This article is sponsored by CareAcademy. This article is based on the HHCN Staffing Summit Q&A with Jessica Jones, Care Experience Outcomes Manager at CareAcademy. The Q&A took place virtually on May 25, 2022. The discussion has been edited for length and clarity.
Home Health Care News: This session is titled Education Pathways for Caregivers: An Untapped Opportunity For Employers with CareAcademy.
Today, we are joined by Jessica Jones. Jessica oversees the design and implementation of CareAcademy’s processes for measuring caregiver and care recipient outcomes. She has also co-authored publications with senior researchers who have more than 20 years of experience in long-term care and health-services research concerning older populations.
Jessica Jones: With over 300,000 home care workers trained, we are a market-leading training and compliance solution for home care and home health agencies. Our goal is to help agencies to recruit onboard and train their staff to ensure that their clients and patients can receive high-quality care in the home.
We have a world-class compliance team that provides advanced compliance automation. You never have to worry about whether your employees or your caregivers are compliant with their training.
We also have integrations with leading home care agency management software such as WellSky, AlayaCare, AxisCare. Again, we are wanting to be a one-stop shop where you can manage your employees and their training in one place. Our caregiver training is eligible for college credit. We are all about providing upskilling pathways for caregivers to give them a wealth of opportunity to make a difference in their career.
We do ensure that all of our content and our classes are engaging and they are also mobile-friendly so they can access them on their devices from anywhere whether they’re in the field or in their homes.
In 2021, we launched the CAREer Path Initiative in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, which is a leading credentialing body of nurses in the country. This is a pathway for caregivers to advance their education. Many of our classes can be bundled together to earn college credit, for example, our 20-hour initial training or the home health aide certification or the dementia care certification that we have.
While Southern New Hampshire is a nonprofit university based in Manchester, New Hampshire, they are also fully enabled online. We are not requiring your employees or caregivers to relocate to take advantage of this opportunity. This is something that they can take advantage of anywhere in the country. We’re really excited about this partnership. We launched this with a number of key partners, including VNSNY, Best of Care, Comfort Keepers, and the Home Care Association of America. We’ve also provided a link for you to learn more information about the CAREer Path Initiative.
This presentation is based on a report that we released in December of last year called Education Pathways for Caregivers: An Untapped Opportunity for Employers, which was a survey that we conducted late summer of last year with 1,500 caregivers nationwide focused on their educational and career aspirations as caregivers. The way that we started thinking about the survey was we started with just a simple question of what do caregivers want out of their careers, out of their education and beyond.
This report provides insights on caregivers’ interest in pursuing further education, the barriers they face in doing so, and the role that employers can play in workers’ educational attainment. This report shows that access to ongoing educational resources are a critical decision factor for caregivers when they decide what agency to work for, and whether they stay with their agency. We’ll also provide a full link to the report as well.
The first key finding that jumped out to us was that 70% of caregivers say they are interested in furthering their education. That’s overwhelmingly a majority of our caregivers that participated. We really want to recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all. When we say further education, that could mean a college degree, but that could also mean a certification or just additional classes or another avenue of furthering their training and education. We’ve talked to a lot of caregivers and they’re really motivated to provide the best care. We found that their education varied with their interests.
Of those caregivers or our participants who said that they were interested in furthering their education, we asked them the reasons, “Why?” The number one reason is that they wanted to apply their education to make a positive impact in their community. This really spoke to their commitment to their role. Again, they’re highly motivated to provide the best care and they want what a lot of us want, which is to be fulfilled in their career and they want to grow and make a difference.
The second most common answer was they want to improve their job opportunities. Again, we’re all having these conversations in the last two years about this great resignation or, rather, it’s a great reshuffle or great renegotiation, but people are really thinking about what they want out of their careers and how they can access better job opportunities to fulfill that. We saw that play out in our results wanting to broaden their education, wanting to earn more money, and just also wanting to get a more fulfilling job. This was really motivating seeing what their interests were and why they wanted to further their education.
They’re interested in education and we see this as not a one-size-fits-all here. We are looking at the different career opportunities, their pathways that our participants were interested in. Again, I don’t think this will be very surprising, but as a healthcare-oriented field, the number one career pathway that our participants were interested in was the nursing career, so RN, LPN, also other healthcare related. They recognized that healthcare careers are broad and varied beyond just nursing, doctors, and things like that.
Then, also a certified nursing assistant being the third most common option of their program of interest if the opportunity arises. As far as these pathways and how they would access this opportunity, another thing to note is that they’re looking for programs that offer them some flexibility. They’re looking for a mix of in-person and online or maybe remote only classes and education opportunities to take advantage of, to upskill into these different career pathways.
Our second key finding is 85% of caregivers say they’re more likely to stay with their current employer if offered resources to further their education. Again, this makes sense that if you have an interest, then it’s a strong value for you as you consider whether you stay on with your current employer. We asked them the likelihood of job retention if granted access to further education. Again, here we see, it jumps out: 68% are very likely with an additional 17% saying somewhat likely. Overwhelmingly, if they have this kind of strong value set furthering their education, we can see that this is a great retention tool. Education could be a great retention tool for keeping your employees engaged.
For example, a caregiver says, “I would like more medical training to better serve the patients or clients I have now. Also, advancing in medical knowledge can only be helpful in the role I have now or if I want to move to a job that requires more patient training.”
A third major key finding, that 94% of caregivers say access to further education is an important consideration in accepting a job offer. We all know here at the summit that recruitment of their workforce is a major pain point for agencies. Here, we’re trying to highlight that education and providing upskilling pathways could be a major recruitment tool for recruiting new workers at a place of employment.
64% of our respondents identified access to additional education when considering a job offer as very important, 30% being moderately important. Again, it’s really important. Then when we break it down, 70% said that they are interested in further education. When you extrapolate that data point of who actually said that they were interested, people who are interested in furthering their education are three times more likely to say that that is a very important consideration when considering a job offer. How can we use that as a tool and acknowledge that interest as part of our strategy to recruit and retain more staff because we all acknowledge that there’s a very high need?
Our fourth key finding here is that, and this jumped out, because if you contrast with 70% of caregivers say that they are interested in further education, contrast that with 75% of caregivers say their employer has never talked with them about ongoing education or training. This is a huge gap, and I see this is a major opportunity for employers to have the conversation because once you start having that conversation and you understand what caregivers’ interests are, again, you can use that as a tactic to better recruit and retain high-quality staff as an employer.
This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity. To watch the full discussion on video, please visit:
CareAcademy provides high-quality, state-approved online caregiver training for home care agencies that increases caregiver knowledge. To learn more visit https://careacademy.com/.