With a platform model of business, like Home Care Direct, we are beholden to two parties, our providers, the carers and our purchasers the clients.
We talk quite a bit about the advantages our platform confers on carers as compared to working with a traditional agency. The control over pricing and availability, the ownership of their work and the satisfaction of working for themselves.
However, does this chime with what families are looking for from their care and support?
In order to find out, we carried out a small survey with families who are receiving or have received home care, to see what was important to them when receiving home care provision for their loved ones? We wanted to assure ourselves that the aims and desires of the people on both sides of our platform were aligned.
The results of our survey gave the following principle points of importance that our clients valued or were looking for, in their home care provision;
- Having a carer who is happy in their job and empathetic
- Trusting relationship with their carer
- Having the same carer as much as possible
- Having a carer who lives nearby
- Getting good value for money
- Good communication
- Having good office back up
Not so surprisingly, what jumped out first was the fact that the critical relationship was between the family and the carer rather than any relationship with an intermediary or outside organisation. The top 4 areas of importance, were direct carer related issues which would seem to emphasise the importance of shortening the distance between clients and the source of support, their carers, as much as possible.
Point six on the list referring to good communication is also connected to this, as when a family is communicating directly with a carer, there is less chance of messages and instructions getting lost amongst teams and offices.
The whole point of our platform is to remove unnecessary middlemen and enable great carers to work directly with families where appropriate. There is a role for agencies but only where they are delivering genuine added value.
In Home Care Direct, we are fond of saying that the two most important pillars of quality home care are a happy motivated carer and continuity. Everything after that is secondary. Well those two points of carers being happy and having the same carer all the time, came out first and third respectively on the families wish list!
The point is often made that care delivered through a platform isn’t the same quality as that delivered by agencies who do assessments and supervisions. However, this simplistic view firstly underestimates the capabilities of many experienced carers and secondly, also ignores the fact that supervisions are generally rendered useless when they are done on different carers every time because of extremely high turnover rates within the sector. Turnover rates on our platform are negligible.
The first point of wanting carers to be happy, is especially interesting, because it shows that families understand the connection between carers being properly rewarded and getting quality care. Its not to say the two issues are completely mutually inclusive, but families understand they have a better chance of getting a proactive and committed carer, if the carer is getting the rewards they deserve.
On our platform, carers in setting their own rates in conjunction with families, decide themselves what their work is worth not an employer. This way families can be assured the carer is properly motivated.
The fourth point on the list, further shows the sophistication of families in understanding what contributes to great outcomes for their loved ones. Here, they are highlighting the importance of care being sustainable. If a carer is working near where they live, it is easier and more comfortable for them as compared to carers being often rostered in an illogical manner over a large geographical area by agencies.
On our platform, our algorithms promote sustainable care by encouraging families to work with carers close to them.
This also has a really positive impact on overall care capacity. Traditionally you could have 3 different agencies delivering care on the same road with different teams of carers. Our platform works to eliminate this, by facilitating a much smaller number of carers to deliver care on that road.
Point five relates to the cost of care. Home care is an expensive service for both families and the State. For families the issue is quite far down their list but I suspect if we carried out a similar survey with the HSE it would be much higher on their list.
The role our platform plays regarding cost is that it provides choice and avoids the present situation whereby families are forced to use home care packages with agencies who are necessarily more expensive but whose level of service isn’t always needed. Why pay for a level of service if its not needed and who better to decide what level of service is needed than families themselves?
Also, in relation to cost, an interesting aside that we have noticed is the conditioning of carers to undervalue themselves under traditional structures. On our platform carers often come to us for advice on what they should charge, as in many cases they are used to receiving wages barely above the minimum wage as employees and as such, are afraid to charge what their work is really worth. We say to them, that if agencies are charging anything between €25 and €28 an hour, them charging €21 an hour is great value for families and the State!
At Home Care Direct our whole ethos is to try and deliver as many of these points highlighted by families as possible, by empowering and enabling great carers to work directly with families and get the rewards and satisfaction, they so richly deserve. By doing this we are aligning the wishes of carers and families.