The U.S. Labor Department predicts the home health care profession will grow by nearly 50%, or the equivalent of nearly a million new jobs, by 2022. That is nearly five times the average for all other occupations. One of the principal challenges among home health care organizations and franchises to meet the growing demands of this burgeoning sector is finding and retaining qualified home health employees. The annual employee turnover rate in home health care ranges between 40% and 65%, according to a recent survey of 700 home health care company participants conducted by PHI National and published by Home Care Pulse. This means that more than 50% of those working as home health care providers — including CNAs, nurse’s aides, and personal care aides — quit or are fired in any given year. In addition, research conducted by Caregiver Quality Assurance® indicates that it costs $1,576.24 to replace an employee each time when you account for hiring costs, onboarding costs, and lost opportunity costs. This doesn’t include the loss of reputation and customer satisfaction.
The high turnover in home health care and the costs involved underscore the importance for organizations to reduce turnover and keep their best caregivers. How can home health care firms help ensure quality hires and employee retention? Following are several ways for employees to hire right, and keep employees happy and part of their organization:
- Provide details in the job descriptions. Be sure when recruiting for a home health care position that the advertisement includes specific details and job requirements to avoid receiving a high number of resumes and applicants that don’t fit the bill.
- Briefly describe benefits in the ads. Quality caregivers know their value, therefore advertise if the pay is good or if flexible hours are available. Mention any health benefits or bonus programs in place.
- Advertise in the right places. Advertise at CNA schools, post jobs on the home health care agency’s website, and use current caregivers as a network for referrals.
- Experience counts. Find individuals who have prior home care experience. They will know what the position entails and may be well suited to get started with minimal training.
- Obtain referrals. Speak with a few people with whom selected applicants have worked before or to whom they have provided home care. Inquire about how attentive they were on the job.
- Check backgrounds. To get great caregivers at the home health care agency, it’s an absolute must to run thorough background checks at the federal, state and local level. The safety and wellbeing of clients are at stake as well as the reputation of your home care agency and other staff.
Employee Retention Practices
- Implement a well-designed onboarding process: Integrating new employees into the organization, preparing them to succeed at their job and to become fully engaged helps to turn a new hire into a dedicated long-term employee.
- Provide peer mentoring: Have mentors guide new hires through the first few months. This will help workers feel more connected to the people they care for and the organization itself. Workers can talk to peers about procedures and practices they may be unsure of, about challenging clients, or about the difficulties of balancing work and home responsibilities.
- Listen to caregivers. A negative work environment in home health care, just as in any profession, contributes to a caregiver’s unhappiness. If a caregiver complains about an unprofessional, rude, or violent client, pay attention and act quickly. Be sure to fully understand the situation and remove the caregiver from any setting that is deemed inappropriate. Be willing to put the needs of the caregiver first, letting go of any clients who threaten a caregiver’s safety, letting him or her know that the organization will be his/her advocate in difficult situations.
- Show appreciation and recognition. Survey after survey indicates that the number-one way to retain caregivers is to let them know how much they’re appreciated and to recognize their hard work. Caregivers prefer to receive this recognition verbally by their supervisors.
- Reinforce a caregiver’s sense of value through ongoing training. Some health care agencies are implementing training beyond the basic requirements as another way to improve the quality of care and reduce turnover. Workers will first go through a few weeks of hands-on training and don’t meet with clients on their own until they feel comfortable. Other agencies take a broader view, offering home health aides a career where they can branch out into a specialty. Caregivers are given an opportunity to complete additional training and focus on, for example, patients with dementia or those who are developmentally disabled. This extra training can translate into extra pay down the road.
- Match the right caregiver with the right client. When this is possible, there will be a better chance at creating a meaningful, long-term client relationship. Clients are happy when they have a caregiver they know and trust. Meanwhile, a caregiver is happier because he/she is in a work environment that he/she enjoys.
Caregivers are the frontline of home health care businesses and getting and keeping quality employees is critical to the success and continued growth of this industry as it faces increased demands. Having solid recruiting, hiring and general employment practices in place also helps stem the potential of workplace disputes such as allegations of discrimination, wrongful termination, or other issues. Additionally, a strong Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) program should be secured to address and respond to these types of disputes. EPLI coverage can pay for the legal defense costs, settlements and damages associated with employment practices allegations.
Manchester Specialty Programs is a leading provider of comprehensive insurance programs for the home health care industry, including management liability insurance coverages such as Employment Practices Liability Insurance. In addition, we offer risk management services from our carrier partners to help with employment screening, verification and background checks and overall human resources management. To learn more about our programs for the home health care industry, please contact us at 855.972.9399.