Three Ways to Beat the Home Health Labor Shortage

It’s clear the home health and home care industries are facing a labor shortage. What isn’t as clear is what companies can do about it.

That’s not to say industry professionals aren’t trying to solve the problem, however. A panel of experts that included Bayada Home Health Care’s chief recruitment officer shared winning recruitment strategies for post-acute providers at this year’s Post Acute Link conference in Chicago on June 12.

Here are a few takeaways:

Create a Career Ladder 

Many providers have long sought to attract and retain millennial workers. As much as 60% of a typical company’s active workforce is looking for a new job or open to taking one, said Melinda Phillips, chief recruiting officer of Bayada Home Health Care, one of the nation’s largest home health providers. And that includes millennials.

Though, they’re not keeping an eye open for other work simply to jump ship. Instead, millennials are hunting for that next step forward in their careers.

“They’re not leaving because they’re unhappy, they’re leaving for opportunity,” Phillips explained.

To keep millennial workers from leaving, providers must show them there are ways to advance within the company. Otherwise, millennials are likely to leave within the first three years of employment.

“We have to…paint a vision that there’s a future when you come into home care,” Phillips said. “There are opportunities to grow, to become an educator, to help others.”

Harness Labor Resources

One of the simplest ways to retain workers is to boost wages, according to Randy Richardson, president of senior living provider Vi. When that’s not possible due to budgetary constraints, providers might also consider restructuring.

Richardson pointed to a “creative experiment” at Abe’s Garden, a standalone memory care community in Nashville, Tennessee. Essentially, Abe’s Garden gave some of its employees a pay bump while cutting its overall workforce. In return, employees who got a raise took on some new responsibilities, he explained.

“They said, we’re paying you more money, but you’re going to have to do your job differently,” Richardson recalled. “They were able to cut staff and do the same job, and buy a little bit [of a] higher wage for their existing employees.”

Though the Chicago-based senior housing provider Vi hasn’t implemented this idea, Richardson said it was certainly worth examining.

“The jury is still out on the results, but they had higher level of engagement for those employees that were there because they’re getting a little bit more out of their paycheck,” he added.

Try Block Scheduling

One common complaint among home health workers is having an unpredictable schedule. Some days workers might spend eight, 10 or 12 hours in the home, leaving room for little else in the day. That’s why Pediatric Home Service, an independent home health care agency in Minnesota, uses block scheduling for 70% of its workforce, according to Judy Giel, chief clinical officer of Pediatric Home Service.

Through block scheduling, caregivers know which days they’ll work and which days they’ll have off. For example, an employee might have Wednesday and Thursday off every week in a particular month, making it easier for them to spend time with their families, go to the doctor or relax, Giel said.

“We knew predictable schedules were important to them, so we created block schedules,” she explains. “Every four months, you have an opportunity to input different requests for your scheduling, and if it meets all of the criteria that leadership has created, then the scheduling committee approves it.”

Written by Tim Regan

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Tim Regan
Tim is a lover of bad jokes and good beer. When he's not hunched over his work computer, Tim can usually be found hunched over his personal computer.