Creative Incentives to Find – and Keep – Caregivers

Get ready, America: the AARP is predicting a disturbingly imbalanced ratio of family caregivers to those who need care within just a few short years. By 2020, the estimated number of seniors needing care will hit nearly 117 million, while those willing loved ones available to care for them caps off at around 45 million. So what’s to become of those other unlucky 72 million seniors?

One thing we can be sure of – those with the means to do so will be turning to in-home care agencies in droves; which presents a vast opportunity for industry growth. However, the “product” of an in-home care agency is the direct care provider in the home. So, to keep up with the pace of demand, an agency has to hire and retain enough high-quality caregivers so the service maintains its standards while meeting needs.

With so much competition already in place today for the best caregivers, what can an agency do to make sure they’re fully staffed and ready for the silver tsunami just over the horizon?

Successful agencies know it requires a lot more than a paycheck to attract the cream of the caregiver crop. In addition to making the caregiver a part of the care team, so she feels valuable to the business, some other creative and unique perks just for caregivers may quickly become more crucial than ever. Consider, for example, some of these creative offerings:

  • Transportation at the click of a button. One agency, a location for a large home health business, has added a link for an Uber ride to their website for applicants, complemented with interview tips and other branded, relevant information they can review on the way.
  • Opportunities for real growth. Many home care agencies offer in-services and training to equip their caregivers, but consider offering differentiating levels of job titles and corresponding pay scales to encourage caregivers to continue to grow and enhance longevity.
  • Reward the best. Everyone needs to feel appreciated, and rewarding caregivers who go above and beyond with monetary bonuses, gift cards, paid time off, and recognition in your monthly newsletter gives caregivers something to strive for.
  • Reciprocal care. While your employees are caring for your senior clients, how about offering free (or reduced cost) on-site daycare services for their children?
  • Meeting all of a senior’s care needs can deplete even the perkiest caregiver’s energy reserves. Consider hiring a masseuse, manicurist, hair stylist, yoga instructor, etc. to visit the office once a month and invite caregivers to stop by after their shifts to receive a little care for themselves.

Surveying current caregivers to gauge their contentment level is a great place to start today. What do they like best about their jobs? Worst? What would they like to see changed? What kinds of incentives would encourage them to remain with your agency over a move elsewhere? Then brainstorm with your management team to come up with creative ways to implement.

In the day when I ran my own aging care business, my caregivers expressed a desire to have a fashion show evening, complete with dinner and dancing afterwards. They modeled appropriate work attire, then put on their fanciest best and modeled that. It was so rewarding for all. The hard part was covering the jobs which meant that many could not attend. But, we did it several years in a row so most everyone got to attend at least one.

Letting your staff know what a valued part of the team they are increases your likelihood of keeping them on board for the long term, while attracting new caregivers to your agency over the competition. And a little creativity plus listening to what they want and giving it to them can go a long way towards achieving that goal.