Throughout home care’s ongoing staffing shortage, agencies have deployed a number of tactics to recruit caregivers. Some have even begun looking outside of the home care talent pool altogether.
And with good reason. Roughly 599,800 openings for home health and personal care aides are projected on average each year, over the next decade, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In order to fill these roles, providers will need to widen the talent pool.
“[Home care] typically looks for people who are already familiar with the work of caregiving. We think of this as ‘the ideal caregiver,’” Helen Adeosun, CEO and founder of CareAcademy, told Home Health Care News. “Therein lies the challenge, as we’re in the midst of a shortage exacerbated by the pandemic. There’s a need, on a much larger basis, for us to reshape and rethink who we’re going after — and who gets to become a caregiver.”
CareAcademy is a Boston-based training platform for home care professionals. The company currently serves roughly 1,000 home care clients and locations.
Broadly, home care providers have begun searching for potential caregivers within other service-oriented labor pools, including the retail, hospitality and restaurant sectors.
When CareAcademy launched its “Future of Work is Home Care” program in 2020, the company saw, firsthand, that there were a number of workers looking to enter the home care market. The aim of the program was to re-skill new workers for the home care industry.
“There were a number of people who came from businesses that had shuttered or temporarily closed because of the pandemic and … wanted to find a way to get to a health care-related job,” Adeosun said.
One company, Right at Home Gainesville, has fully leaned into this strategy of taking on “non-traditional” caregivers.
“I have always been quite interested in looking at the role and responsibility for whatever position that I’m hiring,” Pete Morrissey, co-owner of Right At Home Gainesville, told HHCN. “I’m not so focused on the person’s prior experience. I’m much more interested in whether they bring the requisite skill set, the requisite attention to detail and a willingness to engage. We’re really taking an industry-agnostic approach to hiring.”
Right at Home Gainesville is part of of the lager Right at Home franchise system.
Founded in 1995, the Omaha, Nebraska-based Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities across its more than 600 franchise locations in the U.S. and seven other countries.
Right at Home Gainesville employs roughly 75 caregivers and offers personal care, companion care and specialty care.
Right at Home Gainesville’s “industry agnostic” approach in relation to recruiting has forced the company to value transferable skills that would be useful for someone looking to work in home care, according to Morrissey.
“One caregiver we recruited had come from a manufacturing line,” he said. “[In her previous role], she worked the morning shift and had to be there at 5:30 a.m. This was strenuous work, and she was on her feet all the time. One of the most critical attributes of a successful caregiver is reliability. We make a commitment to a client, … and if we don’t show up that’s highly detrimental to our client.”
While Morrissey believes that work ethic, engagement and willingness to learn are attributes that often trump prior home care experience, Right at Home Gainesville still makes it a priority to ensure that non-traditional caregivers entering home care for the first time are properly trained.
The company utilizes a variety of tools and training tactics, including working with CareAcademy for virtual courses and in-person demonstrations.
“We hire CNAs all the time, and when we do the skills training we have an expectation that they’re quite familiar with a Hoyer Lift,” Morrissey said. “What we hear from some CNAs is, ‘Yes, we saw it, but we never really touched it, so this is fantastic that we can actually move a real person with the Hoyer.’ That’s just one example of hands-on training.”
Right at Home Gainesville also has new caregivers shadow experienced ones during shifts as part of the company’s onboarding process.
“[We] make sure that we have a smooth integration process,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey also noted that new caregivers would typically only be matched with clients that request companion care.
“[We make sure] we’re matching the client’s need to the level of the ability of the caregiver,” he said. “This is a proactive method we have for making sure we’re meeting our commitment and requirements to deliver excellence and care for the client. This also ensures that the caregiver is comfortable and confident in his or her delivery of those services.”
Looking ahead, Adeosun believes home care providers need to be vocal in order to get those outside of home care to see the opportunity.
“The work of caregiving is largely unseen because it happens in people’s homes,” she said. “It doesn’t look like an opportunity, because people don’t know it as one. I think that’s really the first challenge. The first challenge to overcome is, how do we make sure people know that this is an opportunity they can take part in?”