All home care companies have a vital role to play in shaping policies and standards of the broader industry. Each home care brand can be instrumental in establishing best practices that raise the industry to new heights to increase the professionalism and quality of care of all providers, but only if the home care brands make advocacy a priority at an industry level. This includes home care company executives taking a more active role in representing the entire industry with their expertise and principles to more clearly define industry-wide standards.
From caregivers who visit clients’ homes and the support staff that keeps local offices running, to the franchise owner who provides services and the corporate team on the brand level, professional private duty home care franchises have a responsibility to provide care that is high quality, affordable and professionally delivered.
Professionalize caregivers with education and training
Caregivers are in a unique position to provide extraordinary care that can truly make all the difference for aging or ailing clients and their families. In order to provide that professional level of care, many home care brands have come to rely on training and extensive education for caregivers. Companies who employ caregivers directly often reimburse employees for those training and education expenses, and oversee training schedules to ensure staff are current on all training requirements.
Related to education and training, the impact of home care advocacy is clearly illustrated by the industry discussion around the strengths of the employer-based model. Many home care franchises believe in a business model where senior care is provided by caregivers who are employed directly by the franchise owner, rather than by registries of privately contracted caregivers. When franchise locations employ caregivers directly, they provide oversight and supervision. This training and education allows franchisees to better protect both their employees and their clients because their staff is trained regularly on relevant topics related to the care they are providing.
Helping clients to understand the difference between the two models is important because it can be a significant deciding factor when choosing between multiple home care providers. By advocating for more transparency when disclosing hiring and training processes, home care companies are able to provide potential clients with a clearer understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of both contracted and directly employed caregivers. A more informed decision can lead to increased client satisfaction.
Use standards of care as a tool to keep step with the broader industry
Thanks to the growing advocacy of a larger group of home care companies than ever before, there are broader standards of care available in the industry that have gone a long way in strengthening the services delivered by all providers. There are many tools available, like improved training and education technology, background checks and rigid hiring requirements, and quality assurance processes. Plus, the best part of being involved in advocacy in the home care industry is seeing more companies recognize the market demand for high quality care. More companies are working together to pool resources and make sure as many providers as possible are adhering to the same care standards, making those important tools even more accessible and mainstream for local franchise owners.
Franchisors are also in a position to take advantage of these advances in industry care standards. Both franchisees and their clients benefit from incorporating these industry tools and standards into daily operations.
Become an involved voice in the industry
Once training and standards of care have been established, the next step as a franchisor is to act as a unifying voice in the industry. Home care company executives must realize their roles as advocates on behalf of franchise owners, and even as a group of competitors; it would be great to see brands come forward and advocate for their owners, who are busy serving their communities and don’t always have the ability to advocate at the federal or state level for national policies or practices. However, franchisors can encourage local owners to advocate on a grassroots community level, and educate their friends and neighbors on what home care is and why it’s important.
In the end, the futures of all home care companies are linked. It’s essential for everyone to have a good reputation, through caregivers and the services each brand provides, because one bad seed can harm the reputation of the entire industry. Home care providers, especially franchisors, should be active participants in the advocacy conversation, because of the often-vulnerable populations that are served and for the caregivers that are employed. Home care services improve the lives of thousands of people in need each day and it’s the industry’s responsibility to advance these.
Leann Reynolds was promoted to CEO at Homewatch CareGivers in March 2016 after serving as president for almost 10 years. She is responsible for the strategic direction of the company, and acts as an advocate for the employee-based home care model. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Home Care Association of America.