If the home care staffing shortage is a problem from coast to coast, it is a disaster on the coasts themselves, or wherever the cost of living is well above the national average. In California's Bay Area, some in-home care workers commute an hour or more from their relatively affordable neighborhoods to the homes of patients and clients in the cities and suburbs around "the San's:" Jose, Francisco and Rafael.
It was not this extreme when Lucy Andrews, PhD, founded her northern California private duty home care agency, At Your Service, in 2003. With the expanding and aging California population, however, and as housing costs began to soar during the economic recovery that began to take hold in 2010, recruiting and retaining in-home care workers became more and more of a challenge. After successful efforts to create an attractive, positive employment experience mitigated but did not solve the problem, Dr. Andrews investigated other solutions. After a great deal of research, Dr. Andrews decided to enter into a strategic partnership with Honor.
"I tried everything to attract and retain in-home workers," she told us. "We were doing a good job but it still wasn't enough. We had one of the highest percentages in our area of people who were with us for ten years or more. That speaks to our commitment to our people and our clients but, even with loyalty and longevity, we still stopped growing. We turned people away when we couldn't staff a new case. It seemed we were always playing catch up."
In an Honor partnership, the San Francisco-based company takes over management of an agency's office and field staff, leaving agency owners free to focus on business development. Partnering with a number of agencies in a market area gives Honor the ability to load balance staffing, serve more clients and keep caregiver schedules filled.
"I started to look at the disruptors out there," she continued. "Disruption brings about change and I have always thought of myself as one who seeks change." She said she had watched Honor over the years and finally began to believe a partner like that might be what was needed to allow her agency to grow again. Honor brings to the partnership a full complement of technology for agency management, personnel scheduling, payroll and billing, a level of sophistication At Your Service did not have and was not likely to develop on its own.
Though implementation of the Honor staffing system began only recently, Dr. Andrews said At Your Service has already been able to say 'yes' to more clients. "We have the capacity to fill hard-to-fill shifts," she said.
With the time and resources the Honor partnership affords her, Dr. Andrews plans to devote more time to her first passion. Her doctorate in Nursing Practice with Specialty in Dementia has taken a back seat to running an agency for the last 16 years but she is happy for the opportunity to dust it off and provide workshops and coaching to dementia patients and their families. She wants to add a dementia specialty to At Your Service as well.
"We’re excited that Dr. Andrews is partnering with us to transform non-medical in-home care for the growing number of older adults who want to age in place," said Nita Sommers, president of Honor. "The home care expertise that Lucy brings, along with her vast experience advocating at both the state and national level, will have a positive impact on our ability to help more agency owners. It's great to partner with industry innovators such as Lucy who share our vision for creating a quality caregiver workforce and experience for both clients and caregivers alike."
Since its inception in 2003, At Your Service Home Care is the North Bay's premier non-medical home care agency providing care in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin counties. In addition to providing home care services to help older adults maintain independent living, the agency also provides specialized services such as dementia and Alzheimer's care, hospice, and respite care. Dr. Andrews continues to maintain the home health agency that provides case management and concierge nursing services.
Honor is changing the way we care for our parents. Founded in 2014, the San Francisco–based company brings workforce management and technology expertise together with high-touch, personalized care to improve the in-home care experience. Since launching the Honor Care Network in 2017, Honor has partnered with a growing roster of independently owned home care agencies to deliver reliable, transparent, and high-quality care. The Honor Care Network currently provides non-medical home care services to families in more than 800 cities and towns across California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, and Michigan.
©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org