A widespread medical staff shortage in home health agencies leaves patients without care, home health aides overworked and exhausted, and home health agencies unable to meet all the needs of their communities. And with the demand for in-home care rising, home health agencies are in great need of solutions to improve employee retention.
In 2022, the turnover rate for home care aides was at 35.42%. While that rate is still much higher than the ideal, it has decreased from 38.05% in 2021. This decrease in turnover rate correlates with an increase in wages for home health workers, suggesting that the increase in compensation encouraged more workers to stay in the field.
However, compensation isn’t the only factor affecting the medical staff shortage in home health agencies, and offering higher wages isn’t the only way to improve staff retention. There are other measures home health agencies can take to solve the problems that are causing their workers to leave.
Read on to learn more about the medical staff shortage and how home health agencies can improve employee retention.
Home Health Medical Staff Shortage Causes
The medical staff shortage isn’t limited to home health agencies. Medical workforces across the board are understaffed, overworked, and on the verge of burnout. In many cases, the shortage of workers becomes a self-sustaining cycle: When overworked healthcare workers quit, they leave their former workplaces even more short-staffed.
Because home health agencies are particularly limited in the number of patients they can serve at a time, the waiting list of patients who need home care but can’t get it continues to grow. Despite the growing demand, however, home health agencies typically don’t receive the federal financial aid that other healthcare facilities do.
This lack of funds further exacerbates the preexisting medical staff shortage, as home health workers either leave the field in search of better compensation and benefits or quit out of exhaustion due to lack of quality training and equipment or an overloaded schedule — or all of the above.
Fortunately, as the decreasing home health worker turnover rate suggests, these problems can be solved. People who choose to work in home health care do so because they care — and those who leave do so out of necessity. When the factors causing them to leave the field are addressed, most will be glad to stay and continue providing care.
Improving Staff Retention in Home Health Agencies
While some contributing factors of the medical staff shortage in home health agencies are outside of any individual’s control — such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of federal financial assistance — there are still measures home health agencies can take to improve employee retention beyond increased wages and benefits.
The more efficient your home health workers are able to be, the less burdensome their workloads will feel and the better quality care they’ll be able to provide. Some ways to increase efficiency include:
- Leveraging technology: Take advantage of the technology that is available to securely store employee and patient information in a central location, simplify communications, and improve patient care.
- Streamlining processes: Evaluate your agency’s existing processes and identify those that take up the greatest amount of your employees’ time and attention. Can any of those processes be simplified or even eliminated?
- Encouraging learning: Provide opportunities for your employees to level up their existing skills and learn new ones. The more developed their skillsets are, the more efficient they’ll be in administering quality care.
With only so many workers to go around, helping existing employees become as efficient as possible keeps them from being stretched too thin and burning out.
Make Them Feel Valued & Supported
Since burnout — both physical and emotional — is another major contributor to the medical staff shortage in home health agencies, supporting workers’ emotional and physical needs is also an important part of employee retention.
Offer your staff support in the form of resources, verbal appreciation, and asking for, listening to, and responding positively to feedback. Even if you’re unable to increase compensation or hire new staff immediately, ensuring your workers feel heard, supported, and valued goes a long way toward encouraging them to stay.
Provide for Flexibility
Home care workers have a lot on their plates, and not having flexible options can make tasks like fulfilling training requirements difficult or even impossible. For example, if only in-person training is available, but your employees’ schedules don’t allow them to attend the classes, how are they supposed to get that training?
Whenever possible, allowing workers greater control over their schedules — whether it be for training, meetings, or other responsibilities — helps alleviate their overall workloads. And providing options for online or, even better, a flexible blend of online and in-person training allows them to fit those requirements alongside their caregiving duties.
More Than One Way to Improve Staff Retention
Because the medical staff shortage in home health agencies has more than one cause, it’s going to take more than a one-size-fits-all solution to improve home health employee retention.
But the more home health workers are made to feel valued, effective, and in control of their schedules, the less likely they’ll be to look elsewhere for those solutions.
Contact us today to learn how ProTrainings can help you get your staff CPR certified without overloading their plates even more.