New HCAOA Executive Director Looks to Grow Membership, Strengthen Home Care’s Data Capabilities

The Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) is undergoing a leadership shakeup.

The Washington, D.C.-based trade group announced Tuesday that long-time home care leader Vicki Hoak is taking over as executive director. Hoak takes over the role previously filled by Phil Bongiorno.

Moving forward, Hoak will be tasked with helping U.S. home care providers navigate the continued expansion of Medicare Advantage (MA) and ongoing caregiver shortage. She officially joins HCAOA this month, at which point Hoak will begin to take stock of members’ top challenges, opportunities and hopes for the organization. 

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Founded in 2002, HCAOA represents nearly 3,000 companies that employ more than 500,000 caregivers.

Before taking on major issues, Hoak’s first order of business will be working to further increase HCAOA’s membership and visibility, the new ED told Home Health Care News.

“This sector of the home-based care industry has a wonderful future, so I’m excited about moving our agenda, which includes increasing our membership,” Hoak said. “Trade associations are better when they speak with one voice but have many voices behind them. I also want to increase our visibility both at a federal and [state] level.”

Growing HCAOA’s membership and general policymaking position is something Hoak is well-positioned to do.

Previously, she served as CEO of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, where she helped increase membership by 700% while also creating the Pennsylvania Home Care and Human Services Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund

“I was at the Pennsylvania Homecare Association for 20 years,” Hoak said. “State home care associations represent hospices, home health as well as non-medical [home care]. I’m really proud that … our membership was half Medicare home health and hospice, and the other half home care agencies. We were absolutely the driving force to get licensure for our home care agencies.”

Currently, HCAOA’s No. 1 challenge is the caregiver shortage.

As the baby-boom population ages, the employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 36% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We are having trouble recruiting and retaining home care aides,” Hoak said. “In the next few months, we hope to convene a group of industry leaders to come together and talk about what we can do to improve recruitment, retention, training and elevating the profession of [caregiver].”

The median caregiver turnover rate jumped to 82% in 2018, according to Home Care Pulse. As a result, the industry has been forced to come up with creative solutions to counter this all-time high, including the launch of academic-based training centers and the adoption of specialized care programs.

While the caregiver shortage is the topic of most agency conversations, Hoak’s attention is also focused on what gaining and leveraging useful data could mean for the industry. 

“Being able to show data that proves we can improve the outcomes for people, that proves we can keep people at home safely — and that they can live better and healthier lives — is important,” she said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) continued its efforts to expand non-medical in-home care services as a benefit under MA in April when it issued guidance for 2020.

“We are going to have to prove that these services can impact outcomes and quality of life in a way that is cost-effective,” Hoak said. “This ties back to data.”

Looking ahead to other future plans, Hoak additionally stressed the importance of growing the overall understanding of the home care sector to those outside of the industry.

“We must prove our value,” she said. “Agencies that bring non-medical care into the home are critically important to the health care continuum.”

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