Home care is a relationship business. Your success depends on being in direct contact with your caregivers, clients, and families—a balancing act that requires thoughtful and often quick, real-time communication. It isn’t easy. When we speak with home care owners, one major challenge they raise is the volume of communication they need to manage and how they can handle it better.
From missed calls and clogged inboxes to hours spent hunting for the right procedure or care plan, poor communication can have a detrimental effect on your business. The result? Increased frustration, unacceptable delays in care, and high staff turnover—it’s the #1 reason caregivers quit according to a Home Care Pulse survey.
How do you fix this? What tools will enable both efficiency and effectiveness?
You might be thinking about common tools like email, phone, and texting. Each has its own merits, but they can also create silos, slow down response times, and create risk.
Let's explore the options available and the steps you can take to establish a communication plan that will drive efficiencies, remove risk, and make a positive impact on the quality of care provided.
Identifying team communication issues and goals
Before you can address team communication, you must first pinpoint when, where, and how problems tend to crop up. Here are the key steps to get started:
Audit what you do today.
Take a few minutes to dive into your current communication procedures and capture the purpose and the pros and cons. For example: How do you share sensitive or confidential information? How do caregivers contact the office, and for what purpose?
Know your audience.
Ask your caregivers about issues, ideas, and what tools they prefer to use. Hold a team meeting or use anonymized surveys to collect honest feedback. This is a great way to let your staff know their input matters and it will impact the choices you make.
Write out your communication goals.
Now that you know where your agency is at and what your caregivers struggle with, it’s time to define what great communication looks like. Here are a few examples to guide your strategy:
Responsive to needs. Will you set a turnaround time to respond to questions? Or make it clear who to ask, for what? Clear, timely communication leads to higher quality care and boosts job satisfaction.
Proactive. What are the most common questions you receive from your caregivers? Anticipating their needs, instead of reacting to them saves everyone's time and empowers your team to work like a well-oiled machine.
Risk management. Do you have specific policies and guidelines in place for communicating information on clients? Which communication channels will be used and for what purpose?
Building relationships. As we noted at the beginning of this article, home care is a relationship business. Do you want to increase team communication and collaboration and how can you do this? How are you sharing feedback with your caregivers? Positive communication that gives recognition and offers coaching helps your team become stronger, more engaged, and happier.
The pros and cons of common communication tools
We’ve selected four of the most popular communication methods used by home care agencies. Let’s see how they measure up:
||- Easy for office staff to access and use
- No extra cost
- Send anytime, day or night
|- Difficult for caregivers to use in the field
- Requires constantly checking your inbox (inefficient)
- Delay between sending an email and receiving a reply
- Easy to miss (cluttered inbox)
- Not ideal for sharing resources (not a single reference point or destination)
|- Easy for all to access and use
- Caregivers are very comfortable with it
- Send anytime, day or night
|- Not secure; not HIPAA-compliant
- Not an approved business channel; not 100% professional (no oversight)
- Group messaging requires everyone to have the same OS or app
- Possible extra cost
- Can become inefficient; difficult to scroll through old messages
|- Personal option (over others)
- Instantaneous (if other party picks up)
- Good for complex needs or conversations
|- Both parties must be free to chat (inefficient)
- No written records or logs (governance)
- Not the best option at odd or out-of-shift hours
- Primarily 1:1 only
- Not effecting for relaying information to a group
|- You may already be using it
- Many have an approved chat function
|- Built for logistics, not collaboration or relationship building
- Can be cumbersome and confusing to use
- Not all features accessible through mobile app
Some of the tools work as a band-aid solution and your team may defend them saying that's "the way it's always been done". Do they get the job done? Sometimes. Are they "good enough"? Maybe for some scenarios.
But "good enough" won't move the needle on staff retention, workplace satisfaction, or delivering exceptional care.
Optimize team communication with SparxConnect: a platform purpose-built for real-time communication and collaboration
SparxConnect offers a centralized destination that makes it easy for your office staff to open up the lines of communication with your caregivers in the field: to address questions, share updates, and ensure continuity of quality care. SparxConnect also makes it possible to provide coaching and individual support for your caregivers.
When you establish a pathway to communicate better, you not only build knowledge and skill within your team, you build relationships and trust – and a happier workforce.
“Truly if we didn't have SparxConnect, I don't know how we could offer the level of communication that we provide today.”
- Kim E., Care Manager at Right at Home Northwest Houston
About the author: Lindsay Lane
As the Vice President of Customer Value, Lindsay is responsible for all aspects of the customer journey; from the strong foundation established in business development to ensuring customers derive maximum value from their SparxConnect investment. Lindsay has a wealth of customer experience expertise that she honed at some of Canada’s most successful software companies, including BlackBerry, OpenText, Igloo Software, and Axonify.