A 25th anniversary is a sign of success for most companies. It’s something to be proud of, a signal that things have gone well thus far.
For Jewish News columnist Bob Roth, managing partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions, it only made him think about the future.
“We just celebrated our 25th anniversary, and I’m looking into the next 25 years and saying to myself, ‘How do I remain relevant? How do we differentiate and be able to continue to care for this population?’”
That kind of forward-thinking has been a hallmark of Cypress’ success. Roth has always approached the caregiving industry with innovation in mind. “We introduced a caregiver training lab 15 years ago. We were the first that I’m aware of, in the entire country, to do that,” he said.
Cypress’ novel approach to employee preparation garnered the company awards and positive attention. But that was the past, and with eyes on the future, Roth is doing something unprecedented. That award-winning training program? Gone. The direct care employees who Cypress sends into homes to assist clients? They’re gone, too.
Cypress, like most caregiving agencies, relied on direct care workers to go into clients’ homes and assist them as needed. But new reports about the industry were concerning to Roth.
“Our state, the statistics are pretty daunting. The Arizona Department of Health Services has published information that the group of people 65 and older is going to increase 174%, from 880,000 in 2010 to 2.5 million in 2050.”
As the demand grows, however, the supply is decreasing. “In Arizona, between 2016 and 2017, it was the first year that Arizona declined in direct care workers,” Roth said. “We went down almost 1,600 workers. We’re experiencing a workforce shortage.”
Cypress, for all its success, was no exception. Roth knew his biggest challenge moving forward would be staffing.
Enter Honor, a home care company that runs Honor Care Network, a national network that allows home care agencies to share employees. Once Roth was confident that this could be a solution to his workforce shortage, Cypress became Honor’s newest partner.
Honor took over the recruitment, hiring and training of direct care employees — Honor calls them Care Pros — for Cypress. The caregivers Cypress had on payroll were let go and re-hired by Honor. “They’re paying them nicely, and giving them opportunities to have 401ks and encouraging career lattices,” Roth said.
Other agencies that follow suit will tap into this same large pool of active caregivers, providing much-needed relief in an industry that struggles with retention and turnover.
“By sharing a caregiver pool across multiple agencies in a given geographic region,” explained Jessica Gilmartin, Honor’s chief marketing officer, “we’re able to give caregivers access to steady work that allows them to stay in the career they love.”
Honor also uses technology to streamline the caregiving process. Gone are the days when bundles of paperwork were kept in locked cabinets and employees had to drive to a remote office to review their clients’ needs. Honor uses a secure app to allow the natural supports of clients and the employees who work with them to see critical information and updates.
“Our app provides detailed instructions to Care Pros about their clients and expectations for their upcoming visits,” Gilmartin said. “Then, at the end of each visit, our Care Pro uses the app to leave behind care notes, which are immediately emailed to the client’s approved account members. This provides immense peace of mind to our clients’ loved ones.”
The app also utilizes location-tracking to see if employees are close enough to client homes to make it to their shift on time. 30 minutes before a shift starts location-tracking turns on, and if the app registers that a caregiver is likely to be late then it will notify Honor immediately so a replacement employee can be sent out. According to Gilmartin, this means that Honor’s rate of late arrivals or no-shows is exceedingly low, in stark contrast to industry standards.
Roth believes that taking the employment portion of the workload away from Cypress allows his company to spend more time on the client interaction side of things.
“I really enjoy what I do, being able to help families,” he said. “And I get to be more available to my clients now. I get to be a resource to help them through the journey of their loved ones. As they get increasing needs, they can get good direction from me.” JN