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10 Tips for Hiring Home Health Staff After COVID-19

Home health hiring is in a tough spot. Like most nursing positions, home health aide employment declined in 2020, as many patients canceled appointments to limit virus exposure. But things are changing quickly. With vaccines now readily available and focus shifting away from long-term care facilities, home health care is in great demand. More people than ever want long-term care in their own homes, resulting in high demand and a shortage of candidates.

How the Pandemic Affected Home Health Hiring

In Apploi’s report on Pandemic Hiring and the Future of Healthcare, we found that demand for nurses and caregivers was on the rise in 2020, but applications were on the decline. Home health care workers lost 6,700 roles in April alone. Although positions began to increase again this May, we are still far from reaching post-pandemic levels. 

Home health care managers reported that anxiety around COVID-19 goes both ways. According to a Massachusetts study, over 90% of home health managers had clients cancel visits between March and June of 2020. Over 73% of managers also said that caregivers were concerned about entering patients’ homes. 

But a recent decrease in visits does not mean a decrease in long-term demand. In fact, the pandemic may have prompted more people to realize how much they value at-home care. In October of 2018, an AARP survey found that 76% of seniors wanted to age in place. More recent research has put that number closer to 90%. It’s projected that home care will only rise in popularity going forward. 

How to Hire and Retain Home Health Aides After the Pandemic

Home health care agencies repeatedly name the nursing shortage as the greatest threat to their business. Many recruiters are trying to hire the same, fairly small group of aides. You can’t create more qualified candidates out of thin air, but you can make sure you reach the best talent before they find work with a competitor. 

With decreased employment and high demand for caregivers, it’s time to elevate your home health hiring. Here are our top 10 tips on how to recruit and retain home health aides. 

1. Distribute job posts automatically 

A service that automatically distributes job posts can ensure your open roles get noticed across dozens of sites with a single click. Some services, like Apploi, also provide metrics on job performance, so you can see exactly where your best candidates are coming from. 

2. Use employee referrals

Employee referral programs encourage your current staff to find candidates in their own social circles, taking pressure off the talent acquisition team. Offer incentives, like a bonus or extra PTO, to anyone who recommends a candidate who ends up being hired. It’s an easy way to get more applicants and boost morale. 

3. Make contact over a secure texting platform

In a high turnover field like home healthcare, there’s a good chance your next great aide is working another job while you’re trying to recruit them. It’s hard to maintain contact over email if your candidate is busy with other responsibilities. Try reaching them by text on a secure platform to move the process along more quickly. 

4. Build your online brand

Take a look at your digital recruitment strategy and social media presence. Advertise the best parts of your company culture so applicants get excited about joining your workforce. When you improve your brand visibility, you’re also improving the chance that candidates will come to you first. 

5. Provide opportunities to grow

Home health aide turnover hit 36.53% in 2020—higher than any other home health care position at the time. Schedule career growth conversations with your aides to discuss how they can grow within your business. These conversations can help address the feeling that aides need to leave a business in order to grow. Since replacing caregivers costs an average of $2,600, the effort is well worth your time.

6. Train your own home health candidates

We’ve made the case before for developing in-house CNA training programs. These programs are a cost-efficient way to access qualified staff, and they equally benefit employers and job seekers. For the same reasons, you might consider training HHAs internally. By offering education in exchange for service, you can connect with passionate candidates who might never apply otherwise. 

7. Focus on employee wellness

Home health aide turnover hit an all-time high in 2018, suggesting turnover was already on the rise prior to the pandemic. Nurture your employees and build your brand reputation with regular check-ins and employee wellness initiatives aimed at preventing burnout. Where possible, offer flexible shifts, time off, and career advising.

8. Improve communication

Home Care Pulse’s June survey found the #1 reason aides left their jobs was poor communication. Improving communication with aides is an important and cost-effective way to increase retention. Make sure aides know about schedule changes and get prompt replies to their concerns. If your staff is too busy to guarantee quick communication, consider a service like Apploi that will allow your managers to send emails and texts in bulk, and will automate credential renewal reminders. 

9. Automate home health onboarding

Some of the factors that go into hiring and retaining talent might place a strain on your HR team. Maximize your results by automating where you can. A strong, partially automated onboarding system with paperless processes, for example, can help prepare new caregivers while giving HR more time to focus on other things.

10. Invest in a great ATS

An applicant tracking system can maintain records of prospective, current, and former employees. This is helpful for initial caregiver hiring, but also useful in the event of a rehire. With such a high rate of turnover, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing the same candidates repeatedly. A good ATS will let you keep notes on former staff, so you’ll instantly know who you do (and do not) want to rehire. 

Conclusion 

Home health care is on the brink of even greater demand. The number of people seeking jobs as home health aides is not enough to fill every open role. To make sure your home health care business has the staff it needs to operate at full capacity, you’ll need a recruitment and retention strategy strong enough to give you an edge on the competition.

Interested in learning more about how you can recruit, hire, and onboard healthcare staff quickly? Contact us today for a free demo of our end-to-end solution.

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Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Pritma is a Yale-educated nurse executive with 18 years of experience advocating for patients at the bedside and in the boardroom. She currently serves as the Head of Healthcare Innovation at Apploi—healthcare's leading recruitment and credentialing platform. Over the last decade, Pritma has honed her expertise as a health informaticist, building and improving electronic health records and credentialing platforms. She is the immediate former Executive Director of Electronic Quality and Safety for Alberta Health Services, the largest health system in Canada. Pritma enjoys rethinking healthcare processes to provide safer, better, and more accessible healthcare. https://www.linkedin.com/in/pritma/