Home Care Month 2018: Building a Workforce for the Future

November 2, 2018

Today marks the start of Home Care Month. This is the first of several blogs post reflecting on the current issues impacting the industry.

Every day in this country, 10,000 baby boomers turns 65. This new generation of “elders” are unlike any other to come before it. Economists suggest that these baby boomers control 70% of all US disposable income, yet a large percentage are not well prepared financially for retirement, with savings far below what they are projected to need to “sustain their quality of life.” Thanks to medical advances, these aging boomers should have a longer life expectancy than even the generation before them. They are more educated. They are accustomed to speaking up about their health care needs and they are technologically savvy. And without a doubt, they will be looking for a long-term care delivery system that meets their needs, allows them to age in place with some degree of financial security and with little dependence on their children (whom many boomers are still supporting!).

In short, they will want a high-quality, cost-effective, technologically-advanced home care delivery system. As we celebrate home health care month in Massachusetts and around the country, let’s look at some of what we need to do to make sure we have that in place.

Starting with Workforce Issues

This chart from a recent report from global health care consulting firm, Mercer, depicts what many have written about: There is a huge gap between the availability of a home health aide/personal care workforce and patient need. Massachusetts is among the states expected to feel it the most, and the graphic speaks to how much has to be done in this area.

Home health agencies – dependent on heavily regulated Medicare and Medicaid funding for most of their services – are increasingly unable to offer wage and benefit packages that allow them to compete within the health-care or service-delivery sectors. Added business costs such as the state’s EMAC assessment and mandated paid sick leave make it harder for private home care companies to keep costs affordable and attract workers. Already, many report more demand than they have the workforce to meet.

To ensure an available, productive, and healthy workforce we support:

  • Repealing the onerous EMAC assessment on agencies whose workers access public insurance (Medicaid);
  • Providing premium assistance or pooled purchasing of health insurance for direct care workers;
  • Adequately adjusting Medicaid reimbursements to cover living wages and benefits; and
  • Investing now in the creation of a meaningful, long-term care workforce training, with nurse and aide training funds.

Looking at Technology

There are many who think some of the workforce demand can be offset with the new technologies emerging to support aging at home. These include sensor devices that can detect a multiplicity of conditions and situations including missed meals or medications, a problematic change in weight or blood pressure, or a fall. According to a recent report by the MA state Auditor’s office:

The potential for technological change to impact the labor requirements for home health/direct care workers is considerable. As low cost technologically-based products become available it is likely that these emerging products and services will serve as both substitutes for and complements to home health/direct care occupations.

Most of these technological devices require a receiver to get and act on the collected data. While in some cases this may be a family member, it should also be noted that home care agencies are appropriately poised to be the monitor of remotely transmitted systems, sending a nurse or aide to visit only as indicated. As workforce issues intensify, we would like to see and support:

  • More insurance coverage, including Medicare and Medicaid for remote monitoring devices
  • More modeling of partnerships between private home care companies and technology vendors to test the market for, and price, care extender technologies as part of a private home care plan of care.

Home Care Month is a time to honor the contributions of home health workers who are the lifeline to health care for some many home-bound elders, for isolated and struggling families and for the disabled. Let’s also use this opportunity to listen to and respond to their needs.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Talking Home Care: Eric Scharber on Workforce Challenges: “Whoever Has the Talent Is Going to Win”

May 22, 2018
Eric Scharber of Exact Recruiting

Eric Scharber

For the sixth episode of the Talking Home Care podcast, Pat Kelleher talks recruiting and retention with Eric Scharber, a principal of Exact Recruiting. Topics include:

  • The advantages to employers of focusing on retention as much as recruiting
  • How small changes in retention can make a real difference to an agency’s bottom line
  • Why offering staff development is sometimes more important than pay increases
  • The challenges (and opportunities) of hiring Millennials
  • How to get graduating nurses and therapists to consider careers in home care and hospice
  • The specific challenges of retaining non-medical caregivers such as CNAs and home health aides

You may listen to the podcast by clicking the play button above, downloading it directly, or subscribing through iTunes or Google Play. (Length: 28’30”; Size: 15 MB).

Host: Patricia Kelleher is the Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

GuestEric Scharber is a principal at Exact Recruiting, a Simione Talent Solution, where he leads talent acquisition and employee retention for the home care and hospice industry. He oversees executive search and non-executive recruiting services, as well as recruitment process outsourcing, compensation analysis, and employee satisfaction survey services.

Talking Home Care LogoDon’t want to miss the next episode of Talking Home Care? Subscribe through iTunes, Google Play, or enter the following in your podcast app: https://thinkhomecare.wordpress.com/category/talking-home-care-podcast/feed/

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Alliance Quoted in Article on Worker Training, Background Checks

December 28, 2016

James Fuccione, former Director of Legislative and Public Affairs for the Home Care Alliance, was extensively quoted in an article in the Springfield Republican today.  The article, “Personal care attendants have less training, checks than other home care workers,” by Shira Schoenberg, Statehouse reporter for the Republican, compares background checks and training requirements for workers in the state Personal Care Attendant program with workers employed by home care agencies that provide services under the Executive Office of Elder Affairs home care program.


WBUR Reports on Home Care Workforce Stuggles

December 20, 2016

Home care workforce struggles are being highlighted based on data collected by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute and reported by WBUR.

The data is staggering and all points to a theme that the New England states will struggle with attracting enough home care workers to meet demand. The six states in the region also have the lowest birthing rates in the country. Combined with a rapidly aging population, researchers conclude that the workforce has to come from outside the region and likely outside of the united States entirely. The story points out the following stats:

As of 2014, more than a quarter of the home health care workers in Massachusetts were foreign-born, according to census data compiled by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute. Forty-one percent of the nursing assistants in the state’s assisted living facilities were also born outside of the U.S. And these numbers likely miss immigrants who work part-time or who may be here illegally and working under the radar.

The WBUR story quotes Barry Bluestone, a professor of public policy at Northeastern University who’s run some of the jobs numbers, and predicts that in Massachusetts, “we’re going to need about 93,000 additional home care workers over the next 10 years, or almost 10,000 a year.”

Bluestone lays out that the enormous challenge is potentially compounded by the political landscape:

“These are overwhelmingly immigrant workers, and what I fear is if the current kind of political environment either shuts off immigration, or potential immigrants look at the United States and say this is not a very comfortable or safe place to be,” Bluestone says. “I don’t have any idea how we’re going to fill those 10,000 jobs each year.”

WBUR also had a follow-up piece on their “Morning Edition” show spoke only to 1199 Service Employees International Union as a “representative” of the home care industry and workforce.  SEIU shared national wage data and touted their work to achieve local raises to personal care attendants (PCA), leaving unaddressed the broader problem for home health aides, homemakers and other in-home caregivers related to rates and regulation. Recognizing the difficulty of covering a complex issue in a five-minute radio interview, the Home Care Alliance contacted WBUR with clarifying information and offered the organization’s expertise, along with that of member agencies.

For those looking, employers and job seekers in the home health industry may find career information through the New England Home Care Career Center, which is co-managed by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

 

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


Unique, Grant-Funded Training Opportunity for Central Mass. Home Care Workers

March 24, 2016

Registration is OPEN NOW for the first Community Health Worker (CHW) Registered Apprenticeship Program established in Massachusetts and one of only a few in the nation.

The Center for Health Impact TM (formerly known as Central MA AHEC) in Worcester, Massachusetts is delighted to report that the Fairlawn Foundation Fund of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation has awarded funds to establish the creation of a Community Health Worker (CHW) Registered Apprenticeship Program in Central Massachusetts.

Apprenticeship is a flexible training system that benefits both employers and workers through its structured on-the-job learning and job-related classroom instruction. (Learn more about Apprenticeship USA at: https://www.doleta.gov/OA/apprenticeship.cfm.)

The 150-hour course, anticipated to start on April 5th, 2016 (pending enrollment/subject to change) will be offered free of charge to qualified applicants in Central Massachusetts by the Center for Health Impact TM Outreach Worker Training Institute (OWTI) in Worcester. Participants will earn a certificate of course completion aligned with the requirements established by the Massachusetts Board of Certification of CHWs.

To qualify, an individual must be employed or about to be employed with an employer who will:

  • Provide them 2200 hours of on-the-job paid apprenticeship learning and supervision in one calendar year
  • Reward the apprentice for skills gained by an increase in pay within one calendar year
  • Authorize the apprentice to attend the 150-Hour course (120 hours of class time; 30 hours of homework).

Benefits for employers:

  • Access to free CHW core competency training for employees
  • Access to incentives as an employer working with the CHW Registered Apprenticeship Program
  • Well trained and job proficient employees who meet employers’ specific needs
  • Enhanced employee retention
  • Improved service delivery

For questions, or to request the registration package for the Community Health Worker (CHW) Registered Apprenticeship 150-Hour Certificate Course, please contact: Tatyana Gorodetsky,  at tatyana@centerforhealthimpact.org or by phone at: 508-556-1332.


Boston Globe Names HCA Member Agencies as ‘Top Places to Work’

November 17, 2014

Home care is a tough and rewarding career, but now working for a home care agency could be one of the best places to be employed in general.

Several Home Care Alliance member agencies made a strong showing on the Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work 2014,” where employee satisfaction surveys are used to judge how well companies treat their workers. This methodology propelled four agencies to be recognized on the annual list.

Comfort Home Care earned the top spot under the “large employer” category with an employee amount between 250 to 999.

In the “mid-size” company rankings with an employee number between 100 and 249 workers, three home care agencies made the list: Visiting Angels of Newton and Canton (#6), Able Home Care (#22), and Community Nurse & Hospice Care (#31).

Among the survey statements are the following:

 Direction: “I have confidence in the leader of this company.”

 Execution: “New ideas are encouraged at this company.”

 Connection: “My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful.”

 Management: “My manager cares about my concerns.”

 Work: “This company encourages different points of view.”

 Pay and benefits: “My pay is fair for the work I do.”

 Engagement: “This company motivates me to give my very best at work.”

The Globe invited 1,660 companies to participate in the 2014 Top Places to Work survey. Of those, 366 organizations employing more than 336,000 people went all the way through the process, allowing the Globe to conduct a confidential survey of their workers.

The Home Care applauds the agencies in the “Top Places to Work” ranking and all agencies that keep people healthy and independent at home.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Congratulations To Our Emerging Leaders

January 4, 2013
The 2012 graduates of the Emerging Leaders programThe 2012 graduates of the Emerging Leaders program

The 2012 graduates of the Emerging Leaders program

This week was Graduation Day for our 2012/13 Emerging Leaders Class. The Emerging Leaders program is a collaborative effort between the Home Care Alliance of MA and Suffolk University’s Moakley Center for Public Management.  Students in the program attend classes – taught by Suffolk faculty – one full day a month for nine months. Upon completing the program, they receive a Certificate in  Home Care Management, as well as course credits to apply towards a master’s level program at Suffolk.

In a ceremony attended by family, friends and faculty, the graduates heard from class speaker Michelle Landry about how the students bonded over, and overcame,  their fear of writing class papers and about the value of the course information.   Keynote Speaker Meg Doherty, CEO of NVNA and Hospice, congratulated the class on their commitment to learning and leadership despite the sacrifices made and the disruption to their lives and that of their families.  “As leaders,” she told the class, “you will not just do a job, but make a difference.”

Congratulations to this year’s graduation class:  Barbara Belony, Jose DeLaRosa, Janez Hicks, Michelle Landry, Mary O’Malley, Michelle Sweeney, Jenna Tarara, Bernadette Ward and Kathy Wisenski.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


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