In September, Dr. Paul Chiang, Senior Medical and Practice Advisor, HCCI, and Medical Director, Northwestern Medicine HomeCare Physicians, and Rebecca Ramsay, MPH, BSN, Chief Executive Officer, Housecall Providers, presented on The Intersection of Home-Based Primary Care and Palliative Care for a group of Illinois-based palliative and hospice care providers in Schaumburg. The presentation was the second in HCCI’s Crossroads of Care Series, which focuses on the benefits of bringing home-based primary and palliative care together as a full-service solution for managing complex illness and chronic disease.

Among the topics they discussed was staff retention ─ hiring and retaining quality employees ─ which applies to all practices. In fact, there is more demand than supply available for many of the complex roles involved with these practices.

“What keeps me awake is staff retention,” Dr. Chiang said. Ramsay added, “One of the most important tasks for someone who is overseeing or running a practice is finding the right people.”

According to Ramsay, the “right people” must have the key competencies, including the clinical expertise to work with patients who have complex symptoms and are on multiple medications; the ability to work with documentation and coding technology; and the “soft” skills that are needed for working with patients, especially in their homes.

Also, Ramsay said, these providers must be able to have “those sometimes uncomfortable, but important, conversations with patients and families about their own goals during the illness and at the end of life.” Expanding on this, Dr. Chiang added that house call providers often take on the role of a family therapist, increasing the complexity of what he calls “terribly demanding but very rewarding work.”

Both Dr. Chiang and Ramsay agreed that a competitive salary and benefits (including perks like gym memberships and often even pet insurance) are crucial for retention. Alongside the total compensation package, workplaces must also foster a culture of teamwork. “The more you can foster a feeling of team, support, and belonging, the more resilient the staff will be,” Dr. Chiang said.

The Home Centered Care Institute gratefully acknowledges support for the Crossroads of Care Series in the form of a grant from Elea Institute, dedicated to advancing care for people with serious illnesses.

Note for IL Hospice and Palliative Care Programs:

Please join HCCI as we continue the conversation during our third Crossroads event, Optimizing Efficiency in House Call Operations, on Wednesday, December 6, from 4 to 6pm CT in Schaumburg. Register here.