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Why automation and a car engine could save your home care business

Dec 8, 2022 | Blog Post, For home care professionals

If every time a car was driven, various engine parts had to be fitted to it, you might think it is a bit complicated and too time consuming.

This is how most home care management systems work.

The user is required to click on menus, then on sub menus, navigate their way around a maze of options, and think about the data they see on the screen.

It is also why systems users often complain that the technology does not help them to do the job faster or easier.

MyHelpa is like a car engine. It is complicated, with many moving parts. But, it just needs the push of a button (or turn of a key) to start it up. Easy.

Yet home care is complex. There are many aspects to delivering care which often present frustrating and administrative obstacles every day.

Common issues in scheduling

One of the most challenging jobs in home care is building the rota.

Even today, manual schedule creation for a typical home care provision is usually the responsibility of a care co-ordinator(s).

With so many moving parts to consider, including staff absence, last minute sickness, transport issues, or visit cancellations, a rota can take hours, if not days of work each week.

Some medium to large home care providers resource multiple co-ordinators because the shear scale of the manual workload to build the rota demands it.

The bigger the business, the more manual work, needing more headcount to do get through it. This is why headcount costs quickly scale up with growth and erode margins.

Current systems waste time

When scheduling, most care management systems need the user to allocate visits and then, as an additional step, it will calculate travel time and mileage.

Then the user, seeing this information, has to decide whether to change the visit, and reallocate, based on the travel data presented to them. This takes yet more time.

And there is further complexity. Most systems will consider criteria like distance, travel and staff availability.

This means the user then needs to think about a raft of other criteria, like continuity of care, in-date qualifications, incompatibilities, such as pet allergies or non-smoking visits, types of transport, from walking and scooters to buses, trains and cars.

It forces the user to consider individual circumstances, like are carers a passenger in another carer’s car for one visit, and making their way on foot for the next, and so on.

This is just the workforce, or supply, side of the process. The customer/service user, or demand side, is even more complex.

Why is scheduling so time consuming? Because home care scheduling involves daily remote visits for multiple staff, in multiple locations, at different times and in varying and regulated scenarios.

When we built MyHelpa, no tech existed that was capable of auto-generating schedules for this unique need.

Problems with this process are numerous:

Wasting Time
Creating schedules by hand can take as long as an hour, and we have seen the scheduling process eat up as much as 4 days a week across 4 full-time co-ordinators. Across the year, it adds up!

Even when created by well-meaning people, manual schedules are prone to error. Maybe a care professional’s qualification is out of date, or the co-ordinator didn’t know that the customer/service user requested an Urdu speaking female. As complexity of all the criteria under consideration increases, so does the likelihood of error and oversight.

The role of co-ordination is crucial. Getting the rota right or wrong can have a huge influence on workforce and business performance. Sending a carer to the wrong areas or create large wait times between visits is a proven way to drive staff churn. Without assigning staff with the right qualifications, the quality of care delivered is affected. These are the biggest responsibilities.

Schedules created manually can leave too much downtime between home visits, and they may also force care workers to travel excessive distances from location to location. This drives up their costs, so when they have paid their bills, there is little, nothing, or negative earnings left to live. This is why so many care staff have left the sector.

These problems confront co-ordinators every day.

Algorithms and automation

Frustrations and obstacles are the grit in the engine of home care operations.

Maybe it’s a discharge team waiting for a call back, or a staff member asking for some much-needed time off, only to have her request denied after a long delay. Maybe it’s a co-ordinator who simply doesn’t have time to make 25 phone calls and send as many emails, texts and WhatsApp messages to remind staff about their appointments.

MyHelpa is designed to address these problems. Algorithms use rules to process data and solve problems, super quickly, and in a repeatable way, to automate previously manual workflows.

MyHelpa’s ai-driven algorithm alleviates the stresses and strains of care ops:

  • Auto-generate better schedules in a fraction of the time, even for the most complex care.
  • Instantly distribute completed schedules to the mobile app.
  • Easily pair or group staff together based on established preferences, and by areas or runs.
  • Auto-create detailed pay, billing and margin reporting using mobile app visit validation.
  • Allow for human oversight and manual overrides as a failsafe.

Solving workforce burnout

Automation is a game changer. No more spending hours each evening on the next day’s schedule. It means more time with family and friends, more time to unwind, away from work, and one less gruelling process to worry over.

Crucially, it also means less staff overhead and more time to provide care.

Through the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis, the longstanding goodwill of the home care workforce has passed breaking point.

Technology is now able to eradicate time, emotional and energy draining workflows. It is capable of ‘nudging’ better behaviours, reducing mistakes, and meeting (not failing) expectations.

In this way, MyHelpa can help a home care business to grow and employees to better enjoy their vital work.