There is a Solution to the Caregiver Shortage Problem…It’s Us!

As Home Health Care Owners it is certainly no secret that we all have the same problem - where are the caregivers and why is turnover so high. As a previous owner of home care agencies and as an owner who managed my caregiving staff directly I can tell you I totally get it. I understand that it can be frustrating working through all the issues that come with our care staff. The complaining, the bitterness and bad habits from past agency experiences, the "laziness" blah, blah, blah. We need to collectively wake up. We are causing this cycle of care provider turnover and burnout. Remember around 2003 when it was so easy...we call a care provider, staff them they would do their job and very well. Never call out show up on time give great care to your client and be available for more work when you needed them? Life was beautiful. Ah, memories.

Then, they began to change...oh your veteran staff remained the same yes but the "new" providers started surfacing the ones that "want" work but never pick up shifts, or the care provider that picks up a shift and then calls out 30 min before the shift...ugg! Or my favorite ( insert sarcasm) the care provider that doesn't even show up to work their shift who hello is taking care of another human being! I have a theory about why but I will save that for another time. The culture has certainly changed my friends but we can reverse it and we must to handle the care needs our seniors are going to need in the coming years.

I know you are burnt out by now on this turnover shortage issue but get over it and LEAD these people who are our working poor. Let me say that again. Our care providers are our working poor...they are the individuals who are responsible for caring for not just your client but an actual human being with very significant needs! If anyone needs leadership and mentorship it is these amazing people. Yes I said AMAZING because that is exactly what they are! Think about it, when you interview them what do they tell you? 9 out of 10 times they tell you they are interviewing with your company for the same reasons you are an owner...a personal experience with a family member or loved one right? Sound familiar from all those interviews you perform? Isn't that why you are in it? I bet the answer is yes. Listen, they are not you. They do not have your experiences in life. Statistically they are single moms who are trying to feed their families driving a car they hope starts before heading into work. They have struggles and problems you may never ever relate to because you are fortunately not experiencing those issues at this point in your life? They think differently, feel differently and need you. They dont need you to judge or complain about them. They need you to mentor them, to believe in them and they certainly need you to empower them. Give them training, give them praise for the little things and the big things. Most weeks they probably don't even see you. Do you think they are really going to sit around and do a job where they do not feel valued or appreciated? Stay in a job where they are under paid for the work they do? No, the answer is no. They are going to go from agency to agency in hopes to find the one that will really invest in them. Lead them. Support them. Mentor them. Please I beg you, get a handle on your margins so you can pay them more. Bonus them. Praise them. Most importantly, please be patient...it will not happen overnight. Most are jaded already and need us to clean the mud off the windshield of homecare. Let's make our industry attractive to up and coming care providers. People want to work for a common goal or purpose so be theirs. Inspire!!! Share your mission your vision and your core values and the loyality will be there. I promise. They will refer their friends and family. Good people stick with good people period. We need a paradigm shift in our industry but it must start with us.

Here are 10 suggestions on how to get started

  1. Have A Cause: The minute your company and the people inside it stand for something bigger than just having a job, you have a cause. Causes create confidence, passion and profits!
  2. Give Respect: Companies that thrive really value their employees. If management or owners believe employees are not good enough...they wont be.
  3. Empower: Employees that take on projects and responsibilities on their own behalf, knowing that its the right thing for the organization, are empowered. Truly empowered employees don't wait for the manager to tell them its ok.
  4. Clear Duties: When employees know what they are required to do, they will rise to the occasion. A path to success that is written and followed up on is priceless. It's their time to shine!
  5. Celebrate: YOU need to celebrate goals achieved big or small...end of story. Celebrations are just plain good vibes for everyone involved. Ride it out with your team. Spontaneous office lunches mean a lot. It matters more than you know!
  6. Acknowledge: Different than celebrations in that acknowledgment which can be a handshake and a smile while maintaining eye contact. Or acknowledgement could mean to recognize employees that reach 'actual' goals. Do not let recognition become a given, but rather an achievement.
  7. Show them the money: Offering employee perks, benefits, compensation and job security reduces stress and improves employee satisfaction.
  8. Seek truth: A sign of a business with low morale is the lack of truth. Employees will hide the truth if they don't trust you and cannot communicate concerns when they arise if they feel they won't be heard. Which is unacceptable in our industry of caring for our elders so open the communication and be inviting for them to come to you.
  9. Have fun: For heaven sake have fun! There are proven physical, mental and social benefits that come with humor and laughter. Providing a fun culture and positive working environment changes physiology...and that is a very good thing!!!
  10. Be Consistent: The absolute worst thing a company can do is build people up just to tear them down in the end. If you honestly want to improve your business, use these tactics consistently over time!

Collectively we can make a difference and when we do we all win!

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