Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Target Your Talent at a Narrow Market Niche

By Stephen Tweed

What's your talent?  What are you better at than anyone else?  What are you passionate about that makes you distinctive?

Last Friday evening, Elizabeth and I went to hear the Louisville Symphony Orchestra play George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  It was a fabulous performance and a wonderful way to relax and enjoy some time together after a very busy week.  And we were mesmerized by the performance of the pianist, Kevin Cole.  Kevin is an award winning musical director, arranger, composer, and vocalist who has garnered the praises of Irving Berlin, Marvin Hamlisch, Stephen Sondheim, and the family of George Gershwin.

Despite his amazing musical talent, he's like a lot of other pianists out there. Except for one thing. His focus.  Kevin has spent his musical career studying the works of George Gershwin, and in particular his world renowned piece, Rhapsody in Blue.  Howard Reich, the arts critic at the Chicago Tribune says of Kevin, "When Cole sits down at the piano, you would swear Gershwin himself is at work ... Cole stands as the best Gershwin pianist in America today."

As we sat enjoying the concert, Elizabeth leaned over and whispered, "There's a newsletter article for you."  And she's right.  What a lesson we all can learn from this young man who has focused his amazing talent on becoming the best in the country, and maybe in the world at doing one thing ... Playing Gershwin on the piano.

What's Your One Thing?

As we begin to apply this lesson to our roles as leaders in home care, what can we learn and apply?  What can you learn about being the best in the world at one thing?

First, it begins with talent. What is your greatest talent as a business leader?  What's the one part of your job that you do better than anyone else?  What's your one greatest strength?

In his best selling business book, First Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and his co-author Curt Coffman say that "talent is a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied."

The key here is the word recurring.  Your talents are the behaviors you find yourself doing most often.

Buckingham and Coffman also say that "the key to excellent performance is finding the match between your talents and your role ... every role performed at excellence requires talent.  Every role performed at excellence requires certain recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior."  

At Caregiver Quality Assurance®, we are studying the recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that make up talent in various jobs in home care.  By defining the roles of your caregivers, your schedulers, or your sales people, you can then measure their patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior to see which candidate has the talent that is the best fit for the job you have at hand.

Once you have found the talent, then it's a matter of focusing that talent on a narrow niche of potential clients in order to be the best in the world, or at least the best in your local market, at providing care for those clients and families. 

For more information on how you can measure the patterns of thought, attitudes, and behaviors of potential caregivers or office staff, take a few minutes to visit Caregiver Quality Assurance.  Then click on the link for a FREE Demonstration of the CQA Pre-employment Assessment. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What does your IDEAL Applicant Tracking System look like?

For many companies the process of tracking job candidates is one of the most tedious, time consuming aspects of recruiting and hiring caregivers. Someone has to review all those applications to find a few qualified candidates, then contact them by phone or email to schedule an interview and send an assessment link. 

What if that entire process could be handled online with your team receiving applications only for those that meet your pre-set qualifications? Just imagine what your team can do with all that extra time.

What is your current application process?  Do you use paper applications or can applicants apply online? Is your online application part of an applicant tracking system (ATS)?

We’re interested in how you track, and respond to, your applicants. Many companies still use paper applications while others use a detailed online application that is part of an ATS that screens applicants based on pre-determined parameters.  Sounds good doesn’t it?

In an effort to find solutions to help you save time and money Leading Home Care and Caregiver Quality Assurance are asking for your help. We have created a short survey we’d like you to complete.  It's only seven questions.  Your answers will help us understand the issues you face when screening applicants. In turn, we’ll do the research to find the companies that offer an applicant tracking systems and other tools with the features that are important to you. 

Here's the link.  Please complete the survey.   



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Get the Best and Avoid the Rest

By Stephen Tweed

That's the basic premise of Caregiver Quality.  "Get the Best and Avoid the Rest."  That also happens to be the sub title of a terrific book by my friend and professional speaking colleague, Cathy Fyock.  Cathy is a nationally known expert on human resources issues, and is a frequent speaker for SHRM - The Society of Human Resource Managers.

Cathy's book is called "The Truth About Hiring the Best:  Get the Best and Avoid the Rest."  The concept fits well with our ongoing conversation about creating competitive advantage in home care through caregiver quality.  The 2013 Private Duty Benchmarking Study showed that the number one source of differentiation in home care is caregiver quality.

Tips on Hiring the Best

Let's take a quick tour through Cathy's book and look at her top tips.
  • You are a seller in a buyer's market - The best people are already happily working for someone else.  It's far better to attract the folks who are loyal to their employers, have excellent work habits, and love their work.
  • Your actions speak louder than words - If you can't be the employer the keeps workers, you can't be the employer that attracts top notch applicants.  What's your turnover rate?  (The average in home care is 52.6%)
  • Targeting everybody attracts nobody - Your approach should be to aim very specifically at one narrow niche audience to get the best responses.  If you are dissatisfied with the caliber of candidates, analyze your focus.  
  • You are a talent scout - If you are going to get the best talent you constantly need to be looking for high performers.
  • Use the enthused - Ask your current enthusiastic employees who they know.  Ask new employees who the best and brightest are at their former company.  
  • Your invitation might be chasing applicants away -  The message, "Help Wanted" is pretty desperate sounding and not likely to draw in lots of wish-list candidates.  Create an invitation that appeals to the kind of employee you want in your company. 
  • Ask what they WILL do, not what they CAN do. - We know that just because a candidate can do the job doesn't mean she will.  
There are 53 Truths in Cathy's book, and many of them will help you think through your recruiting and selection process.  If you'd like a copy, just visit The Truth About Hiring the Best.  

You'll find this book is a real complement to our best selling home care eBook, "Get the Best: Nine Steps to Hiring High Quality Caregivers and Improving your Bottom Line" by Leigh Davis and Stephen Tweed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What Caregivers Need to Know ... to provide specialized programs

One of the ways you can create competitive advantage in private duty home care is to create one or more specialty programs focused on providing services to clients with a specific chronic condition.  For example, several weeks ago we presented a live web conference with Katherine Autin on "Building a Specialty Program to Serve Patients with Parkinson's".  In that program, Katherine talked about the things a caregiver needs to know about the disease, and about the clients.

Now, we want to look deeper into what your caregivers need to know, and how you can train them to provide these specialized services.  By providing training for your caregivers and then building that training into the plan of care for clients with specific chronic conditions, you can have meaningful conversations with referral sources about what makes you different.

For example, one new home care business owner in New England studied various chronic diseases, and concluded that persons who had experienced a stroke needed more hours of care for longer periods of time that your typical home care client.  He studied the effects of stroke on the client, including the symptoms, the treatment, and the red flags to watch for.  He created his specialty program and trained his caregivers. Then he went around to every physician, hospital discharge planner, nursing home, and rehab center that cared for stroke patients and presented his program. He immediately began getting referrals and growing his business.

What Your Caregivers Need to Know

To help you get a better idea of what your caregivers need to know in order to create and delivery a Ginny Kenyon, Founder and CEO of Kenyon Home Care Consulting to share with you her experience in training caregivers and in creating specialty home care programs.
specialty program, we're delighted to bring you

Ginny  is passionate about helping clients achieve unique success in the marketplace.  Known for her ability to produce substantial results in a short period of time, her keen understanding of the home care industry allows clients to develop and implement long-term solutions that fit organizational needs and expectations.  She holds a Masters in Nursing Administration with minors in Business and Health Services and is an accomplished writer, guest speaker, and teacher.

Join us on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 4:00 PM eastern time for the Live Web Conference, "What Caregivers Need to Know to Provide Disease Specific Programs and Services".

This program is free to members of the Caregiver Quality Assurance® program and to Premium Members of The Academy for Private Duty Home Care®.  You will receive an invitation to the web conference in your email.

If you are not a member of CQA or The Academy, you can register online.  

The Perfect Storm Hits Private Duty Caregivers

By Stephen Tweed

Imagine being a caregiver working for a private duty home care company today.  You're out there in the ocean as three major storms come together and the waves are crashing over you.  (Did you see the movie The Perfect Storm with George Clooney?)

The first storm is Health Care Reform, or "Obamacare".  Effective yesterday, October 1, 2013, caregivers could begin signing up to buy health insurance for their state health insurance exchange.  They must purchase health insurance by January 1, 2014 or pay a penalty.

The second storm is the US Department of Labor ruling that wipes out the federal companionship exemption for minimum wage and overtime.  That means that caregivers who were working more than 40 hours a week at straight time will be cut back to 40 hours because neither private payers or Medicaid will pay the overtime rate, so home care companies will limit their workers' hours.

The third storm is again part of "Obamacare".  The employer mandate which goes in to effect on January 1, 2015 requires employer with over 50 FTE employees must provide a health insurance plan for every employee who works 30 hours a week or more.  While there is much discussion about how companies will deal with this requirement, 20% of private duty companies said they will keep the majority of their employees under 30 hours per week. 

It's Hard Enough to be a Caregiver without all this!

You know how hard it is to be a caregiver.  Well, maybe you don't really know unless you've actually worked as a caregiver for three months or more.  My wife and I were the primary caregivers for our son, Jason, from the time he was born until he went off to college 17 years later.  But I can't say I really know what it's like to live the life of a private duty caregiver who works for $10.00 per hour with few benefits, no vacation, and no insurance.  But I can imagine.  So can you.

While you are struggling to figure out how these three storms will affect your home care business, I believe you also need to be putting some attention on the future of recruiting, selecting, training, and retaining caregivers.  As the economy gradually improves, we will find that the caregiver shortage that we saw in 2006 and 2007 will return.  Already, I'm hearing from owners who are finding that the biggest barrier to growing their business is finding enough high quality caregivers to meet the growing demand.  And caregiver turnover peaked last year at 52.6% according to the 2013 Private Duty Benchmarking Study. 

Caregiver Quality is your Number 1 source of Competitive Advantage

While our caregivers are going through their own perfect storm, and you are beginning to see a shortage of
caregivers affecting our ability to grow, the benchmarking study shows that the number one source of differentiation in home care is "Caregiver Quality".  More owners see this as their number way to distinguish their company from their competitors.

That means you have a huge opportunity to refocus your process for recruiting, selecting, training, and retaining caregivers for the future.

Last week, I was at the Home Care Association of America conference in Scottsdale, Arizona and I had three significant conversations with company owners that will change the face of Caregiver Quality Assurance®.   One was a new process for recruiting large numbers of high quality CNAs to serve as personal caregivers in your agency.  The second is a wonderful process for providing online training for caregivers that can help you create unique specialty programs in your agency.  The third was some new ideas for providing tangible recognition and reward to your caregivers for doing the right thing, and this can be huge in improving retention and reducing turnover.

Stay tuned for more new developments in finding the caregivers you need to grow. We will get through the perfect storm, and when the weather clears we hope you will be ready to take advantage of the huge opportunities out there to grow your business and get ready for the future.