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.
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.
Water and mountains combined for a relaxing view, even with a few clouds. This week's photo was taken from a boat on Lake Como, Italy, a wonderful place. Caregiverlist invites 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.
"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." -Italian Proverb
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. 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
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 Caregiverlist we 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
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
The sea is powerful, awe-inspiring, and beautiful. This week's photo was taken near the Temple of Poseidon, along the coast near Athens, Greece. We invite you to take a moment to relax and enjoy the photo and inspirational quote and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and the care you provide for our seniors. More caregivers are always needed as seniors in America are living longer. You can learn more about becoming a senior caregiver and apply for a job near you. Have a great week, and an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.
"Seek not good from without, seek it from within." -Epictetus
Many senior caregivers in California are waiting for their promised fair wage and overtime pay.
Back in January, United States District Judge Michael J. Leon ruled that in-home care workers are essentially companions and thus exempt from the Department of Labor’s mandated minimum wage and overtime pay for hourly workers. This is great news for third party employers like the Home Care Association of America, who state that if wages go up, so must the cost of care billed to seniors and their families.
California has one of the most stringent overtime pay laws in the nation. According to the Department of Industrial Relations, a California employer must pay overtime at 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay for any hours over an 8 hour workday or over a 40 hour workweek. Double-time is paid for hours over a 12-hour work day or when an employee works the 7th day in a week. The minimum wage in the state of California, as of July 1, 2014, is $9 per hour (an increase from $8), and an increase to $10 per hour is scheduled for July 1, 2016.
As reported on LawyersandSettlements.com., more than 400,000 California caregivers are waiting for the ruling to be overturned. Until then, they are making 2014 wages with no overtime compensation.
It is an unfortunate debate, as in-home senior care workers make it possible for the elderly to stay at home and age in place. Even with minimum wage and overtime compensation, the in-home senior care industry saves families (and the state) money considering Caregiverlist’s® recent California Nursing Home Rating and Cost Index puts the average cost of a private room in one of the 1,320 nursing homes in that state at $257.57 per day, with some of the higher-end institutions charging over $400 per day. Of course, in-home senior care provides the one-on-one care that many elderly respond to best.
We at Caregiverlist, along with the more than 400,000 caregivers, entreat California’s Governor Brown to fulfill his original commitment to treating in-home caregivers to the same benefits as all other hourly workers in California. The funds are already in the budget and cannot be used for other purposes. All of California’s in-home care workers anticipate the ruling to be overturned on appeal.
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. Caregiverlist invites 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
One of the reasons a senior may finally choose to move into assisted living is for the meals. The elderly who live independently may decide that by the time groceries are bought, pots and pans are put on the stove, food is plated and plates are cleaned, it’s just too much trouble to cook for one. Many times seniors will microwave some high-fat, high-sodium, prepared and processed food. Not good for nutrition and certainly not good for the soul.
Chefs for Seniors out of Madison, Wisc. has been getting a lot of press lately, and with good reason. Their mission? They want seniors to stay independent a little longer by offering a service dedicated to improving seniors’ lives through food (emphasis theirs.) They’ve recently been featured on NPR and in Senior Housing News. The family-run company staffs vetted, licensed, professional chefs to come to shop and cook for seniors, right in their own homes.
Whole, healthy, homemade food is of course preferable to industrial, processed, mass-produced food stuffs. But taking a meal is so much more than the simple act of eating. Taking every meal alone, no matter how nutritious, delicious, and convenient it may be, can be a lonely proposition for those who are used to communal meals.
Perhaps with Chefs for Seniors, the community is had in the making. Owners Barrett and Lisa Allman, as well as their son Nathan, seem to understand that the relationship between a seniors and their caregiver (in this case, the person preparing their meals) is important and consistency is an issue. Outside of special circumstances, the company tries to maintain that unique client/chef relationship.
“Routine is important for seniors, so we try to keep the same chef coming to their home every week,” Allman told Home Health Care News’ Jason Oliva.
The chef can visit twice a week, weekly, or bi-weekly, based on the senior’s need and preference. After an initial consultation, a senior-specific menu is prepared, a chef is assigned, and then the culinary friendship is forged.
Like many senior care services, this one was born from family need. Allman told NPR that the inspiration for Chefs for Seniors was his wife's grandmother. She entered assisted living ten years ago, when she could no longer cook for herself. The family knew she could have stayed in her own home longer if she had access to nutritional and tasty meals.
But don’t give up on senior communities. Many assisted living facilities have also discarded the notion of industrial food for their residents. Chefs like Carol Koty at Lockwood Lodge at Masonicare at Newtown are providing restaurant-quality meals to the seniors for whom they cook. Caregiverlist recommends you thoroughly check into all your senior care options, from in-home care, specialty care (like Chefs for Seniors), independent and assisted living, and nursing homes for your specific eldercare needs.