20 Apr Six Keys to Solving Home Health Agency Staffing Issues
How to solve Home Health Staffing Issues
Exploring 6 Key Practices to reduce staffing shortages in 2023 and beyond
Homecare agency staffing shortages remain the number one challenge for homecare agencies going into the new year. According to the National Association for Healthcare Quality, half a million nurses are expected to leave the profession in 2023, leading to a deficit of one million nurses nationwide. The projected growth in home health and personal care assistant employment needs is 33 percent between 2020-2030, which is much faster than the average of all occupations.
Home health agencies are shutting down. Agencies that expect to thrive must prioritize obtaining and keeping staff despite financial limits. Fortunately, there are strategies forward-thinking agency leaders can implement to reduce workforce shortages and improve home healthcare staff retention. Let’s examine some of the best methods you can implement to solve your staffing challenges in 2023 and beyond.
1. Create a comprehensive plan that addresses current and future staffing needs
Integrate workforce planning with strategic planning. Creating critical strategic plan pillars and identifying specific goals is essential for an effective workforce strategy. The plan drives strategic planning for the home health agency. This includes recruitment, retention, long-term staffing replacement plans, and clinical expertise paths.
You and your leadership team must stay abreast of critical forces transforming the healthcare landscape. These include societal factors that influence health, emerging technologies, and consumerism. Knowledge of these factors deepens your understanding of the impact on the workforce and the nature of clinicians’ jobs.
- Create a culture that supports your team during change.
- Develop strategies to help your team adapt to changing skill sets, care delivery models, and capabilities.
- Strengthen the talent pipeline by creating new pathways and partnerships for professional development.
- Provide leadership education.
- Offer competitive pay and benefits.
- Develop succession-planning strategies.
2. Listen and customize strategies in cooperation with employees
Home health agency leaders must adjust benefits and strategies to accommodate the workers’ needs. While all workers want to be recognized and compensated for their expertise and efforts, others may place a more excellent value on flexibility and breaks to recharge, solid management support, open lines to communication, and input into decision-making. Listening to workers and tailoring solutions to meet their needs can increase retention.
- Identify and incorporate ways to promote team satisfaction. Provide access to mental health and well-being resources to help employees cope with work stress. Access to support groups, individual counseling, and workplace de-stress rooms are excellent places to start.
- Encourage engagement and retention through regular solicitation, action, and input from staff members through structurally embedded opportunities such as shared councils.
- Identity weaknesses as seen through the eyes of the entire organization. Address gaps so you can quickly and efficiently ramp up, deploy, and support staff during emergencies, such as a new pandemic, supply shortage, or other unforeseen crises.
3. Attract workers of all ages and backgrounds
Allow staff to adjust their work schedules to accommodate innovation. Encourage a culturally diverse workforce.
Gen Z employees often place cultural fit above traditional benefits and can benefit from your sharing your values, mission, diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
Most services can be delivered during school hours, opening a vast source of workers. Parents may be attracted to opportunities to work while children are in school to save on daycare costs. Find out if a company-sponsored daycare would be desired and feasible.
What are the challenges your mid-range workers are facing? Are they sandwiched between parenting and caring for their parents? Are they struggling to further their careers? Ask them what would benefit them most.
Older workers may be attracted to working short shifts. Semi-retired nurses and aides may be amenable to working short weekend shifts, which can aid coverage. Consider pairing seasoned workers with new hires with limited knowledge about working in the “real” home care environment.
4. Work smarter and facilitate problem-solving throughout the organization
Homecare staff loses work hours each day due to inefficiencies. In addition to costing your agency money, these roadblocks to productivity that can stem from issues like not having the right homecare software or other operational tools, poor organizational protocols, and barriers to open communication between staff and management on policies, all contribute to massive employee dissatisfaction. Leadership is likely unaware of the time wasters that direct care staff must cope with daily. What may seem minor to an administrator may be huge to the worker performing the same inefficient task several times daily.
- Encourage your team to think like efficiency experts, focusing on reducing administrative burdens and moving towards team-based care to improve workflow. You can implement contests or rewards to minimize inefficiency.
- Identify and use technologies to optimize your clinical workflow and ensure patients have access to quality health care even when there are fewer clinicians.
5. Treat your home health and certified nurse aides as crucial professionals
Nurse Aides and Home Heath Aides continue to make low salaries that are not even a living wage despite their vital services. In 2019, 36 % of home care workers were high school graduates.87% of home care providers were female. Agencies must find ways to pay these valued caregivers what they are worth to ensure longevity in the workforce and become an employer of choice. While recognition such as free donuts on Fridays is a nice gesture, it does little to pay for car repairs, daycare, and groceries daily.
- Provide high-quality, competency-based training for both the initial and ongoing phases.
- Provide a living wage and meaningful benefits proportional to the worker’s competency level.
- Provide career advancement options.
- Create ways to ensure that nurse aides and home health aides are appreciated by their colleagues, patients, and the public.
- Offer wraparound services. Direct-care professionals often require additional support to keep their jobs and succeed. Flexible scheduling, transportation assistance, and financial education help employees care for their families while still being able to work.
- Create a career ladder to help you retain and grow entry-level employees who have the potential to grow.
6. Promote education to attract and retain staff
Offering tuition reimbursement is a well-recognized desirable benefit many healthcare organizations offer. If you want your organization to stand out from competitors, you must provide more than reimbursement.
- Create career ladders to help you retain and grow entry-level employees who have the potential to grow.
- Encourage internal career paths. Give priority to internal promotions.
- Provide support for continuing education. Offer licensure training and certification. Incentives such as tuition reimbursement, salary increases, and periodic promotions encourage staff to pursue advanced degrees.
- Offer professional development resources. Explore various certifications that will benefit your staff and clients. For example, help staff become certified in dementia care or other areas of expertise.
- Explore partnership opportunities for staff education.
Create lasting solutions to staffing challenges
Creating lasting, affordable solutions to staffing issues will be challenging, but there is no other option if you want your agency to thrive and survive. Your agency met many challenges, especially during the COVID epidemic, and will continue to do so. Use the tools discussed to create a resilient, comprehensive plan that addresses staffing challenges and employee satisfaction. Listening to your employees is crucial. They likely have many of the answers you seek within them.
AHA, Health care talent scan: https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2021/10/AHA-Health-Care-Talent-Scan-2022.pdf
National Association for healthcare workforce shortages stats: https://nahq.org/news-media/news/healthcare-workforce-shortages/
Author’s Note: Views, information, and guidance in this resource are intended for information only. We are not rendering legal, financial, accounting, medical, or other professional advice. Alora disclaims any liability to any third party and cannot make any guarantee related to the content.
Additional Staff Retention Reading:
- Five facts about caregiver burnout that will startle you
- Creating magnetic job postings to attract nurses to your agency
- Preventing caregiver turnover in your home health agency
- Ten best ways to show caregiver appreciation
- Dealing with the shortage of caregivers in home health care
- Caregiver training – six key practices to get nurses off to a good start
- Work/life balance tips for clinicians
Alora’s home health software solution is ideal for agencies operating in both skilled and non-skilled care. For more than 16 years Alora has simplified workflow for countless agencies, helping them serve nearly 850,000 patients, while fostering growth and efficiency. Building a strong agency culture where caregivers enjoy their work starts with making their job as simple as possible. Alora makes everything involved with day-to day workflow easier, so agencies can thrive with simplicity and focus on patient care.