Recruiting Challenges in Home Healthcare

Updated: Mar 28

We are all living in unprecedented times, experiencing life that we have never seen before. While some things are changing, some parts remind us of our past, like the challenge of recruiting home healthcare workers. In 2019, the US had about 2.3 million workers in home care. Yes, home healthcare industries find it tough to retain their employees, but the issue does not start there. The mission to hire and recruit is equally as challenging.


Home care/home health care workers include, but are not limited to:

  • Home Health Aides

  • Personal Care Aides

  • Caregivers

  • Nurses

  • Certified Nursing Assistants

  • Therapists


Reasons why it is hard to recruit


The home healthcare industry is not easy. The workload is burdensome with low wages and minimal benefits, and the working conditions are challenging. The schedules are inconsistent, and many face emotional burnouts. Many also don’t want to deal with the stress of taking care of patients.

For many years, even before the pandemic had begun, home healthcare agencies were already struggling to hire workers to keep up with the demand. One of the challenges that home care providers endure in the US is recruiting caregivers.


How the pandemic made hiring difficult


During the pandemic, many businesses and restaurants had to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To help Canadian citizens, the government designed benefits, like the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) and Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) for those who lost their job and income. This benefit was critical to helping support Canadians when they needed it the most. However, there are always two sides to a coin.


Just like Canada, to support Americans, the US implemented a $300 weekly unemployment bonus for those who weren’t able to work, even after the measures for the pandemic had stopped. Many workers don't want to return to work, and many home care agencies feel that hiring aides is like a job that is full-time. Due to the unemployment bonuses, individuals are making more or similar to if they were to work, so many people don’t want to work. Many individuals are unemployed, but it is still immensely challenging to find home care workers because of their low wages and lack of benefits.


The threat of COVID-19 is another reason why home health care workers are not looking for jobs or have the desire to return. Many workers are afraid that they will catch the virus and worry that they will infect their loved ones and patients. The pandemic has caused many to stall with their job search, and employers in healthcare agencies are becoming frantic. 9.7% of the job postings for personal and home health care contain the word urgent in them (Pandey, 2021). The pandemic has put the world on hold by the various lockdowns. Schools and childcare centres had to close, and many workers with children choose to take care of their family, then look for work, or go back to work.


Lack of incentives


There are very few incentives for home healthcare workers to continue to work in this industry. The issue of retaining is very similar to hiring. Home healthcare workers, like home health aides, are paid low salaries, their hours are inconsistent, and they face dangerous work. In the United States, the hourly wage for a home health aid is roughly $11.57 in 2018. To put that into perspective, that is about a median annual salary of $24,200.


Direct care workers earned an average hourly wage of $12.80 in 2019, compared to $12.61 in 2009. The salary for personal care or home health aide is about $20,000, and 90% of these workers earn below $30,000 (Oh, 2017). Despite how demanding the job is, home healthcare workers are one of the lowest-paid in the US, where they make about the same as workers in the fast-food industry.


Not valued enough


During this pandemic, we are grateful for all the frontline workers that have worked so hard to serve every one of us. Nurses and doctors have worked tirelessly and are risking their own lives every day and deserve all the support and appreciation, yet, they only “represent less than 20% of all essential health workers” (Kinder, 2020). There is another group of healthcare workers who are often not seen or appreciated. Medical assistants, home health aides, nursing assistants are all those that work alongside doctors and nurses and risk their lives every day.

Home healthcare workers are often overlooked. Typically, doctors and nurses are the first occupations that come to mind when one thinks of healthcare workers. Many home healthcare workers receive little recognition, prestige, low pay, and very little access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), although they too are risking their lives to serve citizens and in healthcare.


Since the beginning of the pandemic, there were many times where we would hear that in hospitals, PPE was scarce, but the issue is much worse in the home care industry. With PPE and testing, the priority list starts with hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, and then home care providers (Gleckman, 2020).

According to a survey in March of 2020, which consisted of 1,200 home care workers, it highlighted that 77% of them didn’t have a sufficient amount of masks, and 57% didn’t have enough gloves (Woods, 2020).

In the US, a few states required care workers to have paid leave when they tested positive for the virus, but workers in home care were left out (Gleckman, 2020). The reality is, home care workers are not seen as essential, even though they are. In December of 2020 and January of 2021, an interview illustrated that home care workers had limited access to the COVID-19 vaccine because they were not considered essential workers across many states.


How we can help


Gaining employee feedback is very important for employers because they gain insights into what steps they need to take to improve their employee’s overall experience. When employees are happy, the reputation of that company improves, making recruiting easier.


Retainify is an employee engagement software that offers a unified solution that allows you to track employee sentiment and measure engagement in real-time. Collect employee feedback throughout their employment lifecycle. Proactively identify issues that are preventing them from being their best at work. Highly engaged employees create high performing organizations. Improve business outcomes by improving the employee experience, and enhance company culture one feedback at a time. Turn Feedback into Action.


Questions or Feedback?

Contact Us: hello@retainify.com



 

Citations:

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  2. Campbell, A. (2019, August 21). Home health aides care for the elderly. Who will care for them? Retrieved July 27, 2021, fromhttps://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/8/21/20694768/home-health-aides-elder-care

  3. Canada Revenue Agency. (2021, July 30). Government of Canada. Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) - Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-benefit.html.

  4. Famakinwa, J. (2021, March 24). Why Boosting Home Care Wages Now Could Offset Labor Losses Later. Home Health Care News. https://homehealthcarenews.com/2021/03/why-boosting-home-care-wages-now-could-offset-labor-losses-later/

  5. Galewitz, P. (2021, June 30). Desperate for home care, seniors often wait months with workers in short supply. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/desperate-for-home-care-seniors-often-wait-months-with-workers-in-short-supply

  6. Gleckman, H. (2020, April 16). Home Care Agencies And Workers Are The Next Ground Zero For COVID-19. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2020/04/16/home-care-agencies-and-workers-are-the-next-ground-zero-for-covid-19/?sh=6b5a46036f05

  7. Holly, R. (2020, September 13). Home Care No Longer a Job Seeker's Market, New Data Suggests. Home Health Care News. https://homehealthcarenews.com/2020/09/home-care-no-longer-a-job-seekers-market-new-data-suggests/

  8. Hostetter, M., & Klein, S. (2021, July 1). Placing a Higher Value on Direct Care Workers. Commonwealth Fund. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/2021/jul/placing-higher-value-direct-care-workers

  9. Ireton, J. (2021, March 18). Home-care workers say low wages are driving them out of the sector. CBC news. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/home-care-workers-poorly-paid-shortage-gender-race-issue-1.5953597

  10. Kinder, M. (2020, May 28). Essential but undervalued: Millions of health care workers aren't getting the pay or respect they deserve in the COVID-19 pandemic. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/essential-but-undervalued-millions-of-health-care-workers-arent-getting-the-pay-or-respect-they-deserve-in-the-covid-19-pandemic

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  14. Ollstein, A. M., & Kenen, J. (2020, March 5). Disabled, elderly going without home care amid shortage of protective gear and tests. POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/03/home-care-coronavirus-229723

  15. Pandey, E. (2021, July 22). Employers are getting more desperate to fill jobs. Axios. https://www.axios.com/employers-desperate-worker-openings-8dcad7c2-0844-40a1-9ff6-2477ef3dadad.html

  16. Potts, M. (2021, April 22). The Crisis in Home Care. The New Republic. https://newrepublic.com/article/161920/home-healthcare-elderly-care-crisis.

  17. Romero, L., & Bhatt, J. (2021, May 21). Pandemic has made shortage of health care workers even worse, say experts. ABC news. https://abcnews.go.com/US/pandemic-made-shortage-health-care-workers-worse-experts/story?id=77811713

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  19. Woods, B. (2020, April 14). Home health-care workers in US at tipping point amid coronavirus outbreak. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/14/home-health-care-workers-at-tipping-point-amid-coronavirus-outbreak.html



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