The Caregiver Turnover Crisis
I want to discuss some of the issues at the root of the caregiver turnover crisis. There’s consensus among many industry experts that with present economic conditions, the turnover crisis may not be fully solved until the home care industry finds a way to make caregiving a career destination for more caregivers.
It’s important to recognize that not all the factors that might make caregiving a more desirable career destination are within your control; some important ones, like the ability to pay your caregivers significantly higher wages while preserving your margins, may not be reasonable until larger shifts happen in the industry and the economy.
However, there are still a great many levers you can pull to help make your agency a long-term place to stay rather than a pit stop. You can gain a strong competitive advantage by focusing on the areas that are within your control. Here are three keys that I believe are essential to making your home care agency a long-term destination for caregivers:
Key #1: Understand the persona of your ideal caregiver and focus your recruitment strategy on areas and channels that target this persona.
You should focus on finding individuals whose primary goal is to give care and are more motivated by meaning than money. This sounds easier said than done, and it is—but I’ve seen agencies do it, and I did it in my own agency. I found this to be a very powerful way to keep my turnover down and my quality up while I was a home care owner.
Here’s some ideas on how you might accomplish this:
You’ve probably noticed a few caregivers who stand as being truly focused on being a caregiver. They might be at a place in life where they’re financially stable and are looking for something meaningful to fill their time, part of a cultural community that places strong emphasis on caring for their elders, or they might just care a lot more about why they’re working than what that they’re earning. Different areas may have different groups or demographics that fit this persona, but they’re out there and you’ve probably seen them.
Figure out the commonalities between these caregivers in your area, and concentrate on networking and advertising in the channels, areas, and social circles that these individuals frequent. For example, you might network within volunteer organizations to look for individuals who want to use their time to do good but still need to make money. As appropriate, you might also advertise within the newsletter of church groups or other service organizations.
I’ve noticed some home care agencies focusing on recruiting service-minded individuals who fit this description by offering paid volunteer time off as one of the main features of their benefits package. That strategy may not be financially feasible for every agency, but it’s the type of thinking that will attract the individuals that you want.
Obviously, it’s any home care owners dream to find lots of caregivers who—more than anything—just want to take care of people. If reducing caregiver turnover was this that simple, everyone would be doing it. This strategy might not be easy, but it is possible, and I’ve seen the very powerful results it yields when done correctly.
A quick disclaimer: it’s illegal to make hiring decisions based on factors like age, gender, or socioeconomic background. This is not what I am advocating. Your hiring decisions should always be made on a fair basis of individual merit and qualifications. But you can focus your recruitment efforts on getting the attention of groups that are most likely to yield lots of great caregivers, and then make your hiring decisions based on their individual capabilities.