Ideas To Address the Home Health Care Nursing Shortage

Home care is becoming one of the largest employers in not only the medical field, but also the U.S. economy.

It is an industry powered by home health care nurses and caregivers who are ready to provide care to some of the most vulnerable patients in our society.

With demand growing and supply dwindling on the clinician side, agencies should be hustling to adopt more efficient methods of recruitment, scheduling and management processes, but this is not always the case.

Home health care is appealing to anyone looking to start a new career as a caregiver and work their way up within the industry. It’s also a source of supplemental income to nurses who could pick up a few extra shifts in their downtime and earn a bit more money doing what they love.

But it still has a long way to go and many former nurses and caregivers have chosen “gig-based” work elsewhere, which offers more flexibility and stability.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a nurse driving for Uber or picking up a shift as a waiter or waitress in lieu of pursuing a difficult-to-find home health care case.

Barriers to the hiring process

The hiring process for a nurse or caregiver in home health care can be long and arduous, with many requirements necessary for hire, including background checks, references and proof of qualification. This process can take weeks from beginning to end, with very few candidates sticking it out all the way through the hiring funnel.home health care

Those who do get hired after the process typically leave after about three months. Many clinicians opt to work for multiple agencies at once to keep their shift options open and allow more control over their careers, schedules and travel distances.

It’s no wonder the $3 billion spent on home health care recruitment is disproportionately — 53% — focused on re-engaging clinicians who once worked at the agency but have since left for work elsewhere.

After such an extensive recruitment process, with so many steps involved, it is illogical so many clinicians abandon the field for seemingly greener pastures.

However, inefficiencies in recruitment, scheduling, communication and even payroll at times, are deterring nurses and caregivers off the home health care path, even after such a high barrier to entry.

Although the recruitment journey for nurses and caregivers is clogged with interviews, screenings, background checks, references, proof-of-skills processes and even more interviews — it’s worth it. Home health care has the potential to provide a great full-time or supplemental income, with flexible hours and the chance to establish close, intimate connections with patients in their home, when they’re most in need.

But while one’s heart may tell him or her home care is a dream, to the person’s rational brain, the responsibility of paying the bills, balancing multiple jobs at once and crunching numbers spent on travel for just one case can make home healthcare unsustainable.

Technology changes the landscape

Technology is going to make some quick changes to the home health care industry with location-based, mobile solutions to give nurses and caregivers more control over their schedules, careers and ultimately, their lives.

Keeping clinicians focused on what matters — their patients — should be something that all of us strive to accomplish.

For more home health care data points, view the infographic  “A Nurse’s Journey: How to Get Hired in Home Healthcare.”