Welcome to another article in our series on Home Care Jobs where we discuss staffing in home care beyond caregivers in your caregiver agency. Having a solid office team is critical to your agency’s success. Hiring and developing the office team with the right people in the right seats is super important. This second article in the series is devoted to Schedulers. Check out the previous article on how to hire Marketing Representatives.
One of the critical positions in any home care office is that of Scheduler. Great home care Schedulers have a knack for matching the right caregivers with each client. Schedulers are often compared to the hub of a wheel: they communicate daily with caregivers and clients. The Scheduler is often the best-known office person with your caregivers. How they interact with caregivers determines to a large extent how caregivers perceive your agency. They set the tone and translate the culture of your agency to your caregivers. In other words, a Scheduler who creates good relationships with caregivers is more likely to create positive feelings towards your agency.
We know that turnover among caregivers is very high. Turnover rate for office staff in home care is high too at about 25% according to Home Care Pulse Benchmark Study. But this average hides wide variations: office staff turnover ranges from 5% in high performing agencies (“The Masters”) and can be as high as 95% in low performing agencies. In other words, the turnover rate of your office staff is another key indicator of the health of your agency.
How Many Home Care Schedulers Do I Need for My Caregiver Agency?
Let’s unpack the numbers. An agency that staffs about 1,500 hours of care a week will have about 30 to 40 clients. That agency will also have about 50 caregivers. Managing care schedules for 40 clients and 50 caregivers is probably a good workload for one Scheduler.
As your agency grows and exceeds those numbers, it will be time to bring in a part-time Scheduler or add scheduling responsibilities to another position. It’s not unusual to have a hybrid position such as Scheduler and Office Manager for example.
What Are The Skills Required for Home Care Schedulers?
As more technology permeates home care operations, your Scheduler needs to develop deep expertise in the software used such as the scheduling software, Electronic Visit Verification (EVV), and the different communication platforms used to interact with the workforce in the field.
The best Schedulers have a good understanding of the work caregivers do for your clients. They also need to understand the different types of services your agency offers. Depending on the state in which you operate, they also need to grasp the difference between a companion, a homemaker, a Personal Care Assistant (PCA), and a Certified Nursing Aide (CNA), just to name a few.
This helps Schedulers have realistic expectations of what caregivers can accomplish with clients. This will also help the Scheduler match client and caregiver using the following criteria:
- Medical needs of the client vs. caregiver qualification – A client with dementia needs to have a caregiver with dementia care training and experience handling the more severe cases when required.
- Physical needs of the client vs. physical abilities of the caregiver – large clients needing assistance with transfer and mobility shouldn’t be matched with a petite female caregiver.
- Location of the client – How far is it for the caregiver to get to their client’s home? Is Access to public transportation a factor?
- Frequency of visits – Consider the current workload and availability of the caregiver.
- Culture – Accommodating clients’ food preferences, understanding their cultural heritage and language are so important to client satisfaction. It’s not always easy to accommodate, but when you do, clients really end up falling in love with their caregivers.
Home care Schedulers should also be trained in the following aspects of home care to improve their competency:
- How to read a care plan
- The importance of maintaining client confidentiality and protecting the privacy of caregivers when speaking with clients and families.
What Are The Soft Skills Required For Home Care Schedulers In A Caregiver Agency?
We know that a technically competent Scheduler doesn’t necessarily make a great Scheduler. Having great interpersonal skills matters just as much. The soft skills of successful Schedulers include:
- Ability to communicate clearly on the phone and in-person: Schedulers are the communication hub of your agency. They need to be good listeners and able to articulate their thoughts clearly and concisely.
- Ability to handle stress, conflict and complaints: This is a critical skill that needs to be taught. Schedulers get calls when things are not going well or when the schedule needs to be changed. Most people will either fight or flight from conflict. It takes a mindset change to move from empathy to conflict resolution.
- Time management – Multi-tasking doesn’t work. Studies have shown that the brain cannot handle multiple tasks at once. Trying to multitask is counterproductive. It’s important to encourage Schedulers to plan their day with blocks of time and task lists. Work with them review what was accomplished at the end of each day.
- Empathy – Researchers have found that empathy can be developed. It’s about understanding how others feel and being compassionate toward them. It happens when we perceive the feelings of others and try to understand why they feel that way and how we can be helpful to them, another critical skill for Schedulers.
Schedulers who are trained in those soft skills are more productive and tend to stay longer in the job because they are more successful and more satisfied.
The list of technical and soft skills should be turned into a training plan for Schedulers. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to receive this training checklist. We know training has multiple benefits from developing job expertise to feeling valued at work. The best training programs include both on-the-job training and online courses from third-party vendors.