The Senior Caregiver Turnover Problem

Ask anyone who has anything to do with senior care about the biggest challenge facing the industry right now and you’ll get this answer: caregiver turnover.

Why is it such a problem? Have you ever dealt with the elderly? Let’s say you don’t like change — your favorite grocer goes out of business, your dry cleaner moves — annoying as hell but not exactly life-changing. Now imagine it’s the person who helps you with your activities of daily living — the person who bathes you, who feeds you, who wipes your bum — that kind of personnel change can be terribly, well, personal. Now imagine you are elderly, frail, and extremely vulnerable. That kind of change can shake you to your core.

As a senior care employer, caregiver turnover affects the bottom line. It costs to hire new caregivers, to recruit and interview them, run background checks, and train them to care for their senior clients. It costs home care agencies approximately $3,500 to replace one hourly employee.

Turnover rates for private duty in-home caregivers have been steadily increasing, from 39.4% in 2009 to 61.5% in 2014, according to Home Care Pulse’s 2015 Private Duty Benchmarking Study. Annual turnover rate can vary between 60% to 100% from state to state, according to research from the Institute for the Future of Aging Services.

Increasing caregiver shortages for long-term care demands we find out why caregiver turnover is so high and seek remedies to keep quality in-home caregivers happy and on the job. 

There are many theories as to why caregiver turnover is so high. Of course, most studies show that low wages, lack of benefits, and no overtime pay contributes greatly to senior caregiver discontent. Since 2000, there has been a 23% increase in home health care employment, while salaries have remained the same at about $21,000 a year, according to research conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.

The National Private Duty Association has said that requiring employers to pay time-and-a-half for overtime could mean that some seniors will have to have more than one caretaker because they require more than 40 hours of care a week, or costs for the family would be so high, seniors would not receive all the help they need.

What would help with in-home caregiver retention, besides higher pay?

We at Caregiverlist hear from a lot of caregivers. Of course, caregivers cite better pay as a big contributor to better care, other factors are also important. Here are some suggestions in-home caregivers have for senior care agencies that would entice caregiver retention:

Offer Ongoing Training
No one wants to feel stuck in a rut. By receiving ongoing training, caregivers feel supported and know that they are developing their professional skills. The majority of caregiver turnover occurs in the first 60 days of employment, most likely due to lack of confidence in being able to provide competent care. Training increases that confidence.

Give Recognition
No one goes into senior care to become rich. Caregivers are interested in helping people and most go into the job because they had experience with family caregiving. A simple “Thank You” and acknowledgement of a job well done can increase caregiver satisfaction.

Provide Mentorship and Community
In-home caregiving can be a solitary endeavor. Of course relationships are built between caregiver and client, but it’s nice to know that one is not alone in the challenges and successes experienced as a caregiver. Providing opportunities to share caregiving stories, brainstorm solutions to common problems, and find professional camaraderie may help agencies retain quality senior caregivers.

If you are a senior caregiver, what would help keep you on the job? Share your ideas in the comments section.

Honoring CNAs During National Nursing Assistants Week

We know the value of the professional nursing assistant. These are the men and women who work tirelessly to assist the elderly and frail under the supervision of RNs and LPNs. For many seniors (especially for those seniors who are aging in place, at home), the best CNAs provide care that greatly increases the quality of life for the most vulnerable of our population.

The 38th annual National Nursing Assistants’ Week runs from June 11-18, 2015 and  kicks off on June 11 with National Career Nursing Assistants’ Day, a day to recognize the dedicated nursing assistants who have committed 5 to as many as 58 years of their lives to the care and well-being of others. This year’s theme is “Nursing Assistants @ the Heart of Care,” Celebrating 38 years as a professional organization for nursing assistants and other direct care workers in long term care.

Now more than ever, direct care workers need to advocate for themselves and their vital importance in the lives of the fastest growing demographic in America — seniors.

William Painter, past president of the board of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, urges all professional caregivers to be proactive in making others aware of the indispensable contributions made by those in professional long term care. Here are his suggestions:

  • Use the Language of  Respect and Cooperation on a daily basis when working with clients, coworkers, families and the community
  • Make sure that you and your co-workers are registered to vote.
  • Educate yourself and co-workers about the political issues that affect your jobs and the care you give. (Check news stories. Pay special attention to articles about wages and benefits, overtime pay, parity, staffing ratios, safety on the job, and  job-training.
  • Get to know your lawmakers! Call your legislators. Write letters. Find out who the influential people are in long term care and contact them. Get a small group together and make an appointment to visit.
  • Practice your message and avoid complaining – be assertive and professional. It is your government and your money being spent! Don’t be chicken! They hear from the other “experts”, but if they are ever going to understand how it really is, they have got to hear directly from you!
  • Look for and create opportunities to speak to churches, civic organizations, seniors groups, etc.

The employment opportunities for certified nursing aides and assistants are plentiful. CNAs work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities, adult day care centers, and in the home through senior home care agencies. Over 2.5 million women and men are currently employed as CNAs.

If you are contemplating a career as a certified nursing assistant, be aware that you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, you’ll have to pass a background check and medical exam, and various vaccinations are required, depending on the requirements in your state.
 
Certified Nursing Assistant training requirements vary from state to state, and there are many CNA schools that will help prepare you to pass your state’s Department of Health certification and licensing exam. Program costs vary widely but some financial aid may be available.

Is a CNA career right for you? Visit Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Training Center to learn more about CNA job duties, take a look at some free senior care training briefs, and take some CNA sample and practice tests.

And if there’s a special Career Nursing Assistant in your life, take this opportunity to thank them for all they do and, moreover, help advocate for respect for their role in quality long term care.

Ready for Lunch in Paradise

At Caregiverliswe know the realities of caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. There is not much nicer than sitting outside on a beautiful day in an amazing place. This week's photo invites us to imagine that. It was taken on the island of Santorini in Greece, a place with stunning scenery. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. Have a great week. 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."  -Mark Twain

 

 

Chicago in Bloom

It is June, the time when spring gives way to summer, and the blossoms turn to leaves. This week's photo was taken in Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. At Caregiverliswe know the realities of caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. Have a great week. 

"Just living is not enough...one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."

  -Hans Christian Andersen 

Come Sail Away: Stress Relief Photo

Memorial Day weekend has come. It is a time of remembrance and for many the start of summer, and all the joys that the season brings. This week's stress relief photo was taken in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Please enjoy and feel free to share it with loved ones. Caregivers provide companionship to seniors, as well as caregiving and caregivers must remember to "care for the caregiver." Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend, and have a great week.

"Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling. " -Margaret Lee Runbeck

May Flowers: Bright and Beautiful

Flowers are a delight for the eyes and a sure way to brighten someone's day. This week's photo was taken in London, England. Caregiverlisinvites you to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. At Caregiverlist we know the realities of caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Please refer your friends to apply for part-time and full-time job positions on Caregiverlist.com and visit our career center for additional career tools.  We hope you have a great week.  

"If I had a single flower for every time I think of you,

I could walk forever in my garden."  -Claudia Adrienne Grandi

Lemons in Provence: Stress Relief Photo

A market with a bounty of fresh produce is a feast for the senses. This week's photo of sweet lemons in bright sunshine was taken in Nice, France. Matisse spent a lot of time in Nice, and his painting was inspired by the beautiful light. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. At Caregiverliswe know the realities of caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. Have a great week. 
 

Blue Sky and Blossoms

This is one of my favorite times of year. Spring blossoms burst forth and make everything look new and bright. This week's photo was taken in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London, England. Caregiverlisinvites you to take a moment to enjoy the photo and inspirational quote and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for caring for our seniors. Senior care training briefs help senior caregivers to understand various senior illnesses and keep up with the latest care techniques to relieve caregiving stress. We hope you can take some time to yourselves and have a great week.  

Venetian Holiday: Stress Relief Photo

One of life's great pleasures are laughter and good times with good friends. This week's photo was taken in Venice, Italy during such a time. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. At Caregiverliswe know the realities of caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. We hope you have a great week. 

Bracing for the Elder Boom in America

The image of a typical nursing home, right or wrong, inspires fear in the hearts of many seniors. They picture dark, dank living spaces, rife with an uncaring, or worse, malicious staff, and, perhaps most of all, they fear becoming isolated and forgotten. It’s no wonder, then, that the idea of aging in place, at home, is a popular option for elders in America. And as the baby boom gives way to the elder boom, we realize that whatever viable options are put in place for seniors today will become our aging options in the not-too-distant future.

In her book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, 2014 MacArthur Fellow Ai-jen Poo discusses the need to provide an environment whereby the increasingly aging population can stay in their own homes if they choose. But finding a competent careforce will be the primary challenge. Tackling that imminent problem is Ms. Poo’s primary focus.

Living longer is a good thing, as long as there are systems in place to care for the aged. By 2035 there will be 11.5 million Americans over the age of 85, more than double today's five million. Right now, those who need long-term care, nearly 79%, live at home or in community settings, not in institutions, and 90% would prefer to age at home. Currently, the lion’s share of home care is provided free of charge by informal or family caregivers.

This dynamic is unsustainable according to demographics and to a changing society, as Ms. Poo points out in the book. Whereas the women in the family were traditionally expected to provide care for aging parents, dual-income American family households means there is no one at home full-time to absorb those duties. Households with fewer children and more elderly begins to look a little like something from Roald Dahl’s imagination.

The answer, clearly, is a vital, supported profession senior care workforce. Ms. Poo fights for the rights of domestic workers across the nation. Fair wages along with comprehensive senior care training would go a long way to help stem the high caregiver turnover rate and provide consistency for seniors, their families, and for the workers themselves. But paying for in-home care is already a challenge for most seniors and their families. Ms. Poo proposes that this nation needs to face and tackle these challenges now, so that all seniors and their families have access to the care they deserve.

Ms. Poo recently worked with the Department of Labor to include senior caregivers in federal minimum wage and overtime protections (which has since been delayed.). She is a vital part of Caring Across Generations who believe that this country has “an unprecedented opportunity to bring care back home—where we feel most safe and secure, and surrounded by love – and to create much needed jobs in the process.”

The Age of Dignity provides a positive roadmap to becoming a more caring nation while addressing our fraying safety net and the limited opportunities for women and immigrants in the workforce.

 

 

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