Is your Business Prepared for Post Pandemic?

When the COVID Storm is Over…

Is your business prepared for the post covid busy season? The COVID-19 storm will be over. The world is being reshaped from work and business travel to recess at school. There are many things both individuals and organizations can be doing now to be prepared and ready for post pandemic life and the post pandemic marketplace.

Currently there is a lot of pain. Business is down on average 20-40% for home care agencies, though there are pockets across the country that increased in revenue especially if combined with skilled and/or staffing services.Residential care facilities have been hit even harder, having shelter in place orders for employees and 14-day quarantines for any potential new residents (if admitting new residents) and many prospective buyers overall are in a holding pattern during this time. The buyer behavior of putting consumption of services on hold and delay of decisions will change soon and a sales strategy to be ready an approach now with a customer service and communication focus is important 

Hospice care and funeral homes have had particularly unique challenges. Hospice care pre-covid had a specific formula: gather loving visitors around a patient near the end of life, centering care on pain management, comfort, and peace. Hospice care is designed to address the physical aspects AND, just as important: ‘the substantial emotional, social and spiritual needs that arise as death approaches.’ Hospice nurses have been reported as feeling that they are failing their patients in the age of pandemic response, because of the restrictions and limitations to meet some of these essential elements of delivering care.

Covid has changed how funerals are conducted and families grieve…

There are health facilities that are strained, overwhelmed, short staffed, lacking equipment and overall lack of preparedness for an unforeseen event.

There may be a second wave of COVID-19 and ongoing challenges that consist of more unpredictable and disruptive events.

We can go on and on about pain, suffering, and limitations.

Look at the biblical verse Isaiah 48:10 – how silver is refined. Through the fire.

There is hope. We will beat this thing. We will be stronger for it. People will be returning to work, adapt and thrive. There will be a vaccine. Look at the history of the post pandemic 1918 caused by a version of the H1N1 virus. While there is less macro- economic data available from this time, there are research papers that address the topic and the economic impact of influenza of 1918 and how it was short-lived and yet “had a permanent influence not on the collective, but on the atoms of human society – individuals”; and that “society as a whole recovered from the 1918 influenza quickly” and the recovery came in 3 waves/phases.

The Big Picture:

Home care and need for healthcare services will grow over the next 12 months.

The need to adapt to the quarantine, shelter in place work orders, and other limitations the quarantine poses, has helped launch home care and other healthcare groups into the future now and adopt technological and other changes.

The need for high touch healthcare services is pent up. Adult children need respite. Seniors need high touch, high quality care to a much higher degree than what is being consumed now. People are engaging now more than ever with the industry as a possible career path.

Right now, home care businesses should have, and continue to have, a high level of focus being placed on dials such as: recruitment, customer service, engagement, training, and adapting their social media and other messaging. People are hungry for how to find relevant resources, cope physically, emotionally, financially and socially.

People want to better understand what is next. Delivering and maintaining a high-level of personal delivery of sincerity of caring communication with staff, families, and the community is a priority.

Take a look at one of the programs to tackle covid’s effects on employees that Starbucks innovated to serve its stakeholders: in partnership with the Emergency Assistance Foundation, grants are available to international licensed store partners facing extreme hardship as a result of COVID-19 and are distributed according to the most acute needs.

Responding to a Community Wide Problem:

Tapping into programs like Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in your planning and operations, and finding creative ways to serve the community is not only a great way to support staff directly, but also a wonderful differentiation to separate yourself in the community and eyes of customers and to give back. Providing employee recognition, efforts of helping solve a community wide problem in the market can carry this narrative forward in the hearts and mind of other community members and potential stakeholders.

Response as Differentiation

The home care industry has had historically low barriers to entry. There are a lot of players in a market with a wide range of capabilities to deliver service and will respond in a variety of ways. While a consolidation is slowly happening as the market segmentation of consumers grows, having a game plan to respond to the multitude of industry challenges takes creativity, innovation, adaptability and flexibility.

Industry leaders such as Cyril Vergis, COO of Arosa + LivHome created a similar type of program fund such as Starbucks by tapping into the larger organization network for employees to be able to serve his group and to solve problems created by COVID. Cyril has also been at the forefront of partnering with other groups such as Littler, MyCNAjobs, Home Care pulse , etc. in order to advance and improve the dialogue at a broader level and discuss an approach at an industry wide level and help to elevate and raise standards and collective responses to the pandemic.

During this pandemic and post covid, those companies that truly demonstrate a caregiver focus, will make a big difference. Cyril points out the current opportunity presented by covid for home care by how organizations respond to problems such as the what we face with the current pandemic.

The choices you make now, and your willingness to have personalized engagement with staff, community partners, and clients; your willingness to be flexible and adaptable with the times, technology, and training to tackle problems and meet the demands of the current environment will separate you from your competitors post-covid.

Recruitment and Retention

Growing a healthcare business is about having the right people working together,  the right mix of staff,  the right caregiver with the right skills ready to take the case in the field at the right time.

Sixth Sense recommends having a robust recruitment strategy and a continued focus on recruitment . Partnering your organization with companies like MyCNAJobs are an important part of a long-term strategy to deal with the consistent demand to fill orders in the market. Brandi Kurtyka, CEO of MyCNAJobs, points out that about “30% of companies are taking their gas off the petal with recruitment”, and “this could prove to be a very big mistake”.

Brandi notes that her group has seen changes regarding application behavior, that applications are up and that there is over 70% show up rate after covid – possibly because of higher intent job seekers.

“Caregivers are applying to fewer jobs: one to two opposed to three to four. There is an uptick in interest for care giving and re-engagement of caregivers and virtual model of interviewing”

The puzzle of having the right level of staff to meet demand has “gotten a lot more complicated”, schedules can be more unpredictable, the projected volume of cases and demand for services “tomorrow” will happen. You need to be recruiting and build your labor pool and relationships with quality caregivers.

Virtual interviewing and an online process is much more efficient.  Moving your entire hiring process to a virtual, online platform will save time, money, and resources that can improve speed to market, overall efficiency and time that can be re-invested in other areas of the business.

Margaret Keen, Vice president of Strategic Initiatives at MyCnaJobs notes that Optimizing and updating messaging is an important part of your strategy. Do you have COVID training? Do you offer hazard pay, PTO? How are you changing your messaging and approach to be relevant with the current state today? Higher satisfaction rates with a virtual interactive model and going BIG on everything virtual is a big part of having success in this market.

Solid strategy plays such as having a consistent solid employee referral program and building non transactional relationships with caregivers is essential in growing your organization.

Todd Austin the COO of Homecare Pulse focuses on helping companies know their customers through surveys and data collection and helps companies differentiate as employers and providers of choice.  How important is understanding your customer base? Studies by Bain & Company, along with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School, have shown that even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95 percent. Todd points out that “agencies that focus on satisfaction have $300K more in growth revenue than those agencies that do not focus on customer satisfaction”.

A paused customer communication plan should be in place and communication should stay frequent as you want to stay top of mind. High touch frequency for paused customers, current customers, staff and community partners now and can help recover and launch into more growth for the post pandemic market. 

Covid is not going away altogether– what is your current and post covid plan?

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