US Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Austen R. Adriaens

March 28, 2018; Home Healthcare News

A new report from the Home Care Aide Council in Massachusetts finds that that high job satisfaction alone does not mean retention. Turns out, you also have to pay a fair wage and observe fair labor standards to stave off high turnover. Instead, home health providers are just recruiting like crazy, which only feeds into the high-turnover cycle. The report is intended to help those providers advocate for higher rates, which not only would help retain employees, but also help providers better meet their care mission.

The 50-year-old nonprofit Home Care Aide Council has 120 member organizations in Massachusetts, so it has had a bird’s-eye view of changes in the home care agency- and community-based workforce, which boasts notoriously low pay, erratic hours, and few if any benefits.

“Five years ago, when the economy wasn’t as great, great people could always be found,” Lisa Gurgone, executive director of the Home Care Aide Council, says. “New people were coming in the door. What we are seeing now is a good economy, lots of people getting jobs and hiring bonuses, and people not coming in anymore.”

On top of all of that, demand is ever greater for in-home aid services.

But do the problems of the field’s nonprofits really fall at the feet of an improving economy? That’s not what the Home Care Aid Council report shows:

The report also revealed that 96 percent of HCAs are female and 40 percent of their households make less than $19,999 annually. More than half of the workforce reported being on at least one public benefit and nearly half were born outside of the United States.

Instead, it might be that this sector’s infrastructure groups needs to take a policy position and advocate to build an industry that can support living wages for all of its workers.—Ruth McCambridge