April 27, 2015

Building sustainable relationships for care in the home

There’s a growing need for in-home care services and we are seeing more private operators come into the sector. Caroline Ucherek and Sheree Gover from CJU Medical Marketing share their tips for driving business growth by building relationships with clients, their families and referrers.

The increasing demand for in-home care looks set to continue. Many older Australians would like to live at home and the right kind of help can often make that possible. In-home support can also be a very cost-effective alternative to residential care. The sector is growing fast – but it’s already very competitive.

“If you want to grow your business you need to promote your services to the right people in the right way,” says Caroline Ucherek, General Manager of CJU Medical Marketing.

Ucherek and her colleague Sheree Gover, Strategic Marketing Manager and Digital Marketing Specialist at CJU, share their tips on how to succeed.

Define your business

In-home care covers three broad areas:

 Nursing care – from short-term support or wound care after surgery to longer-term management of medication.

Personal care – help with tasks such as showering and dressing.

Domestic services – help with chores including meal preparation, cleaning, laundry and shopping.

“You need to be very specific and realistic about the services you’re able to provide,” says Ucherek. “Some providers make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people but it’s much better to have a small mix of services that you do really well. Focusing on what you’re good at will help to set you apart. Failure to deliver on a promise will do serious damage to your reputation.”

Build trust

“The most important thing to remember is that you’re dealing with people at a very vulnerable stage of their life,” says Ucherek. “You’re not so much offering a service as putting yourself in a position of trust.”

Family members are often the ones to search for help when they recognise that a relative isn’t coping.

“They want to know why you should be entrusted with the care of their loved one,” Ucherek continues. “Being very clear about what you represent, your mission and your values can help to reassure them.”

Develop relationships with referrers

A good relationship with referrers such as general practitioners and discharge planners is crucial.

“Being listed as a provider within these communities gives you credibility as well as direct referrals,” says Ucherek.

Most referrers are actively looking for people they can recommend with confidence, so they will probably agree to meet you and listen to what you have to say. But, again, any relationship will be built on trust.

“All of your communications must be correct to the last detail,” Ucherek continues. “And, once again, if you’re given the opportunity to provide a service you must deliver on everything you promise.

Make yourself known

These days, most people begin a search for in-home care online.

“Every business needs a website, no exceptions,” says Gover. “It doesn’t have to be big or complicated but it should be designed with building trust in mind.”

Facebook, Twitter and blogging can all make it easier for potential clients and their families to do their research.

“They can read about what you and other people are saying,” Gover continues. “You might also consider writing a regular blog. Impartial advice and information about health and other relevant topics can demonstrate your commitment and expertise.”

Potential for growth

“Whatever size your business there’s a lot of potential for growth in this area,” says Ucherek. “But, if you’re going to succeed in what’s becoming a very crowded marketplace, you need your business model and marketing strategy to be absoultely right.”

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