The home care workforce crisis is one of those confounding topics that defies easy generalizations or assumptions. Here’s what we know so far:

Pay is certainly a problem. But it’s not the only one.

With Walmart and other retail outlets offering much higher wages than what home care pays, it is impossible for agencies to compete. And yet paychecks are not the only reason people leave jobs. Culture is still supreme, as Dave Totaro, chief government affairs office for the home care chain Bayada said in a podcast this week. Recognition and reward are the keystone for retaining employees, he said.

To gain workers, the profession needs more respect.

Why would anyone want to work for a job that is seen as one no one else wants? That’s somewhat the profile of a home care worker. How to raise the value of the position? Provide better training and growth opportunities so there is a career path attached to the profession.

Workers need support.

Women make up the bulk of the home care field. Many already have dependents at home. With COVID-19 knocking many out of the workforce, we have to make it worth their while to return. What would this look like? See point 1. In addition, tax breaks, time off and flexible hours may also help win these coveted workers.

With all its complexities and nuances, the staffing crisis represents a major threat to the home care industry. Which is why McKnight’s Home Care is taking on this topic as a series. You may have seen three chapters this week — on an overview of the shortage, the gray economy and the new Home Care Workforce Action Alliance.

There is more to come. Lots more. Please stay tuned for one story a month on a related issue (Spoiler alert: we’ll take on the nontraditional workforce; diversity, equity and inclusion; and immigration, to name a few.)

And as we make our way through the series, we want to hear from you. What are you struggling with regarding the workforce shortage? What interesting idea or program might be working for you? Do you find the series helpful? Please email me (see email below) or Staff Writer Diane Eastabrook at [email protected] to let us know more. 

Good luck and happy recruiting!

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected].