Senior woman with caregiver in the park

More than one-third of home care agencies surveyed in the latest benchmarking report by Home Care Pulse said the caregiver shortage had an extremely negative impact on their businesses last year compared to 10% who said it was an extreme problem in 2020.

“The shortage is real. What you’re feeling is real,” Home Care Pulse President Todd Austin told National Association of Home Care & Hospice members Thursday during a webinar. “You’re not alone. Your competitor isn’t doing something drastically different that is driving this number down.” 

Home Care Pulse, a benchmarking and training platform, polled 64 home care agencies in 185 locations for its annual benchmarking report. Agencies cited turnover as their second biggest challenge and the report offered insight into a possible reason.

Home care agencies said the employment website Indeed accounted for 38% of their hires, while employee referrals accounted for only about 13%.  However, turnover among Indeed hires was more than double that of workers hired through an employee connection.

Vicki Demirozu, national director of personal care and support for Interim HealthCare, told NAHC members it is imperative for home care firms to refocus attention on employee and community sources.

“We are local businesses that are immersed in our local networks,” Demirozu said. “COVID presented some challenges, but as things are moving forward it is important to reignite those employee referral programs and really get out onto the streets and connect with folks in your community.”  

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already tight market for direct caregivers. Approximately 85% of agencies polled by Home Care Pulse said they had to turn down clients last year because they didn’t have enough staff. On Wednesday, leaders from NAHC’s Private Duty Home Care Advisory Council announced it was forming the Home Care Workforce Action Alliance to help alleviate the caregiver crisis. 

Training could be key to attracting and retaining more workers to the industry. The survey found lack of training was the top complaint among home care workers and it could be impacting the bottom line for many agencies.

The survey found the industry average for ongoing training among home care workers is 8 hours. However, agencies that offered 12 hours of ongoing training made 20% more in annual revenues in 2021.