Recognize your caregivers for stepping up

It’s always time to thank your caregivers, but a  good way to start recognizing caregivers either verbally or financially is whenever they go above and beyond for the team.

Lots of online articles, but how to make it real?

There are many resources online that recommend implementing recognition programs as a way to retain your caregivers, but what does that actually entail? When conducting research last year, we spoke with both home care owners and caregivers about this very question, and came across a large variation of answers.

On the surface, the question (what is recognition) is very straightforward. But when you take the first step towards implementing a caregiver recognition program, it's common to run into two questions:

  1. What is recognition?
  2. When should it be given?

What is recognition?

Recognition can range between something as small as a simple "thank you" and something as big as a pay raise or promotion.  Regardless, recognition is something the agency or client does that lets caregivers know that they matter.

When you learn more about your caregivers through other programs you've implemented in your home care agency (such as through regular client feedback or caregiver feedback from offered shifts), you can start personalizing your recognition to their individual preferences, and make it known how much you appreciate their efforts.

Common non-financial recognition includes

  • Passing along glowing client feedback
  • Cheers from peers (through something public such as the company Facebook page or other forum)
  • Handwritten thank you notes
  • A personal phone call from the owner or CEO

Recognition can also be financial

  • Gift cards to stores of the caregiver's choice
  • Help with the caregiver's commute (e.g. calling an Uber for a caregiver)
  • Assisting with continuing education (note: this is normally for an especially strong caregiver who has been with the company for a long time)
  • Paid time off
“When you learn more about your caregivers through other programs you’ve implemented in your home care agency, you can start personalizing your recognition to their individual preferences”

Regardless of what you decide is right for your caregiver(s), be sure to personalize it to their preferences and that it isn't so predictable that it becomes the expectation. Even the best recognition falls flat when one realizes everyone else received the same treatment.

When should recognition be given?

“Even the best recognition falls flat when one realizes everyone else received the same treatment.”

According to Google, National Caregivers Day is observed on the third Friday in February, but as all keen home care owners know, every day is National Caregivers Day.

At the very least, recognition should always be given when a caregiver steps up for the agency.

Depending on the agency, this can be when a caregiver:

  • Accepts a shift for someone who called out last-minute
  • Completed a particularly grueling job (physically or emotionally)
  • Traveled particularly far to support a client
  • Stayed after their shift to cover for a missing coworker
  • Receives particularly positive feedback from client
“National Caregivers Day is observed on the third Friday in February, but as all keen home care owners know, every day is National Caregivers Day.”
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Good habits, frequent recognition, happy caregivers

Recognition comes in all shapes and sizes and should be given at all times, but if you need one thing to get your team into the habit of recognizing caregivers, start by choosing one action and one recognition. For example, every time a caregiver accepts a shift over a certain distance, give them a call to say thanks. Retaining caregivers is a journey that takes an entire team's commitment, but as Desmond Tutu once said - there is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.

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