Whether you are simply just aging yourself or are a frontline member of the aging care community, it’s important that we take every opportunity we can and share our stories, insights and concerns with those who can make a difference. And the annual White House Conference on Aging provides the ultimate chance for us to take what we know and our suggestions on the future of aging care straight to the top.
This year’s conference will take place on July 13. I’m letting you know about the conference now, not only so you’ll set aside that time on July 13, but also so you have time to participate ahead of time. The conference website, WhiteHouseConferenceonAging.gov, lists six different ways you can get involved, and I hope you’ll consider some if not all, of them. The following ways to get involved, however, may be particularly relevant to anyone in the home-centered care business:
Provide Your Thoughts About the Issues: The conference takes a look at four policy briefs related to caregiving, on retirement, about elder justice, on long-term services and support, and healthy aging. You can read the briefs online and are encouraged to provide your own online comments. If you read through what’s already there, you’ll see several caregiving organizations have already offered their insights and concerns.
Join the Twitter Chat: By now you may know what a firm believer I am in the intrinsic value of social media. Well, the White House Conference on Aging knows it, too, and that’s why they have a Twitter page dedicated to the conference. The White House encourages members of the caregiving community to Tweet their questions on caregiving using the hashtag #WHCOA. Your question may be chosen to be one answered by the panel of experts during the conference.
Host a Conference Viewing Party: The White House provides detailed information on how you can host a viewing party, including questions you can ask your viewers to facilitate and further the discussion of caregiving. Consider this part of your staff training, or part of a neighborhood or family event.
Don’t waste another minute. You can sign up now via email to receive regular updates on the conference as it approaches. This link also provides a wealth of other communication options in case you are interested in any sort of specific information on aging-related and disease related issues.
At corecubed, we’re all about getting you the latest information to move your business forward. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is not one to be missed, and we look forward to learning from it and applying what we learn as we work with our marketing partner clients to grow their businesses.
Our experts specialize in the latest tools and information in aging care and marketing, to help your homecare and aging services business stay current and at the forefront of our field. We can help identify and bridge your knowledge gaps and provide an action plan for addressing the issues your business faces now, and in the future. To learn more about our various marketing services, contact us today.
A new joint research study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, released on June 4, highlights the challenges unpaid family caregivers and their loved ones face, and the caregiving solutions needed. Not only does this study build on previous such studies conducted by NACS and AARP in 1997, 2004, and 2007, these advocacy groups say this new research provides an even better baseline for identifying today’s family caregiver and changes to caregiving in the future.
Here are several emerging trends in family caregiving highlighted in the report, along with my insights on why your homecare business should keep these in mind:
Changing caregiver demographics: While women still carry the bulk of caregiving duties–the average caregiver is a 49 year old woman who takes care of an elderly relative—men now make up 40 percent of family caregivers, providing 23 hours of care weekly. And middle age caregivers no longer have a monopoly. As the parent-child age gap continues to rise, Millennials, those between 18 and 34, now make up 25 percent of family caregivers. And as we continue to live longer, though not necessarily healthier, there has been an increase in caregivers age 75 or older, usually caring for an ill spouse. These seniors often go it alone or seek help from friends and family.
Caregivers aren’t a single demographic and their needs aren’t a one-size-fits-all, which is why it’s crucial for your home care business to showcase the depth and breadth of services it offers, for both the caregiver and their loved ones.
The rise of higher-hour caregivers: This growing category encompasses caregivers who provide at least 21 hours a week of unpaid care, have been doing so for an average of 5 ½ years and are expected to continue providing such care for another 5 years.
Higher-hour caregivers can easily suffer caregiver burn out much more quickly than the occasional family caregiver. The study found 46 percent of higher-hour caregivers report high emotional stress. Home care agencies provide valuable services to these caregivers, in terms of not just daily task management, but also respite care. In order for family caregivers to continue clocking in these hours for the next five years, they need to all focus on themselves. The support of a respected home care agency and its well-trained staff can help these caregivers see that they should put themselves first, and give them the tools to do so, without compromising the level of care they expect for their loved ones.
Growing financial strains: The financial strain of caregiving continues to be a major factor in caregiver stress. Caregivers reported an average household income of $45,700. Higher-hour caregivers, specifically, reported difficulty finding affordable options within their communities, including affordable in-home health services. In addition, four out of 10 long-distance caregivers use paid services to care for their loved one, but 21 percent of those who lived more than an hour away reported feeling a financial strain.
It’s our job in home care to be seen as an ally on this caregiving journey, demonstrating that the benefits of our services far outweigh the costs. If a caregiver doesn’t feel she is getting what she paid for, that could compound her feelings of financial strain.
Home care reduces some of the burdens these family caregivers face. At corecubed, we help you market your homecare business more effectively to reach out to caregivers and meet their needs. We can also help with staff training, to help your business attract and retain the best and brightest so that your services are seen as a benefit, not just a cost. It’s not about lowering costs or offering the cheapest option available, but the best options and services available to assist these families where they are at, both financially and emotionally.
When it comes to your net worth as a home care agency, caregivers should be seen as your most valuable asset. They represent the heart and soul of your agency. They are the service you are selling. How they treat clients, their appearance, their timeliness and efficiency reflects back on your homecare agency. Great caregivers help grow your agency. Bad ones, poorly-trained ones, non-caring ones can sink it.
Word of mouth and referrals go a long way in this business. A bad experience with one caregiver can do more damage than great experiences with several. It’s not always the caregivers fault, and there are several things home care agencies can do to make certain caregivers join your team fully equipped to handle the challenges of working in home care. And, how the home care agency treats the caregiver, can also help create an atmosphere where a caregiver wants to shine.
The best home care agencies offer career lattices to train and retain the best caregivers, to build a strong foundation and reputation. Placing the necessary importance on caregivers as your top asset should include ongoing training as well as certification opportunities, as well as valuing caregiver input and insights gleaned from their hands-on, on-the-job experience. Being a part of the care team, and feeling like an important part of the care team is essential to having a caregiver who feels fulfilled on the job, and having a caregiver who is working FOR the agency and not just working.
For at least the last decade, the home care industry has faced a shortage of compassionate, skilled and qualified caregivers, and that shortage will continue to grow as more and more Boomers live well into old age. In some older research AARP found that by 2030, the United States will need between 5.7 million to 6.6 million caregivers. At the time that AARP Bulletin article was written in 2007, there were just 1.7 million paid caregivers, caring for 40 percent of people age 60 plus. All signs point to the finding and keeping of good caregivers as a task that will only get harder.
Again, training and retaining the best caregivers remains crucial to your bottom line. Your agency should be a human resources business first and foremost. Your agency should be in recruitment mode each and every day, and with each and every staff member. Check out the webinar on systems and methods to find and keep the best caregivers that we presented June 2 and is housed on our events page. The idea is to hone in on how to make sure your caregivers come to work every day happy, focused, and ready to represent your agency to the best of their capabilities. The Private Duty Benchmark Study declared 2015 the “Year of the Caregiver,” because of the need to target efforts on finding, hiring and retaining the best. Also, check out our Private Duty Business Manual Recruitment and Retention Module for sale on MarketHomeCare for step by step information on how to best find and keep good caregivers.
If you are really serious about being the best you can be, then you need a marketing partner who can help you market to the caregiver pool as well as the potential client and referral pool. At corecubed, our MOST program offers exclusive, members-only webcasts designed to help you grow your business, from how to apply social media to marketing your homecare business to how to train your staff. And how to keep it.