HHAeXchange recently sat down with James Cohen, CEO of Nevvon, a global homecare education technology company, to learn how COVID-19 has impacted the industry’s outlook on technology use – particularly in regard to caregiver training. Here, Cohen shares why caregivers prefer mobile apps over pen and paper, what makes a successful eLearning program, and how you can help your aides overcome hesitancy around the COVID-19 vaccine.

How has COVID-19 impacted the homecare industry’s views on technology?

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change and accelerated the acceptance of emerging technologies in the homecare industry. Technology service providers and agencies have been working hand-in-hand throughout COVID-19 as the consensus is that technology is essential for business. In fact, more than half of the homecare providers surveyed in a recent study said that greater use of technology will be the thing that impacts them the most post-pandemic.

Do you think caregivers are more comfortable using technology now than they were before the pandemic? Why or why not?

In the same way that caregivers don’t wish to line up at the bank to transact with a bank teller, caregivers want to use technology to save themselves time and be more efficient in their workplace. Education on how to use technology is at the core of what technology service providers should be offering to give caregivers a simple and pleasant user experience. Data from Nevvon shows that 91% of caregivers prefer to use app-based technologies over antiquated pen-to-paper learning methods.

What advantages does eLearning bring to homecare agencies?

I think Nevvon’s company mission says it all: Better training leads to better care. After surveying both administrators and caregivers in the home care industry, we found that eLearning offers many advantages over classroom training, such as it being less expensive, more standardized, accessible 24/7, and overall more efficient.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve seen in getting caregivers to use eLearning? How do you help agencies solve it?

We have found it challenging as there are companies that design eLearning as-one-size-fits all. When designing instruction, you need to focus on the user and their unique abilities, motivations, and goals. It’s crucial for us to build eLearning experiences that enable caregivers to learn in the most engaging and effective way possible. We do this by learning as much as we can about the caregivers’ goals, preferences, and backgrounds through surveys and by using a learning platform that collects data on behavior.

Homecare agencies can overcome caregiver resistance to eLearning by offering incentive programs, enlisting the help of caregivers to mentor others that may be struggling, and just by taking small steps and staying patient.

Do you think we’ll continue to see growth in the use of eLearning technologies even after the pandemic?

Research suggests that online learning increases the retention of information and takes less time. It also helps reduce training costs and increase efficiencies for home care agencies. Given the benefits that eLearning can bring, I believe that the rapid move to online learning brought on by COVID-19 will continue.

What are some of the main challenges homecare agencies are facing right now in dealing with COVID-19?

By far and wide the biggest challenge is finding enough quality caregivers.  Many caregivers are fearful of going out into the community or do not have the right information on how to keep themselves and others safe during this pandemic.  Pre-pandemic, there was a magnifying recruitment and retention issue, and this has only been exacerbated by misleading information surrounding COVID-19 and the vaccine.

In terms of the vaccine, the challenges to date have been hesitancy, and more practical concerns like not being able to take time off work, or maybe not feeling well after the first dose. It is totally reasonable that caregivers will have questions and concerns about these new vaccines. It is our job as healthcare leaders to help caregivers differentiate between misinformation and the truth.

How can homecare agencies support caregivers who may be hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is so much misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. I was speaking to one home health aide who was hesitant about being one of the first in his agency to get vaccinated. I had asked him how many individuals he thought had been vaccinated to date globally. His answer was in the thousands. When I told him tens of millions of people have already been vaccinated, his viewpoint quickly changed.

It is crucial to educate caregivers with plain-language training and to lead by example.

What is Nevvon doing to promote COVID-19 safety?

In March of 2020, Nevvon was one of the first organizations to offer free COVID-19 training. We’ve made a commitment to ourselves to provide quality, reliable information on the virus and regularly update the training as new guidance and information become available.

This month we launched free COVID-19 vaccination training because we have an obligation as members of the homecare community to be part of the solution.  The training is currently available in English, Spanish, and Russian, and more languages are coming soon.

Our goal is to have homecare leaders share the training with their frontline workers and to have it reach 100,000 caregivers.

On behalf of Nevvon, HHAeXchange encourages every homecare agency to share the free COVID-19 vaccination training with their staff and caregivers. You can access the Nevvon training here.