Special Training Improves Retention of Home Health Workers

Despite home health care ranking among the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S., turnover for home health and personal care aides is around 40% to 65% each year, making retention a huge challenge for the industry.

Cue: training initiatives.

According to new research, home health aides who take part in training initiatives are more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to stay with them.

Specifically, an evaluation of the Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI) — a new, multi-year, foundation-funded training and employment initiative for aides serving elders in New York City — found that home health aides who graduated from the program had “demonstrably higher” retention rates compared to those who did not take part in the training. 

The program, designed and directed by the Paraprofessional Health Care Institute (PHI), is meant to improve the skills, job satisfaction and retention of the entry-level home health aide workforce as a strategy for improving the quality of home care for older adults. The curriculum includes health care content, clinical/personal care skills and communication and problem solving strategies, and involves hands-on learning.

“Good training with the right curricula and employment supports for entry-level home care aides is critical to building the adequate, stable home care workforce our nation needs to meet rapidly increasing demand for the in-home services and supports these essential workers provide,” said Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of PHI, in a statement.

As previous reports indicate, the home health care industry has become a draw for less educated workers, who account for nearly 49% of the total health care workforce in the nation’s largest metro areas. But as turnover rises, some providers are finding that operations are not sustainable without taking further measures to increase retention. 

“The evaluation provides strong evidence that the HAWI adult learner-centered training model adequately prepares entry-level home care workers for the job, allowing for high levels of job satisfaction and confidence about their work. These aides are more likely to remain on the job,” Sturgeon said. 

More than 500 newly hired home health aides graduated from HAWI. Of those graduates, 228 completed a three-month follow-up survey and 91% reported they were either “very satisfied” (62%) or “satisfied” (29%) with their jobs. According to the program’s evaluation, these findings suggest the HAWI training was effective in setting the aides’ expectations about the work.

“We believe that a logical chain of association can be traced from the HAWI model — particularly its carefully implemented training component — to the satisfaction, confidence, and expectations of the training graduates and the superior three- and six-month retention rates of HAWI new hires,” according to an independent evaluation conducted by the Center for Home Care Policy & Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York. 

Access the evaluation’s findings here

Written by Emily Study

Emily Study
  • Interesting article. I wonder if HHA’s would be amenable to having wage parity funds allocated to them to be directed towards educational programs such as these. Could potentially see more qualified HHA’s and more prepared home health workers – and potentially happier home healthcare workers.

    At any rate, thanks for sharing.