March 27, 2024

How leading agencies achieve efficiency

Table of contents

In the challenging landscape of domiciliary care, where the well-being of care recipients hinges on the efficiency of care provision, some agencies stand out. These leading agencies have all embraced the idea of efficiency - delivering high-quality care while optimising their operations. If you're an owner or manager of a domiciliary care agency, you may wonder, "How do they do it?"

This article delves into the strategies employed by top agencies, offering actionable insights for enhancing efficiency in your own care services.

Streamlining scheduling for maximum efficiency

Efficient scheduling lies at the heart of delivering domiciliary care that is both cost-effective and responsive to care recipient needs. Leading agencies recognise that minimising travel time and ensuring care professionals are where they are needed most is paramount.

"At CareAtHome Ltd, we've embraced digital scheduling tools that allow us to optimise staff schedules with precision," says Jane Smith, Director of CareAtHome Ltd. "Our software factors in variables like travel distances, care recipient requirements, and staff availability, reducing unnecessary travel costs and ensuring care professionals spend more time providing care than commuting."

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Evaluate your current scheduling process to identify inefficiencies.
    • Start by gathering data on past schedules, including travel times and care professional assignments.
    • Analyse this data to pinpoint areas where time and resources may be wasted, such as excessive travel or overlapping assignments.
    • Consider seeking feedback from care professionals about scheduling challenges they face.
  2. Implement a digital scheduling system that considers travel time and minimises commutes.
    • Research and select a digital scheduling tool designed for domiciliary care agencies - even better if the rostering is already part of a wider care management platform, as you can keep everything in one place.
    • Train your staff on how to use the chosen scheduling software effectively. A good digital solution will have lots of options for training teams, including an academy or regular webinars, so make sure to factor this into your choice.
    • Input data about care recipients, care professional availability, and geographic locations into the system.
    • Utilise the software to generate optimised schedules that minimise travel time and commute distances.
  3. Train your staff on how to use the new digital scheduling tools effectively.
    • Make sure to receive and provide comprehensive training sessions for all care professionals and schedulers who will use the digital tool. This step is crucial to ensuring success!
    • Offer ongoing support and resources for staff to improve their proficiency with the scheduling software.
    • Create simple to understand user guides or manuals for reference - even better, ask the software provider for these.
  4. Monitor and adjust schedules regularly to ensure optimal efficiency.
    • Establish a system for regularly reviewing and fine-tuning schedules based on performance data and feedback.
    • Continuously track travel times, commute distances, and care professional workloads.
    • Encourage open communication with care professionals to identify and address scheduling challenges.

Nurturing talent for outstanding care

Domiciliary care agencies can only be as good as their care professionals. Leading agencies, such as Reed, invest significantly in staff training and development to ensure their care professionals are well-equipped to provide exceptional care.

We prioritise our team, and provide comprehensive training that helps them reach their potential and support all our clients. We also implement an intelligent platform for home care that helps them grow as well – the system we’re using empowers staff to fulfil their roles and duties, records are ‘live’ so we keep the service safe, and the app and desktop hub is so intuitive.” Managing Director at Leonie Goldson, Reed

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Review your current staff training programs and identify areas for improvement.
    • Conduct an audit of your existing training materials and methods.
    • Identify gaps or areas where training could be enhanced, such as soft skills development.
  2. Develop comprehensive training programs covering technical and soft skills.
    • Design training modules that encompass technical aspects of care provision, including medication management and personal care.
    • Incorporate soft skills training, focusing on communication, empathy, and interpersonal skills.
  3. Create a supportive work environment that encourages staff feedback and professional development.
    • Establish an open-door policy where care professionals can express their ideas and concerns.
    • Encourage regular feedback sessions between managers and care professionals.
    • Provide opportunities for career growth and advancement within the agency.
  4. Implement a mentorship program for new care professionals to learn from experienced colleagues.
    • Pair experienced care professionals with newcomers to provide guidance and support.
    • Set up regular mentorship meetings where knowledge and best practices are shared.
    • Monitor and assess the mentorship program's effectiveness and make improvements as needed.

Maintaining excellence through compliance

In domiciliary care, compliance and quality assurance are non-negotiable aspects of maintaining a reputable agency. Leading agencies like Walfinch excel in this regard, ensuring they meet the highest standards of care.

Our software is absolutely brilliant for monitoring how well you’re doing, especially in regards to the CQC. It’s just so good to have everything in one place, ready-to go”, says Tiffany Meachim, Managing Director at Walfinch Mansfield. “We use it every day, and it makes keeping compliant simple. No more manual audits!

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Regularly review and update your agency's policies to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
    • Assign responsibility for policy review and updates to a compliance officer or team.
    • Keep a record of regulatory changes and ensure policies reflect these updates.
    • Conduct quarterly or annual policy reviews to verify compliance.
  2. Conduct internal audits to identify areas where compliance can be improved.
    • Develop an internal audit checklist that covers key compliance areas.
    • Assign staff or compliance officers to perform regular audits.
    • Use audit findings to create action plans for addressing compliance gaps.
  3. Provide ongoing training to keep your care professionals up-to-date with the latest practices and guidelines.
    • Schedule regular training sessions on relevant regulatory changes and best practices.
    • Keep records of staff training and certifications.
    • Ensure that all care professionals understand and adhere to updated guidelines.
  4. Establish a compliance officer role responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance within your agency.
    • Appoint or hire a compliance officer with expertise in regulatory requirements.
    • Task the compliance officer with overseeing policy adherence, conducting audits, and reporting to agency leadership.
    • Empower the compliance officer to recommend corrective actions when necessary.

Placing care recipients at the core

At the heart of domiciliary care is the relationship between care professionals and care recipients. Leading agencies, such as Alina Homecare prioritise client satisfaction and engagement.

Our customer satisfaction is running at 98% - you don’t get that if you don’t get the basics right. One of the things Birdie does is it helps us to get it right every time.” James Deeley, CEO at Alina Homecare

Our care management software helps us to communicate quickly with carers and family members. You can act immediately, and do what needs to be done in that very moment. It’s amazing.” Monica, Care Professional at Alina Homecare.

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Develop a system for gathering and documenting client feedback regularly.
    • Create a standardized process for soliciting feedback from care recipients and their families.
    • Utilize digital tools, like online surveys, to collect feedback efficiently.
  2. Implement regular satisfaction surveys to gauge client satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
    • Design satisfaction surveys that capture essential aspects of care quality.
    • Administer surveys at regular intervals, such as quarterly or annually.
    • Analyze survey results and prioritize areas for improvement based on feedback.
  3. Create open communication channels for care recipients to express their needs, preferences, and concerns.
    • Establish accessible communication channels, such as dedicated phone lines or email addresses.
    • Encourage care recipients to reach out with any questions or concerns.
    • Train care professionals to actively listen and address care recipient feedback during visits.
  4. Encourage your care professionals to build strong relationships with care recipients based on trust and empathy.
    • Include relationship-building training as part of your care professional training programs.
    • Recognise and reward care professionals who excel in building strong client relationships.
    • Monitor care recipient feedback to identify care professionals who may need additional support in this area.

Birdie caught up with Andy from Helping at Home, to hear how he and the team are growing a sustainable and successful care business out in Nottinghamshire. Article continues below.

Harnessing technology for efficiency

In today's digital age, technology plays a pivotal role in the efficiency of care delivery. Leading agencies like Helping at Home have embraced digital solutions to streamline operations and enhance care quality.

The more trust we put in the information our software partner provides us, the better decisions we can make as a team. Given that the decisions we make impact real people, and the quality of care they receive, it's super important that we got that care management system right.” Andy Griffin, Managing Director at Helping at Home.

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Explore different digital tools and platforms designed for domiciliary care agencies.
    • Research and identify digital solutions tailored to the needs of domiciliary care - and your business specifically.
    • Consider platforms like Birdie, which offer an intelligent platform for homecare (and a friendly support team to help you get the most out of it!)
  2. Choose and implement intelligent care management software to streamline operations.
    • Select a care management software that aligns with your agency's specific requirements.
    • Provide training to your staff on how to use the chosen software effectively - or even better, a good platform provider will have all this training set up and ready to go for you and your team.
  3. Integrate electronic health records for accurate and efficient record-keeping.
    • Choose a system that is compliant and approved by healthcare regulators. This approved supplier list is a great place to start.
    • Ensure that care professionals can easily access and update this during visits - look for a mobile app that is easy to use and seamlessly links to the care management platform that the office team use.
  4. Train your staff on how to use these digital tools effectively to improve efficiency and care quality.
    • Make the most of your chosen providers training resources - they are there to help you get the most out of the platform.
    • Offer comprehensive training sessions on each digital tool's features and functionalities.
    • Provide ongoing support and resources for staff to become proficient with digital tools.

In conclusion, leading domiciliary care agencies achieve efficiency through a combination of strategic scheduling, staff training, compliance maintenance, client-centric care, and the integration of digital tools. Don't wait and watch others get ahead; the efficiency clock is ticking, and every day counts in the world of domiciliary care.

Want to read more on this? Click the button below to read our article ‘How to know if your agency is inefficient’.

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