The U.S. population is aging, and 70% of baby boomers want to age in their homes, which often requires them to receive support from a caregiver. The problem is that the home care industry and society as a whole are struggling to keep up with demand.
Estimates forecast a national shortage of 151,000 professional caregivers by 2030 and 355,000 by 2040. There are plenty of current and prospective professional caregivers in the labor force, but for various reasons, many are unwilling to take the job. When asked why they’re frustrated with their jobs and agencies, professional caregivers frequently cite inconsistent scheduling, unorganized management, difficult commutes and a lack of training. Put simply, inefficiencies in caregiving operations and infrastructure are leading to burnout, high turnover rates and chronic recruitment challenges.
That’s why it’s time for home care providers to embrace innovation in the form of technology solutions. Technology doesn’t have to replace the human element in home care. Rather, it can strengthen personal care by helping create job stability and professional development opportunities to invigorate current and future generations of professional caregivers.
The challenges of working in home care
Caregiving is demanding work. And it becomes more challenging when workers are forced to contend with inefficient and inconsistent management practices.
The home care industry is also highly fragmented, which means many agencies struggle to provide professional caregivers with consistent, stable working conditions. In smaller agencies, operations and logistics are often subject to the expertise and preferences of a few individuals. Even when administrators try to evenly assign work, account for preferred assignments and times, and optimize travel routes, manual scheduling can take hours. The more time caregivers spend coordinating with office staff, the less time they spend working with clients.
And stability on the job is only part of the equation. Professional caregivers don’t just want a job — they want growth opportunities that can improve their pay and job mobility, and help them build careers in healthcare. If they can’t advance in the field, professional caregivers have little incentive to stay in their positions, and new entrants to the workforce won’t see the value in taking their place.
These issues are taking a toll on the home care industry, but the remedy is out there for companies with a forward-thinking mindset toward personal care.
Technology puts people first
Historically, the home care industry has been notoriously reticent to adopt technology — providers are often concerned that too much automation will make home care impersonal and drive clients away. But that’s simply not the case. Operations solutions like home care platforms can help your organization recruit and retain the talent you need to provide quality care. Here’s how:
- Create job stability for professional caregivers. An operations platform takes the administrative hurdles out of caregiving. With automation and machine learning, you can schedule shifts faster, create optimal caregiver-client pairings, and onboard caregivers in a more systematic way. A technology platform doesn’t replace the human component of caregiving — it enhances your employees’ ability to offer exceptional service. Your agency is creating a supportive environment where professional caregivers aren’t burdened by volatility from inefficient management and they’re better prepared to work with clients. That’s an environment that will attract top care professionals and keep them around.
- Offer professional development opportunities. Technology solutions support learning and development programs and performance management tools that can help professional caregivers advance their careers. Care platforms allow you to centralize training modules, set goals and track performance so caregivers have resources for building skills and transparency as they work to achieve KPIs. You can further encourage professional development by creating incentives like bonuses, mentorship opportunities or promotions for caregivers who hit key milestones.
When you treat caregivers as professionals, you stand out from your competition in the job market. Motivated, qualified caregivers have a more favorable view of a home care provider that actively listens and shows respect for their preferences and long-term ambitions.
Home care that’s prepared for the future
The home care industry isn’t facing a caregiver shortage — agencies are struggling to offer jobs that appeal to caregivers and those considering entering the profession. Outdated operational models leave many home care providers behind the curve, and professional caregivers take notice. They want both the stability and flexibility they need to grow their careers.
Operational platforms provide an innovative answer to many of the challenges home care agencies face. To embrace technology is to take a growth-driven mindset and prepare for the future of home care. Your agency, and the growing population of aging Americans, depend on it.
Sandy Jen is chief technology officer of Honor Technology, which acquired Home Instead in 2021.