Fostering an Ethical Workplace in Home Health Care

Company ethics help to define an organization’s operating culture and instilling those ethics begins at the top – with leadership who set the tone and promote ethical behavior among all employees. In fact, ethical behavior in the workplace is a crucial part of employment and can help boost a company’s reputation in the community. This is true for all types of organizations, including home health care agencies, which rely on their home care workers to act properly and do the right thing, even (and especially) when no one is watching. Patients and families trust them to undertake some of the most intimate and life-dependent tasks, such as bathing, preparing meals, and reminding clients to take their medications.

How does one foster an ethical workplace environment in the home health care industry? First, make sure that the home health care agency’s employment practices specify what is deemed to be acceptable behavior. This can be done during the hiring process and in the company’s written job descriptions. Behavior guidelines typically address topics such as harassment, work attire, language, patient treatment, and protocols.  Workers who don’t follow codes of conduct may receive written and verbal warnings, and employment ultimately may be terminated. A key component to workplace ethics is also based on individual integrity. For example, home health care employees who work with mentally or physically challenged patients who could easily be taken advantage of must possess a high degree of integrity.

In addition, accountability is important in helping to cultivate an ethical workplace. This means employees showing up on scheduled workdays, as well as arriving on time and putting in an honest effort while on the job. Workers who exhibit accountability are truthful when things go wrong, and then work toward a resolution while remaining professional all the while.

It’s critical that leadership and management serve to be both guardians and champions of the ethical culture in their organizations. How well the caregivers are treated will translate into how well clients are ultimately treated. Leadership should be actively cultivating both quality care and quality jobs, providing a safe environment, and making employees feel valued. This includes giving priority to employee rights, fair procedures, equity in pay and promotion, and advocating tolerance, compassion, loyalty and honesty in the treatment of clients and employees. It also means providing excellent training and the ability to participate in decision-making, as caregivers are the ones who have the first-hand experience with the clients.

One home health care agency, for example, in its effort to help its home care workers succeed, implemented a peer-mentoring program where mentors provided guidance to new hires through the first few months. This not only served to showcase the organization’s approach to patient care but also provided new hires with a strategy to do a quality job while boosting employee retention for the home health care agency. Another home health care provider makes sure its caregivers are involved in the planning for a patient’s care within their particular job descriptions. They assist both in home care and hospice care and are trained to spot changes in clients’ health status. When they see a change, the employees are empowered to speak with the case manager to suggest a revised course of action.

Moreover, caregivers are typically isolated as they work in home settings and can feel disengaged from an organization because other staff members don’t see them on a daily basis. Letting home health care workers know they are an integral part of the team through joint communication and participation in regular employee events is important in reflecting the value the organization places on them and helps to instill a collaborative culture.

About Manchester Specialty

Manchester Specialty Programs focuses on protecting the home health care industry with a broad spectrum of insurance solutions. Employee morale and ethics can often translate into a better run organization with fewer insurance claims activity.  For more information about our insurance programs, you or your local agent/broker may contact us at 855.972.9399.