If your home health organization is having a hard time attracting and retaining qualified home health aides, you’re not alone.
Home health aide turnover has long been an industry concern, but several factors are at play to increase the pressure. They include increased demand as more baby boomers reach retirement age, workers in the industry retiring, sicker older Americans with more comorbidities who need professional care, and uncertainty over immigration issues, as noted in a recent article from NPR.
Research from CareerCast.com on the 10 toughest jobs to fill lists home health aides at No. 4 and personal care aides at No. 8. The job site uses statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with data from professional and trade associations, graduations, and the site’s own job listings.
As a home health executive, you certainly are juggling multiple priorities. However, recruitment and retention ranked as the top challenge for home care executives in Change Healthcare’s 2017 Organization Opportunities and Challenges Executive Survey.
More than six out of 10 executives mentioned recruitment and retention, which outranked declining reimbursements (51%) and cost containment (44%). It’s interesting to note that recruitment didn’t crack the top three in the 2014 survey, although the other two issues did.
Divergence of opinions
The NPR article covers both sides of the U.S. immigration debate. The founder and CEO of a company where people can hire aides directly, CareLinx, said the issue already is hitting home for him. “It takes a very special person to want to do these jobs,” says Sherwin Sheik. “They tend to be immigrants. If we have tighter policies, it’s going to impact the industry, without a doubt.”
The director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports immigration restrictions, notes that 75% of home care providers were born in the United States. “There’s no mystery to what it would take to increase that percentage,” says Steven Camerota. “Raise wages. Treat workers better.”
What you can do
It may be no consolation to know that healthcare providers elsewhere are facing similar issues. However, it’s useful to study what other organizations are doing to recruit and retain healthcare workers. Check with your peer organizations, local, state, and regional home health associations to find out what’s working.
One of the ways you can help improve retention is by giving field staff the right tools that let them easily document the care they provide. MobileCare, which works with Homecare Advisor™ and Hospice Advisor™, is our mobile application that can be used on an iPhone to help improve staff efficiency through precise directions and on-the-go communications for aides, other paraprofessionals, and clinical staff. It also allows for electronic visit verification, a requirement for many states for Medicare and/or Medicaid patients.
Billie Whitehurst R.N. is Executive Vice President, Extended Care and Care Operations at Change Healthcare
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