Hospice Beats Home Care for Nurse Pay, Retention

Staff turnover and wage-related issues have dogged the home care and hospice industries for quite some time. As home care and hospice agencies compete for qualified staff, registered nurses (RNs) looking for work may very well end up choosing the setting that pays the best—and in that sense, home care and hospice are not equals.

On average, registered nurses (RNs) in hospice settings are paid more than RNs in home care settings, according to a recently published report by the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).

Data in the 2016-2017 Hospice Salary & Benefits Report is based on answers to survey questionnaires sent to 635 hospices and hospice programs throughout the country. About 98.27% of the agencies and programs polled were certified by Medicare.


In terms of hourly wage, the national 50th percentile for home care RNs was $30.01 in 2016, the report says. The national 50th percentile for hospice RNs, meanwhile, was $30.46 per hour.

Meanwhile, the national annual turnover rates, or the number of times an agency replaced a position in 12 months, were 18.73% for hospice RNs and 23.52% for home care aides in 2016. For comparison, the national annual turnover rates for hospice RNs and home care aides in 2015 were 20.55% and 20.91%, respectively.

Hospice patients in 2016 stayed in hospice longer than they did in 2015, too. The national average length of hospice stay was 64.13 days in 2016. That’s up from 59.25 days in 2015.


Meanwhile, the CEOs or executive directors of home care agencies tend to be paid more than their hospice counterparts, the report indicates. On average, home care executive directors or CEOs make $170,000 per year; executive directors or CEOs at hospice agencies make an average of $163,927 per year.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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