Why Policies Will Never Trump Mission in Creating Quality Home Health Care
Customer service is probably a bit of a buzz word in many industries, with various degrees of successful implementation. In a personal service industry such as home health care/senior home care, customer service should be the primary focus of any organization. However, in-home health care is also a complex service to deliver with a wide array of factors impacting the customer experience. Just think about the variation in service scenarios a home health agency might be providing in a given week:
- The home healthcare company receives an emergency call from a family in crisis: Dad is in the hospital and experiencing delirium and sundowner’s syndrome symptoms. They need to get a caregiver (or hospital sitter) to the hospital as soon as possible to stay with Dad.
- A long-time home health care client has a fall over night when she does not have help. She goes to the hospital but is not seriously injured so returns home, but she brings in help at night now. She is not happy to have people staying with her at night.
- A very confused elder gentleman has caregivers assist him every day. He often forgets, though, and refuses to let them in the door. He also sometimes gets angry that they are in his home and yells at them.
- The client’s family calls the home health agency very upset because Mom says her caregiver has not been there recently. Until this point, Mom had mild confusion but generally remembered things like this–but after some checking, it becomes apparent the caregivers were present and Mom is getting more confused.
Our sub-heading reads “why policies will never trump mission in creating quality home health care”. What do we mean by this? As you can see, in home health care there are a wide variety of circumstances that occur every day. Some clients are in crisis, some families are torn apart by conflict, some elder clients have memory issues or serious physical problems and each situation requires a unique care plan and handling. No amount of policies or procedures will ever cover all the circumstance that arise and the solutions are not “one size fits all”.
For this reason, we believe at EasyLiving that it is essential to be driven by our mission and to look at each situation through the lens of that mission. When something comes up that is out of the ordinary or we’re dealing with a customer or employee concern, we need to revisit our mission to decide how to handle the situation. This is a message we try to instill in our whole management team, providing them the freedom to handle customer service issues and “make things right”.
And, in home health care, your customers are: your clients, their family members and other responsible parties, professionals who refer to you and those who make up the care team (attorneys, trust officers, doctors, physical therapists, Medicare home health staff and many more) and your caregivers. The same philosophy must apply to all those customer groups.
For example, consider the scenario where a caregiver cancels at the last minute or does not show up for a shift. We do everything to prevent this, but the reality is that it does sometimes happen. When it does, of course we do not charge the client for the shift and work to address the problem moving forward. We may do something like offer the next shift free of charge as well. So, how might this apply if, for example, the opposite occurs? A client neglects to tell us that they have made an appointment or alternative plans and when the caregiver shows up the client is not there or says the caregiver is not needed. The way we look at this scenario at EasyLiving is that we have to treat the caregiver, also our “customer”, with the same respect we would treat a client or family. The caregiver has driven out to the client and planned their schedule accordingly (and perhaps given up other work opportunities). So, we feel we should pay the caregiver even though the client will not be paying for the time.
If you are considering hiring in-home healthcare/senior care for a loved one, we recommend you talk to the company about their mission and get a feel for how they operate. Of course, you may be getting a “sales pitch” and not every company will live up to what they promise initially, but you can often get a good feel for how and why they do business. Here are a few pointers and questions that may help:
- Ask what their home healthcare mission is and what it means to them; what is it they feel they do differently?
- Find out how they handle problems or concerns. Ask them to give you an example or two of something that didn’t go right and how the resolved it. If they say they never have a problem, think twice.
- How much do they listen to your story and ask you about your loved one and the situation?
- What procedures and tools do they use to try to provide personalized, consistent care? How do they know if their caregivers are doing a good job and clients are satisfied?
Would you like to learn more about EasyLiving’s quality home health program? Have an eldercare question and need answers and resources? We’re here to help at 727-447-5845 or just click below for help today: