When it comes to job training, standardization matters, and this is especially true for home health care teams. To ensure patients receive effective and comprehensive care, home health providers are encouraged to provide training frameworks that are clear, consistent, and compliant. But evolving market challenges make this kind of standardization difficult. A recent government report revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing challenges around both retention and recruiting, thus making it more tricky to ensure that all staff are up-to-date on current training programs and protocols.1 However, here are three ways home health providers can improve training standardization for staff.
Ensure Home Health Training Access
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society notes that health care aides employed by Medicare-certified providers must complete 75 hours of training to verify they have the skills and knowledge to standardize the performance of common tasks.2 As a result, it’s critical that home health agencies (HHAs) provide staff with streamlined access to this training. The rise of virtual training offers a straightforward way to achieve this goal. By combining anytime, anywhere access to virtual training sessions with home health software tools that provide a centralized repository for training data, home health agencies can see to it that staff are both fully competent and in compliance.
Provide Streamlined Tools for Activity Reporting
As pointed out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), HHAs are required to submit health quality data. Failure to do so can have significant consequences. According to the CMS, “HHAs that do not meet the reporting requirements are subject to a two percentage point reduction to the HH market basket increase.”3
For home health providers, this expectation speaks to the need for standardized and streamlined data reporting. Details about point-of-care services, treatments completed and patient satisfaction all play a role in determining overall health quality scores. Lacking a central and easy-accessed repository for this data, meanwhile, can cost HHAs both time and money as they look to create and deliver compliant quality data. Therefore, while standardization starts with training, it’s important to keep in mind that it continues with streamlined tools that allow staff to quickly enter, verify and access treatment and patient data on-demand.
Implement Processes to Retain Staff
Pandemic pressures have exacerbated existing issues for HHAs, especially when it comes to staffing, which can create issues for training standardization. Here’s why: High staff turnover requires more time and effort for training since new staff must be onboarded, evaluated, and monitored to ensure they’re meeting compliance requirements. The greater the staff turnover, the more time spent managing standardization and getting new employees up to speed.
Home health providers must implement new processes to retain staff. While offering increased wages is one example of doing this, a recent article from the Association of Health Care Journalists notes that concerns around sick leave and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) are also significant factors in staff retention.4 For example, the recent CARES Act that passed in March excluded home health workers from mandatory sick leave if exposed to COVID-19. By implementing in-house policies that prioritize staff safety, HHAs can help reduce turnover and the amount of time required to find, onboard, and train staff to ensure standardization.
1 Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, “COVID-19 Intensifies Home Care Workforce Challenges,” May 31, 2021.
2 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, “The Future of the Home Care Workforce: Training and Supporting Aides as Members of Home-Based Care Teams,” May 10, 2019.
3 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Home Health Quality Reporting Requirements,” July 7, 2021.
4 Association of Health Care Journalists, “Home-Care Workers Facing Numerous Challenges During Pandemic,” April 20, 2020.