The home care industry is in constant evolution as more and more people are recognizing the advantages of this intimate kind of care. In addition to the rise in recognition, there’s also a rapid rise in demand. The industry has already doubled in size in the last 10 years and is anticipated to continue down this path of exponential growth. Because of this, there’s naturally been a need to increase hiring across the country. Unfortunately, many potential employee candidates in the healthcare field either don’t know how rewarding this career path can be or are jaded by some of the stereotypes that surround the field.

While hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have traditionally been the go-to choices for candidates seeking employment in healthcare, but leaders in the home care space expect that this may soon change. However, before we get there, there are some obstacles that need to be addressed to make home care a more appealing and competitive career choice.

The challenge of pay and benefits

Understandably, money is a key motivator, and as such, one of the most significant hurdles in making home care an appealing choice for candidates is the issue of pay and benefits. Unlike hospitals or nursing homes, home care is often found to be less lucrative. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the mean hourly wage across the nation is sitting at a mere $14.87.

Candidates are concerned about their financial stability and whether they can support themselves and their families on home care wages. On top of this, the absence of comprehensive health insurance and Medicare coverage for home care services makes the situation even more challenging.

To make home care competitive in terms of compensation, there needs to be a concerted effort by employers and policymakers. We can start with increased wages. Employers should consider offering higher, more competitive wages to attract and retain top caretakers. This not only benefits candidates but also improves the quality of care provided to patients, which is in everyone’s best interest.

In addition to a focus on raising wages, providing impressive benefits packages that include health insurance, retirement plans, and PTO can further enhance the appeal of home care positions. This will also help increase the legitimacy of the career, especially for those that consider it merely a part-time gig.

Addressing the lack of regulation

Another obstacle that home care faces is the lack of regulation compared to other healthcare facilities. This lack of oversight can lead to a whole mess of issues, including mistreatment of employees and families, which can tarnish the reputation of the entire industry.

To make home care more attractive to potential candidates, regulatory improvements need to be made. Implementing licensing standards at the state level can help ensure that home care agencies meet specific requirements regarding staffing, training, and care quality. Though most states currently do require licensing, not all of them do.

Creating quality assurance programs that regularly assess the performance of home care agencies and provide transparency to potential candidates could be immensely helpful as well.

In addition to this, the formation of professional associations for home care workers could help increase legitimacy. These organizations can advocate for the rights and well-being of home care professionals and promote industry standards. Finally, requiring mandatory training and certification for home care workers will help ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide high-quality care. This way, they can feel confident in their skillset and families can feel secure in their care.

“It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.”

Mother Teresa

Highlighting the advantages of home care

To make home care more appealing to candidates, we can highlight and share the unique advantages of this field. The goal is to not only shed light on how beneficial working within this industry can be but to help debunk some of the stereotypes and myths that have prevailed.

  • Patient-Centered Care: We can share with candidates that home care allows employees to provide one-on-one care to patients in the comfort of their own homes, which can help build strong bonds with clients and allows for longer-term relationships.
  • Flexible Schedules: This industry often offers more flexible scheduling options compared to traditional healthcare facilities, allowing candidates to balance work and personal life more effectively. This could be especially appealing to parents of younger children and those with other large responsibilities.
  • Professional Growth: Candidates in home care can gain experience in various healthcare disciplines, from pediatrics to geriatrics, leading to professional growth and  an expanded pool of opportunities in the future. By providing employees with self-development opportunities, we are showing them that we are invested in their success.
  • Building Trusting Relationships: Home care professionals often develop long-lasting relationships with patients and their families, creating a sense of fulfillment that goes beyond a paycheck.

Home Care as a Long-Term Career Choice

To make home care a competitive and appealing long-term career choice, leaders need to invest in the professional development and general well-being of candidates. We can effectively do this in a few different ways. First and foremost, home care companies can create clear pathways for career advancement within the home care field, with opportunities for leadership roles and specialization. Rather than viewing the career as a dead-end, candidates are able to visualize and work towards their next path. Leaders can also establish mentorship programs that pair experienced home care professionals with newcomers, facilitating knowledge transfer and skill development. Doing so illustrates to employees that there is room for growth and a group of people invested in their ability to thrive.

Those of us already existing in the home care space know that it is an underappreciated gem in the healthcare industry, offering candidates a unique opportunity to provide personalized, compassionate care to patients in the comfort of their homes. While there are certainly some challenges to making home care an appealing choice, the benefits of this field are undeniable. Addressing these challenges and promoting the advantages of home care can help to make this a competitive and viable career option for candidates. As a result, we can expect to see a rise in the quality of patient care and the healthcare industry as a whole.

Lance A. Slatton is a senior case manager at Enriched Life Home Care Services in Livonia, MI. He is also host of the podcast All Home Care Matters, a podcast and YouTube channel. The channel earned the YouTube Creator Award for surpassing 100,000 subscribers. By subscribing to the show, you will gain access to a wealth of information and tips that can help you provide the best possible care for your loved one. Find it on Apple podcasts or YouTube at @AllHomeCareMatters.