Competition for qualified home care talent is rising, with a 150% increase in healthcare jobs posted from the beginning to the end of August (Apploi, 2020). Along with increased competition for talent, the talent pool itself has become diluted as 1 in 3 workers are turning to health care job opportunities from other industries.
It's a Job Seeker's Market for High Quality Caregivers
Attracting and retaining qualified caregivers has always been a challenge for the home care business. But, in recent months, with pandemic pressures, this challenge has been bumped to the top of the mission-critical-issues-to-attend-to list. Although attrition rates in the home care space have reduced from an all-time high of 82% in 2018, to 64% in 2019 as the result of better pay and an increase in high-quality training and certification programs, these tumultuous times have left staffing to be a cause for concern (Home Care Pulse, 2020).
With the rise of COVID-19 cases, there have been increased pressures on staffing:
- Caregivers who can afford to limit their hours are choosing to do so rather than risk spreading or getting the illness
- Caregivers in some regions are required to limit the number of clients they care for
- Residential and acute care facilities are limiting exposure to external contractors in some regions, and
- Some clients and their families are even asking to limit the number of caregivers that care for their loved ones or outright cancelling contracts.
Now more than ever, it is time for home care owners to demonstrate that their caregivers will be well-supported, and it's time to invest in the work-experience, wellness, and development of caregivers.
It's time to give them more reasons to choose your business and even better reasons to stay.
Innovators and disruptors are showing how it's done
Despite the significant challenges posed by the pandemic, we are seeing that it's the inspiring innovators and system disruptors that are coming out ahead - they are leaning into changes that will help them get through and then amplify their potential on the other side of this challenge.
Mark Goetz, HomeCare Advocacy Network:
Mark Goetz is the founder of the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN), which he started to guide and support senior living providers as they enter the home care market to deliver continuing care at home (CCAH). In a recent interview, Mark, a long-time executive in the home care industry, discussed two keys to attracting and retaining talent in uncertain times like these: the first is for home care businesses to take a step back from the day to day and actually work on their business. This can seem impossible when the day-to-day is so challenging, but investing in streamlining operations, in strengthening the "front line", and giving them the resources and tools to succeed, by providing coaching, developing their skills, and giving them a way to stay connected and engaged with the office and families is worth the time and effort.
“ Never underestimate the power of having another human say, 'You're important, I value you. I'm taking time out of my day to let you know that I value you, and I'm here with you. ”
- Mark Goetz, Chief Executive Officer at the HomeCare Advocacy Network
Second, a feeling of connection to the families of the clients they support is also a real difference-maker. Home care organizations need to find a way to make caregiver and client connections happen and let that drive their mission forward - technology can really help augment this connection and make it even better.
Sandi Heintz, Right at Home, Northwest Houston:
Sandi Heintz is the Chief Executive Officer and Owner of Right at Home Northwest Houston. Located in Texas, a region significantly impacted by COVID, Sandi has dealt with the fear and uncertainty of her clients, their families, and her caregivers. Through it all, though, Sandi has committed to creating a workplace where her team feels well-supported and connected. Sandi attributes the feeling of security to the transparent communications she has had with her team from the very beginning, and the technology that she invested in to empower, engage with, and connect her team to the people and resources that make a big difference in their day-to-day work experience.
“ From the beginning, we made it clear to our team that we would have their back and would do everything we could do to keep them safe. ”
- Sandi Heintz, Chief Executive Officer and Owner at Right at Home Northwest Houston
Where many home care owners are staying the course, anxious about making changes that will become the "last straw" for their employees, owners like Sandi are saying yes, rallying support, trusting the team, supporting them through it, and showing us that with good leadership and an innovative mindset, it's not only possible to get through this challenge - it's possible to thrive through it.
Is change hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.
Both Mark and Sandi provide examples of how home care leaders are innovating in different ways to adapt to the changing landscape. What they have both realized is that no matter what path you take, the key is to invest in the front line. This requires support, connection, acknowledgement, development, and unwavering commitment to their well-being. Leaders who can demonstrate that they have the best interests of their caregivers at heart will not only attract the best of the best - they'll retain them.