As the population ages, providing home care is becoming increasingly important. But caring for patients is a demanding job, and overbooking staff can quickly lead to burn out and high turnover. That's why it's important to balance home care provider workloads.

Retaining personal support workers, nurses and other home care staff is critical when running a home care business, but it's an area where the industry is struggling. A 2018 study by Home Care Pulse found that turnover had hit an all-time high of 82%. Recruiting and training so many new care givers every year is a major expense, but beyond that, more than half of the home care businesses in the survey had to turn away new clients because of staff shortages. With those statistics, working to reduce turnover rates is a business no-brainer for home care companies.

Workload, long hours and wages are some of the main reasons home caregivers resign – sometimes leaving the industry entirely. By using mapping software to plan and review schedules and coverage areas, you can provide a balanced, manageable workload that helps improve care giver job satisfaction.

Start by mapping clients and care givers

The first step to balancing the workloads of your home care staff is to map where your clients live. If your staff members start their day directly from their homes, it's useful to map this over top of your clients. Otherwise, map the office locations that serve as your care giver home base.

Pin map showing the location of home care clients and providers

Create a coverage area using drive-time buffers

By creating a pin map with this information, you can efficiently match clients and support workers. Start by creating a drive-time buffer around each of the care givers on the map. This buffer allows you to set a maximum drive time, then draws around the central point. This way, you can ensure that no appointment is further away from the support worker's home base than, say, 30 minutes.

By taking this structured approach and matching care givers to clients nearby, you ultimately reduce time on the road. That means less stress for your staff and more time connecting with clients.

Drive-time buffer around care giver locations

Instantly see where you need more coverage

Now that there are drive-time buffers on your home care workers, it's obvious there are several clients outside of the coverage area. There are also too many clients in the Washington D.C. area for a single person to cover. This suggests that you need to hire additional care workers and shows where you should advertise the job.

To get additional coverage that will have the biggest impact, you should recruit an additional home care worker somewhere near Rockville or Bethesda. From that area, they'll be able to serve most of the clients outside of the current coverage areas while also providing support to the over-booked Washington area.

By adding a home care worker near Bethesda, we're able to better cover our existing clients

By adding a home care worker near Bethesda, we're able to better cover our existing clients

Plan routes for the week

Now you can easily see which clients fall within each care giver's coverage area. If you include columns in your data that indicate the days each client needs a visit, this can help you plan out the care giver's week.

For example, you can use eSpatial's filtering options so that only clients who need a visit on Monday are shown.

Filtering shows which clients need a care giver visit on Mondays

Once you've filtered your clients, you can use eSpatial's route planning feature to quickly create the most efficient route for your care giver. You can add all the points in seconds and eSpatial will automatically order them and find the fastest route. You can also enter the amount of time the care giver will spend at each appointment. Remember to leave some buffer time to allow for appointments that run long and any paperwork or notes the support worker must fill out after the visit. The goal is to create a manageable schedule that account for travel and administration time.

You can repeat this process for every day of the week, creating a realistic visit schedule that makes the most of your home care worker's time. Having this mapped out, complete with weekly mileage, also makes it easier to calculate and pay out vehicle expenses without requiring your staff to do the math themselves.

Once you've mapped the routes, you can share it directly with your home care workers. With the eSpatial app, they can review their route throughout the day or open it in Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation. Since eSpatial is cloud-based, it's easy to keep everyone on the same page. If you need to reassign a client to rebalance the workload, you can instantly send out updated maps.

Keep an eye on the long-term benefits

If you're conducting this review for the first time, creating balanced workloads for each care giver may mean you need more staff overall to cover your clients. While this may be an upfront expense, your company could save much more by reducing your staff turnover rate. According to Home Care Pulse, replacing a single care giver costs about $2,600. When you're replacing 82% of your staff every year, that can add up fast. Reducing turnover is better for your bottom line and your clients, who will receive a more consistent quality of care and get to know their support worker.

Heather McLean
Written by

Heather McLean

Manager Heather is eSpatial's Customer Communications Manager. With a background in journalism and communications, she specializes in making technical topics more approachable. Her articles dig deep into how businesses can use mapping software to achieve their goals.