‘Focus on the Little Things’: Tips for Attracting Caregivers During the COVID-19 Crisis

Home-based care agencies are increasingly looking to build a workforce environment that will attract caregivers and get them to stay on the job.

While new data has suggested the rapidly changing labor market could work in favor of home-based care providers attempting to hire, even the most successful agencies continue to report recruiting and retention struggles.

With more technology at agencies’ disposal reaching out to caregivers has gotten easier.


But staffing success begins with culture within an organization, Donald Robinson, the senior recruiter for Southfield, Michigan-based Arcadia Home Care & Staffing, said on a recent webinar hosted by myCNAjobs, a professional caregiver network that offers recruitment tools and reports for hiring.

“We think it’s important to focus on the little things,” Robinson said. “A good starting point is to build a culture where caregivers feel that this is somewhere where they want to be, and this is somewhere where they feel comfortable and are appreciated.”

Finding the way caregivers want to communicate, whether that’s via phone call, email or text is a way to meet them where they are. Finding the right time of day to reach out to them is also important, especially if they’re working multiple jobs, which many caregivers are.


Arcadia, which was acquired by Frisco, Texas-based Addus HomeCare Corp. (Nasdaq: ADUS) in 2018, also has built reward recognition programs to show appreciation for its workers on a monthly basis.

Culture and creating a common language among all staff should be the biggest focus of a home care organization, Mike Ferraina, the CEO of Philadelphia-based Jevs Care at Home, also said on the webinar.

“One of the things that came from all the work that we’ve been putting in is trying to have a common language among all the staff,” Ferraina said. “I feel like it’s really important, especially in regards to recruiting, that all employees or potential employees feel like they’re [receiving] the same deal from the organization.”

How to attract caregivers

There’s generally an active caregiver market right now, but the number of jobs a caregiver applies to while searching has decreased, according to myCNAjobs. In other words, in the past, a caregiver may have applied to five or six jobs in one job-searching session pre-COVID-19.

Now, they spend a longer time searching and may apply to just one or two jobs in a single session.

Agencies may only have one chance to grab the attention of a caregiver. Usually, those workers are applying to more than one job, so standing out is paramount.

Arcadia, for instance, displays the features and benefits of the job either in the title or in the first two sentences of the listing. Whatever perks the company has to offer, it needs to make those recognizable to caregivers that are job seeking.

One tip for online recruiting is to track what’s working and what’s not, just as an agency might for readmissions or fall rates.

“We track everything,” Neal Kursban, the CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Family & Nursing Care, said on the webinar. “We have the dashboard [that tracks] where we advertise and what effectiveness came from it.”

But the relationships that Family & Nursing Care make in their own organization is responsible for most of their caregiver recruitment. The agency relies mostly on referrals to other caregivers from their own.

Arcadia similarly relies on boots-on-the-ground relationships, by establishing rapport with local CNA schools or colleges.

“It’s a two-way street,” Robinson said. “You can refer home health aides that maybe want to move up and get their CNA, and you have that partnership there. And then, in turn, when students graduate … you can recruit and hire them and have that inside track.”

Interview no-shows

Industry show-up rates for interviews are around 60%, according to myCNAjobs. 

Yet Family & Nursing Care has a rate of about 80% in 2020, which has improved during COVID-19 with Zoom and virtual interviews. Initially, the idea of Zoom meeting to hire caregivers made Kursban uneasy.

But it hasn’t made a negative impact on overall patient experience.

“We have not yet — and I’m hoping that remains the case — seen a negative impact on the client survey scores of the new caregivers that we’ve sent out through this new interview experience,” Kursban said.

A reason for the improved interview show-up rate could be that caregivers that are simultaneously working and applying for jobs are more easily able to access a computer or phone during a workday, as opposed to driving across town to get to an in-person interview.

Additionally, the executives on the webinar said that sending automated reminders on the day of the interview via text made a meaningful difference.

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