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Home care agencies must ensure their caregivers meet all regional, state, and federal regulatory guidelines. However, with caregivers working in client homes throughout a large area and not coming into the office daily, keeping up with caregiver compliance issues can seem nearly impossible. 

If you are struggling with caregiver compliance issues, you aren’t alone. Many home care owners are in the same boat. We’ve compiled the most common caregiver compliance issues we see across the industry, as well as how exceptional agencies are leveraging technology to solve these problems for good.

Why Compliance Matters

Caregiver compliance matters for all home care agencies, and for a variety of reasons. Without proper compliance, agencies risk:

  • Decreased revenue from CMS reimbursement
  • Accruing fines from state and federal regulatory boards
  • Decreased reputation throughout the local community, leading to fewer professional referrals and fewer clients
  • Increased strain on caregivers who are currently in compliance, leading to compassion fatigue and retention issues
  • Paying more money for expiration, renewal, or late fees

While caregiver compliance regulations vary from state to state, the majority of home care agencies operating across America are bound by some type of regulatory standards. Maintaining compliance ensures your agency receives insurance and CMS reimbursement, as well as securing your position as a leader in your area.

Issue #1: No System for Managing Certification Expirations

Home care agencies employ caregivers touting a variety of certifications and licenses, each with a different expiration or renewal date. While caregivers and nurses should be responsible for renewing their own certifications, it is common for busy professionals to forget when their certification is almost expired. Beyond professional certifications and licenses, caregivers also need to have updated physicals, vaccines, and TB tests in order to remain in compliance and able to safely give care to clients.

Some home care agencies try to manage expirations and renewals by tracking them in HR files or an analog calendar system. This tactic can be effective, but it requires a manager with an eye for detail and the time to inform caregivers that their renewal date is arriving in the next few months. When you add in the complications that arrive with new employees starting weekly and using a PRN pool, agency leaders simply find it too difficult to manage everyone’s certification requirements and renewals.

Technology can play a part in solving the certification and license issues. Try upgrading your HR files and using a digital calendar system to automate the process. It will take some time to load in renewal dates into your calendar’s timeline, but once entered, you can receive notifications when it is time to remind your caregivers to bring in their updated information.

Issue #2: No Consistent Training Plan or Documentation

Ongoing training is a hallmark of most caregiver regulations, and most agencies struggle to find a way to gather employees for required training throughout the year. Since caregivers and nurses are not in the home care office consistently, like hospital or skilled care counterparts, it makes it difficult to find a time when the whole team can get together to learn more about a specific training topic. 

Most home care agencies end up scrambling to schedule training towards the end of the calendar year in order to stay compliant. Unfortunately, this time of year is especially busy for caregivers and clients, making it even more difficult to get every staff member to attend educational opportunities.

Exceptional home care agencies are choosing to use online training solutions to ensure their caregivers are staying compliant, as well as making sure everyone gets the same reliable information from a trusted source. Your agency can use online training as well, either by offering a learning platform for caregivers to use individually or by watching training in larger groups during your monthly staff meetings. Choose to work with a platform that is easy to use and that offers tests at the end of each module so that caregivers can demonstrate understanding.

Issue #3: High Turnover Leads to Confusion

Caregivers need to maintain their professional certifications, medical check-ups, and training in order to remain compliant. With most home care agencies struggling with high caregiver turnover rates, it is no surprise that this revolving door of caregivers can make tracking compliance especially difficult. When you factor in a large PRN pool or part-time staff members who pick up fewer than one shift per week, things get even more complicated.

While you might not be able to fight high turnover rates, your agency can find digital solutions to make managing a large pool of employees easier. Try upgrading HR files to digital versions that make finding and tracking certifications, checkups, and training easier. Shifting to digital can also give leaders the opportunity to check compliance from anywhere, not just from the office HR filing cabinet.

Issue #4: Poor Inter-Agency Communication

Perhaps the biggest culprit for caregiver non-compliance is poor communication between caregivers and the office staff. Whether it is to remind a caregiver to update their TB test next month or for a caregiver to bring in a copy of their renewed certificate, effective communication is critical. 

Even the most veteran home care agencies can struggle with communication, especially if there are not policies and procedures outlining the process. Language barriers can also cause communication issues, further complicating the situation.

To manage this difficult issue, many home care agencies are moving communication to specialized apps, as most caregivers and office staff have some type of smartphone. These apps make communication much easier for everyone, especially since caregivers are often working when office staff are not. Apps offer real-time communication via text, email, or voicemail while still meeting HIPAA confidentiality and privacy guidelines. Most apps also allow document uploading and transfers, making it easy for caregivers to send along renewed certificates or testing confirmation directly to the office with a few button taps on their phone.

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