Need to hire quality home health workers? Try paying them better, suggests national advocacy organization.
Poor pay, inconsistent hours and few advancement opportunities still plague the home health workforce, according to data released by PHI, a nonprofit organization that studies the healthcare paraprofessional and direct-care workforce. Yet, understanding—and confronting—the challenges ingrained in this sector of the healthcare workforce could become an opportunity for organizations seeking to increase home health service lines and reduce turnover.
“As evidenced by the growing workforce shortage in home care, employers are struggling to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of workers to meet demand,” the report notes. “Their struggle is exacerbated by the poor quality of home care jobs.”
It’s no secret home health is disproportionately underpaid compared to other job titles in the long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) market. The median wage of home care workers is $11.03 an hour or $15,000 per year—a pay rate that has risen only 37 cents in the past decade. One in five home healthcare workers still lives below the federal poverty line.
Other demographics set this workforce sector apart from others and beg for innovative human capital management strategies:
· 90% of home care workers are women.
· 60% are people of color.
· Almost 30% are immigrants.
· Half have no formal education beyond high school.
Industry predictions are clear: The LTPAC market will need nearly 1 million new home health workers in the coming decade to serve the spike in the numbers of older adults and the continuing shift from institutional care settings to home care settings. Home health is already the fastest-growing occupation in the United States, and estimates suggest it will add more jobs than any other occupation by 2026.
Providers should plan their home health workforce strategies before the big rush hits in order to position the organization to compete for quality employees. In addition to providing a competitive wage, HR strategies that explore perks such as transportation assistance, meal plans and/or access to advancement opportunities through education will put your organization in the driver’s seat when adding—and keeping—quality home health workers.