Getting Better Takes Commitment

The title of this post can mean a lot of things. If we are ill, we have to commit to getting better, being compliant with medications and clinicians guidance, making the effort. If we are golfers, it means beating balls, intelligently, with discipline, not just going to the course and hoping to play well. For businesses, like Support For Home(r) In-Home Care, it means learning where we are strong and where we are weaker, and making an all-out commitment to improving our performance, both for our clients and our employees.

To actually get better, we have to start by learning “where we are.” To do that, one of the tools Support For Home uses is HomeCarePulse(r). That firm interviews 10% of our clients and 10% of our Home Care Aides each month and generates a report of the results, including how we measure up against the rest of the home care industry.

The administrative staff just spent time going over our January report this morning, and we learned a lot. We are happy to share some of the “ah ha!” items with you. We encourage everyone in the elder care industry to take a look at themselves, in the mirror, the way we are, and make a commitment to get better.

Part of our commitment is to be significantly better than the industry average for home care agencies; in fact, to be better than the average for the best. In some areas, we are there. In others, we have work to do.

One value that we have held since day one of Support For Home is transparency. We do not hide what we do or how we do it or how much we pay or how much we charge. We also have no issue sharing where we are on the road to getting better.

201601 HCP Client Satisfaction

201601 HCP HCA Satisfaction

In the two charts, above, the solid line is the industry average for each item. Where our bar exceeds it, we are doing okay, but we will be identifying the priorities for getting better. Where we do not reach the industry average, we have a red alert in place to figure out what we need to do. You can click on each chart to open it up for better viewing.

So, what is our first red alert item, for clients? You will see a question about whether Support For Home is a “recommended provider” by the client. For January, our results, with the exception of one client, was 9.6 out of 10. For one client, the number was 1.0. Wow! What in the heck did we do wrong?

Luckily, the client in question tells us, in the survey, exactly what we did wrong: “They take at least sixty percent cut out of what we pay.” In other words, this client thinks that, after we pay the caregiver, we are walking away with a 60% profit margin. Well, I can tell you, I have not seen any margins like that since I retired from Intel Corp. 🙂

What is the truth? After hourly wages and other personnel expenses (OPE) for our Home Care Aides, Support For Home has a gross margin of 42% to 43.9%, not 60%. Out of that comes the rest of the expenses of the business:

Expenses Chart of Accounts

Providing home care with all of the protections and assurances for quality and reliability that a good agency wants to guarantee, with clients and their families bearing the cost through private funds (no support from Medicare or health insurance companies), makes home care a pretty low margin business. I wish we were doing a better job – at Support For Home and across the industry – of communicating that fact to clients, families, caregivers and government. Our clients deserve some help from healthcare payers, and our caregivers deserve to make more money.

I will be talking more about our results and what we are doing about it in future posts.

Best wishes. Bert

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