.
As shelter in place orders were mandated we saw 2 distinct groups of agencies form. Those with shift minimums and those without. Agencies with a majority of clients who maintained a schedule of 3 hour shifts at least three times a week saw little change in business. However, agencies with a majority of clients who required shorter visits only once or twice a week experienced a sharp decline in business. Offering shorter home care visits isn't a bad thing, but make sure that those clients are not a bulk of your business.
What Caregivers Care About.
OPS surveyed more caregivers than we have ever before. The take away? The schedule and client consistency are their top concerns. Caregivers are looking for flexibility now more than ever. Perhaps their child is having to home school or perhaps public transportation presents less risk of exposure during certain time frames. Whatever the case may be, caregivers have personal lives which have been drastically altered. So, if they need to stay home or change their availability, they want the option (without penalty).
Caregivers are also very concerned with consistently being assigned to the same client. Caregivers know their clients and the clients' families well. If caregivers are familiar with the client, the caregiver is less concerned about the risk of exposure to the virus. Being continuously assigned to different clients isn't easy, but especially now. Caregivers want client consistency if it is at all feasible.
I know. I know. These two items are a bit contradictory. Consider assigning two caregivers to each client and rotate the caregivers each week. This process will keep the client and caregivers familiar with one another and should a caregiver need a personal day you have another caregiver that can fill the shift. Each business is different, so adapting this model to your agency's needs may be necessary.
Unless your home-care agency operates in an epicenter, "Hero's Pay" doesn't exist. In fact, OPS found that caregiver pay experienced little change, overall. Refrain from raising your pay rates unless they fall towards the lower end of your market distribution.
At OPS we recognize that every market is unique. Some markets require shorter shifts. However, if you can avoid scheduling shifts of 2 hours or less you should! These shifts are always difficult to staff, but especially now. Caregivers do not want to risk exposure for a 1 or 2 hour visit. This only reinforces the trends we have seen with minimums.
I hope these trends offer a bit of insight, but remember - Every Market Is Unique. The best way to develop a successful business strategy is to conduct a Competitive Market Analysis. Our report surveys your local market to provide you with the best competitive advantage. You can read more about the report here or check out our website for other great resources.
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