Top Caregiver Recruiting Challenges in Home Care

Finding the right people is hard, but that doesn’t mean home care businesses are feeling gloomy about their ability to recruit home caregivers, according to a recent study.

The outlook for hiring among home care business owners remains optimistic, as 76% of private duty agencies are expecting to hire more caregivers this year than in 2015, a recent survey from CareInHomes Caregivers revealed. However, even as home care companies see a need for growth, there are still some significant hurdles when finding additional caregivers.

Despite growing demand, caregiver shortages remain as the top problem agencies face today. A whopping 70% of agencies said this was their biggest challenge in 2016, followed by caregiver turnover, which 53% of agencies agreed was a top challenge.

CareInHomes Caregivers is one company working to battle these challenges as a service that connects home care companies with caregivers. The company was launched in 2015 and receives more than 20,000 caregiver applications per month. CareInHomes surveyed a number of private duty home care agencies, the majority of which employed fewer than 50 caregivers.

While rising wage costs have recently become a more significant problem for home care agencies, when it comes to recruiting, a lack of qualified candidates is the most difficult factor in the process for 55% of survey respondents. Paying competitive wages, by comparison, was only named as the biggest factor making recruiting caregivers difficult by 9% of agencies.

“The Fight for $15 is a common concern you hear from agencies,” Hank McWhorter, director at CareInHomes, told Home Health Care News. “But paying competitive wages came in at the bottom.”

The second biggest problem in recruiting was finding caregivers who are within close proximity to clients, yet the problem still paled in comparison to the top factor.

“Rarely does a professional caregiver live on the same street as a client,” the survey explains.

Only 16% of agencies said this was the top recruiting issue.

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Who’s Qualified?

When it comes to the right qualifications, the legal requirements for private duty caregivers is relatively low in many states, according to CareInHomes. Despite this, what home care businesses consider as “qualified” workers can vary and impose some challenges to hiring the right people. In other words, a lack of applicants isn’t the problem, but a lack of candidates who meet an agency’s individual definition of qualified.

“The definition of ‘qualified’ varies by agency and state,” the survey reads. “Some focus on soft skills, other agencies require a certain amount of experience, and in some states there are certification requirements.”

The top quality that home care companies look for in a caregiver is someone who is compassionate and personable. An overwhelming majority—82%—said this is the most important quality in a potential hire.

“No one is worried about a lack of applicants, but agencies are not getting the people they want,” McWhorter said. “The overwhelming majority of respondents said the person should be compassionate and personable. That is probably the hardest thing to figure out is someone has that quality. …It’s not that they are not qualified. It is how the individual agency is defining it, and that changes drastically from agency to agency.”

Having reliable transportation and a driver’s license was another top quality, followed by a CNA certification. Without the ability to drive oneself and certification in some areas, these qualities could limit the pool of applicants. CareInHomes helps agencies match with potential caregivers in part based on their proximity.

Despite these challenges, home care companies are still optimistic the industry is ripe for growth, as only 1% of companies in the survey said they could imagine making fewer hires this year. However, as more agencies plan to hire more, they will need to continually be recruiting to combat high turnover rates.

“The vast majority said they will need to hire more,” McWhorter said. “They know they will need more caregivers, and may have to hire 1.5 caregivers to just stay in the same spot year after year [to combat turnover]. That’s alarming right there.”

Written by Amy Baxter