Technology to Scale Home Care Growth


Technology to Scale Home Care Growth

Insights from Eziplan

 

Introduction

This article addresses the challenges of the home care business today in Australia and suggests ways in which home care providers can grow and scale their operations.

It is written by Peter Longman, Executive Director of the HAS Technology Group, and ezihub, for which eziplan is a key product. In the UK, Peter was the founder of a groundbreaking ECM system which enabled home care providers to manage calls and appointments and track customer satisfaction. The HAS technology brought more transparency to home care service delivery and led to huge savings for the sector.

Here in Australia, eziplan product is delivering cloud-based workforce management solutions for social care providers to help them improve care quality, safeguard workers and save time and money.

Why is the home care sector expanding?

Australians are living longer and future growth of the aged care sector is likely to be significant. According to Treasury’s 2015 Intergenerational Report, the number of Australians aged 65 years and over is expected to more than double over the next 40 years. It is estimated that, by 2055, 22.5% of the Australian population will be aged over 65[1].

In fact, the number of Australians aged 85 or older is higher now in actual numbers and as a percentage of the overall population. It stands to reason that the number of senior Australians receiving home care packages has also surged (by more than 20 per cent in 12 months), according to the home care report issued in September 2018[2]. 


It is generally assumed that people want to remain in their home and stay connected to family and community for as long as possible and the Australian Government is investing in home support and home care packages in order to support the ageing population at home.

The 2018-19 investment in home care packages is expected to be $2.5 billion[3], providing services such as personal and clinical support, mobility and domestic assistance, and nursing, nutrition and transport.

The move towards consumer directed care is a big part of the reforms Government is making and means, when it comes to home-based care and support[4], people will have greater choice and flexibility.

The latest Government quarterly report into home care estimated that overall home care package numbers will grow from around 87,000 in 2017-18 to 151,000 in 2021-22. [5][6].

As a result of the changes, home care package providers are having to adapt to a consumer led market and the higher levels of competition it brings.

 

What challenges are home care providers currently facing?

We know that, since 2016, the number of home care providers has exploded, with close to 900 businesses now offering in-home services. However, although the number of approved home care providers has increased by 75.2 per cent since June 2016, the number of packages has only increased by 17.57 per cent (since February 2017) suggesting that there is far more competition for clients today than previously[7].

In addition, a recent KPMG analysis demonstrates that the home care market is still changing fast and shows that new entrants are now making up over a third of all providers in key locations[8]. The majority of the new providers are already delivering other types of home care, including retirement living and residential care services, and 70 percent of the providers are for-profit businesses.

We believe it is essential providers respond to the economic competition in a sustainable way, understanding their markets in more detail, engaging their consumers in new and innovative ways and developing new services.

 

Industry Snapshot

eziplan has taken a snapshot survey of the operational challenges home care providers are facing in today’s market.

A majority of providers are growing at a moderate pace, with a sizeable percentage growing fast. However, the results of our survey tell us that staff management and recruitment remain a big challenge. Rostering staff time effectively is a part of that challenge, as is adapting to funding changes, with regulation and compliance another shared concern.

In terms of ambition, a majority of home care providers are focused on improving the quality of their services and many of these consider technology an important part of their concerns.

The home care businesses we have been helping in Australia tell us that the most important thing to them is having staff with the right attitude and being able to get the right care worker to the right client on time as often as possible. 


To do this well, we believe providers will need to address key industry challenges, including:

  • High employee turnover, including significant movement between organisations
  • Poor employee engagement and enablement
  • Capability gaps and misalignment in skills and competencies
  • Casualisation of the workforce and the difficulty of attracting talent
  • Ineffective recruitment, induction and on-boarding processes
  • Suboptimal workforce planning
  • The challenge of meeting the Aged Care Quality Standards i.e. being more accountable for safety and quality and having an increased focus on client care and client choice
    • employee engagement and enablement
    • efficiency - travel minimisation, maximisation of productive time
    • reduction of suboptimal workforce planning, including downtime between appointments, allowing all employees to spend more time productively working
    • the right person to be attached to the right shift with reliable regularity
    • the ability to audit the nature of services provided – in case registration requirements for homecare providers need further tightening in the future

  

What are the opportunities for growth in home care?

Providers who wish to grow rapidly (and capture a greater share of the market) need to be able to scale up their services at the same time as overcoming the industry challenges.

They need to understand their clients’ needs, deliver quality services and provide a positive end-to-end customer experience. They also need to be able to price services competitively and clearly communicate what differentiates them from their competition.

In our experience, process improvements - delivered through technology - will support providers to outshine others by improving their speed of operation and communication, helping them to deliver a consistently reliable service.

As it did in the UK, it is expected that technology will play an increasingly crucial role in customer service-led home care over the next few years and providers can’t afford to stand still. They need to be ready to use technology to innovate new services and products that positively impact on service delivery.

 

Scale and integration through technology

Today, all of the administrative functions involved in home care, from scheduling and rostering to billing and payments, are moving from paper or Excel to intelligent cloud-based systems.

These systems allow office administrators and care staff to communicate with each other, update their rosters in real time and view a wealth of business data with each rostered appointment, including staff qualifications, award interpretation and client records (making it easy to plan and manage an efficient workforce in the home care sector).  Cloud-based software allows providers to automate numerous administrative functions, manage their staff effectively and scale their operations for maximum business growth.

1.   Better rostering and communication with employees

 There is a lot of casualisation of the home care workforce, but a real time rostering app makes it easier for managers to allocate time for casual employees. It enables managers and staff to jointly plan days that fit their other schedules/routines and to decrease the amount of time they might spend as downtime on the job. This type of rostering (in real time) improves manager-employee communication and the perception of communication, enabling everyone to feel connected and supported.

Having ease of access to rosters and simple flexible interaction with a cloud-based (and so mobile) system will enable business owners to work on the following:

  • employee engagement and enablement 
  • efficiency - travel minimisation, maximisation of productive time
  • reduction of suboptimal workforce planning, including downtime between appointments, allowing all employees to spend more time productively working 

2.   Qualification management and auditing

A cloud-based platform which enables business information to be attached to a rostering schedule helps not only the rostering process but also auditing, the registration of new clients and accreditation. It can help businesses track the services they provide and gather immediate customer feedback. It can also help businesses monitor staff’s award qualifications and onboard new clients.

Having access to this intelligent business information will enable the following:

  •  The right person to be attached to the right shift with reliable regularity
  • The ability to audit the nature of services provided – in case registration requirements for homecare providers need further tightening in the future 

In this way, technology can impact the bottom line, giving home care providers the ability to manage staffing and processes every step of the way.

Mobile rostering apps have already proven effective for staff and cost management.

 

In an upcoming case study, a home care business in Victoria employed one of the ezihub workforce monitoring solutions to provide staff with a mobile interface for rostering and communication. Using the solution, staff were able to view rosters on their smartphones and make updates for their time and attendance.

 

The mobile system was well received by staff who felt they were in better communication with management and the home care business spent far less time processing timesheets, generating significant financial savings for their bottom line.

 

ezihub is a flexible set of integrated solutions designed for Aged Care, Home Care and NDIS Providers in Australia. ezihub’s eziplan is a workforce management solution, offering online client record keeping through to scheduling, payroll and claims. Together with ezitime and ezipay it is a core product of the ezihub brand. The team behind the brand has been developing technology solutions for the Community Health and Social care markets for over 20 years.


www.ezihub.com.au

 

If you would like to know more about Eziplan please get in contact us today 

[1] https://treasury.gov.au/public...
[2] http://www.health.gov.au/inter...[3] http://www.health.gov.au/inter...
[4] https://agedcare.health.gov.au...
[5] http://www.health.gov.au/inter...[6] http://www.health.gov.au/inter... 
[7] http://www.stewartbrown.com.au...[8] 
https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/i...