The demand for caregivers in the home care industry is robust, but difficulty finding qualified employees remains the single biggest challenge for companies wanting to hire more staff, according to a recent study.
Seventy six percent of private duty agencies are expecting to hire more caregivers in 2016 than they did in 2015, says a survey from CareInHomes Caregivers. By contrast only one percent could imagine fewer hires. However, a shortage of caregivers is a major problem facing agencies, with 70 percent calling it their biggest challenge. Recruiting caregivers is difficult, said 55 percent of respondents, due to a lack of qualified candidates.The second most common recruiting problem was finding caregivers who live in relatively close proximity to patients. “Rarely does a professional caregiver live on the same street as a client,” explains the survey. However, only sixteen percent of respondents cited this as their top recruiting issue, so it pales in comparison to the difficulty in finding qualified caregiver applicants. Other challenges cited in the survey were caregiver turnover (13 percent) and paying competitive wages (nine percent). The legal requirements for private duty caregivers is relatively low in many jurisdictions, according to CareInHomes, but home care businesses typically set higher standards for their employees, so the problem is not a lack of candidates who meet the legal requirements, but a lack of candidates who meet an agency’s definition of qualified. So what is a qualified caregiver? According to 82 percent of respondents, a qualified caregiver is one who is “compassionate and personable.” This seems reasonable, since companionship is almost inseparable from quality care in the home care business. However, compassion is not a quality that is obvious on a resume or employment application, making the hiring process tricky. The second-most sought-after quality in a caregiver is having a car and a driver’s license, since traveling to private homes, which are often not near mass transit, is a critical part of the job. As the survey notes, “lacking a car will get you screened out by most agencies.” Other caregiver qualities popular with respondents’ companies were CNA certification (34 percent), personal care assistance (32 percent) and Alzheimer’s or dementia care experience (28 percent). Twenty-two percent of respondents rated paid caregiver experience as one of the top qualities they seek in an applicant. Despite the difficulty in hiring qualified caregivers, companies remain understandably choosy, reporting that they hire only 10-20 percent of applicants, a lower hiring rate than retail or hospitality. This means that the average company needs to interview 15 applicants per week to meet their hiring goals. It is no surprise then, that 83 percent of the companies in the survey interview at least weekly and 15 percent interview daily. With all that time spent meeting prospective employees, 78 percent of the companies surveyed have an employee responsible for recruiting, interviewing and hiring. Clearly, keeping a home care company fully staffed is a lot of work. CareInHomes surveyed a number of private duty home care agencies, the majority of which employed fewer than 50 caregivers.