In any industry that offers service, there are bound to be customer complaints. Whether you are dealing with clients who just happen to be particular and will never be 100 percent satisfied, or something truly went wrong and it was your fault, there will come a time when you have to deal with a complaint.
However, you can reduce the number of complaints you receive, and keep your customers satisfied. The most obvious solution, of course, is to offer exceptional service at all times, but even then your clients may have concerns — not to mention, your idea of great service might be different from theirs. Beyond asking your staff to turn themselves inside out to cater to clients’ every whim, how can you avoid some of the top home health client complaints? The first step is to understand what bothers people the most.
The Most Common Home Health Complaints
While every agency receives different comments from clients — and every agency has that one complaint seems unbelievable — there are some complaints that seem to rise to the top of the list every time there is a survey. Among the most common?
Many common complaints can fall under the umbrella of communication, but among the most common include:
Lack of communication. Clients want to know who is coming, when they will be there, and what is going to happen during the visit. Family members want to know how their loved one is progressing, and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Patients also complain about changes to the schedule or which provider will be visiting, especially when those changes occur without notice.
Miscommunication. A patient thinks that their home health worker will be picking up medication at the pharmacy, while your employee thinks that the patient’s spouse is taking care of the errand. The result? No medication, and frustration all around.
Language barriers. When the patient and caregiver do not speak the same language, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and frustration is common.
Inconsistent Caregiver Skills and Training
Patients have certain expectations when it comes to the people who will be caring for them in their homes. When caregivers are unable to manage certain tasks or don’t understand or respect patient needs and preferences, conflict arises.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as knowing how to prepare basic meals; when a caregiver cannot scramble some eggs or make a grilled cheese sandwich, patients can become frustrated.
Lack of Compassion and Personality Conflicts Scheduling Issues
Compassion and a personable nature are key to being a successful home health provider. However, a common patient complaint is feeling as if their caregiver doesn’t really care or can’t be bothered to do their jobs. They rush through their tasks, spend time texting or surfing the web when they should be interacting with their patient, or otherwise don’t put the time and care into their work that they should.
Perhaps one of the biggest complaints about home health workers has to deal with scheduling. Punctuality is a common issue, but so are issues with timing and working within client needs.
These are just some of the common complaints about home health. It’s likely that your agency has never received any of these complaints — or maybe you have a great deal of experience with one or more. In any case, you can lessen the likelihood of any of them being a real problem for your agency.
Stopping Complaints Before They Start
Perhaps one of the best ways to avoid common home health complaints is to implement an advanced home health management software program to manage scheduling while also offering communication portals, documentation capabilities, and more.
For example, software like ContinuLink’s allows you to schedule caregivers in relation to travel time, reducing the risk of late visits. A portal that contains all of the information that the caregiver needs to conduct the visit can ensure better communication, and reduce the chances of misunderstandings.
However, while technological solutions can reduce complaints considerably, they don’t account for the human factor. Your staff is the first line of defense against complaints, and that means you need to put a great deal of time and effort into your hiring and training processes.
Focusing on hiring qualified staff who possess the soft skills necessary to provide compassionate care for your clients is the first step, but you should also devote resources to identifying and filling gaps in their training. In other words, if your workers don’t know how to make scrambled eggs, conduct some cooking workshops to help them learn those skills and provide better service to their clients.
Complaint management is a key part of any successful enterprise. However, more than addressing complaints in a timely manner, effective management comes down to preventing them in the first place.
To learn more about software from Complia Health that can help you avoid common complaints and better manage your agency, explore some of our resources here.