How Home Care Providers Are Addressing The Growing Challenge Of Caregiver ‘Ghosting’

This article is a part of your HHCN+ Membership

Poof — a caregiver has just vanished into thin air.

The caregiver hasn’t shown up to care for their client during the shift, and they’ve left the home care agency without giving any notice.

Generally, this is what’s known as caregiver ghosting, and it continues to be a challenge for home care providers.


Recently, Victor Hunt — co-founder and CEO of caregiver engagement platform Ava — highlighted this industry-wide pain point in a post on LinkedIn. Hunt noted this was a problem, and a growing one at that. 

Specifically, Sheila Davis – the senior vice president of area operations at Always Best Care – believes that in the past nine months caregiver ghosting has gotten worse.

“It’s something that we’re all noticing, and there seems to be an uptick,” she told Home Health Care News.


Ghosting has a detrimental impact on home care companies, according to Erika Ehlers, HomeWell Care Services’ senior director of learning.

“It has that immediate impact on the safety and wellbeing of the client,” she told HHCN. “But then there’s also the longer-term negative impact that it’s going to have on your reputation, revenue and, potentially, your profitability.”

There are a number of different factors that contribute to caregiver ghosting.

Davis pointed out that one of these factors is caregivers leaving for what they believe to be a better job opportunity.

“Caregivers may find a better job opportunity after applying with us, or even after getting a job with us, and then they just don’t communicate that they’re leaving,” she said. “That is one of the main factors that we’ve seen — caregivers would at least give notice, and they just leave without even telling you anything anymore.”

Ghosting providers

At Nurse Next Door, Veronica Tissera, vice president of customer experience, was once made aware of a situation where a caregiver had to choose between putting gas in her car or feeding her children.

Tissera explained that this is something the company would not have known if they didn’t make the effort to get curious about why ghosting happens.

Nurse Next Door has since implemented a number of policies aimed at curbing caregiver ghosting. This includes holding clients to a 12-hour minimum for service hours.

“One of the reasons why caregivers ghost is that they work for several companies,” Tissera said. “If you have a company that offers a [one-hour shift] versus a company that says, ‘We have eight hours,’ caregivers will choose the one that can offer eight hours.”

This offers caregivers more stability, and enables them to earn a higher wage. Nurse Next Door also offers wages that are above industry average and a comprehensive benefits package.

Similarly, Always Best Care also put strategies in place meant to combat caregiver ghosting. One of these strategies is constant communication, especially when it comes to new hires.

“We’re regularly following up with the caregivers, after that initial contact, to keep the lines of communication open,” Davis said. “We’re keeping the lines of communication open after the orientation process, even when they are given their first scheduled shift. We are contacting them the night before just to remind them. We are also making sure that communication is clear and concise. We [lay out] what the expectations are during the hiring process, and make sure that the caregivers avoid any misunderstandings. While we don’t like caregivers calling off shifts, we would much rather have them call off than abandon the shift or ghost the shift.”

One of the biggest factors that leads to ghosting are burned out caregivers.

While HomeWell has largely avoided the impact of caregiver ghosting, Ehlers has still seen the value in tackling caregiver burnout head on.

“We’ve launched a personal development learning track in our learning lab that includes topics like mental wellness, time management, stress management to help owners be able to identify the signs of burnout, and then also be able to provide support and resources to help prevent it,” she said.

Ehlers also stressed the importance of a robust onboarding process for new caregivers.

“It can’t be overstated,” she said. “Our franchise services team noted that the possibility of ghosting on a shift increases significantly when that new caregiver hasn’t had expectations clearly defined, or been properly prepared. They’re basically left to walk into a stranger’s home without any support. It’s really important to ensure that caregivers feel they’re valued members of the team, and that they’re recognized for all the compassion and care that they’re bringing to their work every day.”

The company also believes in setting up its franchise owners to cultivate strong employee engagement.

“We provide these tools to our owners,” Ehlers said. “We have a caregiver connection newsletter, we have award and recognition templates focused around our core values, and we encourage our owners to make use of those to increase communication and engagement with our caregivers. We really weave retention into all of our learning opportunities, so that we can prepare our owners with the skills and resources they need to be able to build a really positive culture and employee engagement.”

Companies featured in this article:

, ,