The workforce shortage has had a staggering effect on staffing within the personal care, home health and hospice industries. But providers may be responding to it in the wrong way, a new report from Home Care Pulse, a software firm that provides satisfaction surveys, training and reputation management, suggests. 

Among the findings of the 2023 HCP Benchmarking report: Of the home health and hospice providers surveyed, 48.3% of respondents cited care professional shortages as the biggest threat to the growth of their business, but only 21.2% raised employee turnover as a threat. 

“[The data] suggests that the focus is on recruiting more employees, but not enough on retaining the staff you have,” HCP Chief Marketing Officer Kristen Duell told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “Programs that improve retention, such as satisfaction surveys, robust training and applying for recognitions and certifications that show your commitment to your employees’ well-being will be the differentiators between those who struggle with staffing in the coming year and those who thrive.”

The impact of the workforce crisis on business is apparent in the findings. Three quarters of all post-acute care providers have had to deny care to patients so far in 2023 due to workforce shortages. The report  — which included data from an industrywide survey during the first months of the year — also found that 53.5% of home care providers and 60.3% of home health providers have consistently turned down care since January of this year. 

The higher percentage of home health providers rejecting care is notable, Duell said. 

“I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone in the industry to say workforce shortages are a problem, but it’s surprising that home health is struggling the most,” Duell said. 

To address this staffing issue, providers are turning their focus to lower-cost recruitment efforts. The report found that 39.7% of home care providers and 31.4% of home health and hospice providers mentioned as their most effective recruitment source. Duell noted that this supports what she called “recruiting for retention.”

“While internet sources like online job boards produced a high volume of applicants at a lower cost, those applicants were much more likely to turn over,” she said. “Meanwhile, an applicant referred to the company by a current employee had a slightly higher upfront cost, but was far less likely to turn over. It all comes back to ensuring your current employees are not just staying with you, but so passionate about their role (and your business) that they turn into recruiters.”