If anyone has the answer to the home care workforce shortage, they should be in line to win $64,000 (much more due to inflation) because that, my friends, continues to be the big question.

Just this week, two big home care companies, Enhabit and Aveanna, talked about labor issues undermining their bottom lines and operations.

And, as if on cue, LeadingAge, the association representing thousands of nonprofit post-acute care providers, reinforced the depth of the industry’s workforce woes with complementary poll findings. Among the 891 members surveyed from February to March, 64% said their workforce situation has not improved since June of 2022. (Lest you think this was a survey of institutional providers, 192 respondents were in home health and 160 were in hospice.)

Among the other interesting data gathered from LeadingAge respondents:

  • The top three most difficult positions to recruit are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, the same as in June 2022.
  • Staff are still leaving positions for better pay, better work schedules and because of burnout/professional fatigue, as they did in June 2022.
  • To attract direct care professionals, 69% offered sign-on bonuses, 92% offered increased hourly wages, and more than half offered creative scheduling and career advancement opportunities.

Tough times require tough approaches. To succeed, home care providers must be able to pay their staff appropriately in wages, benefits and scheduling flexibility. But this comes with a cost, as Aveanna and Enhabit stated.

So it does not look like a winnable situation at the moment.  

Still, if you’re going to invest in one area, it seems to me company culture is as good a place as any. If providers can continue to work on this aspect of the problem — by empowering and investing in employees — they may be able to make a positive impression on the industry that far outlives the current unpleasant situation.  

Do you agree or not? Email me at [email protected] with your solution to the workforce shortage. Is it higher wages? Expanded immigration? Raising the respect of the profession? The one who comes up with the best answer gets a conversation with me (and a mention in this blog).

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