By Clare Absher RN BSN Updated: 12/28/2018 Need help finding care?
The biggest challenge of building a successful home care agency is the effective recruitment of new clients. Taking a lead from any viable source and rendering a productive client requires skill, tenacity, and creativity. Adapting successful approaches can empower your agency with the ability to grow and be prosperous. At CarePathways.com, we work with hundreds of providers. Time and time again, flourishing agencies stand out among the competition because of their proficiency at lead conversion. We recognize the value of disclosing rewarding strategies employed by leaders in the home care industry.
Are they generated by an employee, from an existing or past client, health professional, senior center, health care facility, or community resource such as a church or fraternal club? We will take a look at these potential sources below.
Referral from a past client, caregiver, friend, neighbor, or other community acquaintance:
Two words: slam dunk! Realize that word of mouth clearly offers one of the most successful outcomes for converting a lead into a client. Make certain not to squander this well-earned opportunity. Remember to be appreciative and deserving of such praise.
Referrals from other health professionals in the industry:
Instant validity is acquired when referred by health professionals. Doctors, nurses, and case managers along with hospitals, elder care homes, health departments, and senior centers are excellent sources of creditable referrals. Be gracious and thank these referral sources for their recognition of your services. A sincere note or a thoughtful gift goes a long way for showing your appreciation and fostering continued relationships.
1. Successful home care providers embrace and nurture clients in need of occasional services or low hours.
Before discounting any potential client based solely on hours consider the types of services that are requested, time intervals, and frequency. We repeatedly hear complaints from short-sighted providers about referrals for elderly clients who only need occasional transportation to a hair salon or doctor appointment, or a brief weekly housekeeping visit. It is key to understand that when seniors need aid with one activity, more often than not they will need help with other activities in the future. The nature of growing older dictates the need for additional care in order to comfortably and safely age in place. Successful agencies accept small cases for big payoffs in the future.
2. Successful home care providers are open-minded when it comes to accepting leads needing limited services.
Caregiver visits for weekly housekeeping allow for an agency to monitor a senior’s safety in their home and address the need for additional services, like meal preparation or shopping. For example, a senior may refuse personal care such as bathing due to inhibitions or denial that it is even needed. However, once trust is gained with a caregiver, the senior may become less guarded and welcome the assistance. The result may also be that an older parent is not overwhelmed by an invasion of privacy and actually looks forward to the companionship. Your patience with a referral for a hesitant senior wanting one or two services can result in a long-term client that eventually needs, and is receptive to, much more help.
3. Successful home care providers accept referrals for part-time clients despite obvious scheduling challenges.
Repeatedly, families contact our nurses requesting that an agency start slow with only a few hours of services. Support a family’s request for part-time help to enable an aging parent to get comfortable with a caregiver coming into the home. Undertaking difficult, short time intervals of service can pay off with expanded service hours that better accommodate your staff. Employing creative scheduling can lead to part-time clients coming to depend on your agency for full-time assistance.
4. Successful home care providers are quick to contact a potential client and first to establish a rapport.
Ensure your agency is first to develop a rapport and future relationship. The initial phone call to the client or family must not only be timely but also from an agency representative with excellent communication skills. Simply stated, if you are the owner and don’t possess strong verbal skills then find someone who is a good communicator. Families report numerous times that an agency owner or representative called and sadly they could not understand them. This is undoubtedly a cause for concern because families worry Mom or Dad will struggle with the same poor communication. Circumvent any possible communication barriers; we find that this specific issue is way too often a deal breaker.
5. Successful home care providers realize that family caregivers are busy and may require repeated calls.
Family caregivers are tending to their loved ones at home or even at a facility, managing family responsibilities, and additionally have work obligations. Keep in mind that, although they are actively seeking home care, they are not always free or eagerly waiting for your call. Our nurses hear from many providers that they are giving up after making a few calls over only a day or two. Our response is to leave polite messages, send emails if available, and patiently wait for a response. Be persistent yet respectful; ask when it is a good time to talk, apologize for pestering if that is a concern, and be professional at all times. Realize that it may take a week or two to make contact and arranging a home visit may take even longer.
6. Successful home care providers recognize that families may be planning ahead for services.
Turn your attention to recognizing what makes a lead viable based on when the family wants care to begin. Numerous owners of homecare agencies protest when a family is planning ahead for services and not in immediate need. Making a home assessment visit to establish a rapport is a good idea, in spite of knowing that services will not start right away. Use the time to develop a plan of care, arrange staffing, and nurture the client/family along until they are ready to begin services.
7. Successful home care providers offer free assessments to get their foot in the door.
Making a free assessment visit is a no brainer. Agencies that charge for an assessment are shooting themselves in the foot and missing out on an incalculable number of new clients. Superb communication skills are crucial by the staff making the assessment because they are the agency representative. Take care to make a superior first impression!
Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 43 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.