Home Care Must Cater to Younger Workers

Home care must cater to younger workers, panel says (mcknightshomecare.com)

Even as home health and hospice face financial and compliance hurdles, the workforce challenge is still paramount. Organizations need to offer work environments that appeal to younger workers. That was the consensus of a panel of home care experts at a session of Axxess’ Agile conference in Dallas last month.

“When we’re looking at this environment and attracting people to come work … whether it’s hospice or home care, we have to look at the actual generation that you’re trying to recruit … your millennials, your Zs, and they’re looking for specific things,” said Jennifer Kennedy, vice president of quality, standards and compliance for Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP). “They’re looking for flexibility in staff, work-life balance. They wanna see a career ladder laid out right at the interview — how can I move up? But they’re also looking for an environment that has a culture that they feel good about clicking into. So all of these things are something that all organizations have to consider if they’re going to be attractive to that up-and-coming generation.”

Given the workforce shortage, one of the most effective steps an organization can take is to groom leaders.

“Getting the right leaders in place, that to me is No. 1,” Sara Castillo, chief quality officer and senior vice president for AccentCare Inc., told the audience. “Culture. That comes with the right leaders, investing in the leaders … There’s not a lot of leadership and you have to kind of develop your own now and really find some leadership programs and some great opportunities for your staff.”

Arlene Maxim, senior clinical consultant with tech firm Axxess, agreed.

“I think that leaders, in general, we have to groom them because they just aren’t out there,” she said. “We have such a shortage in just basic staffing that it’s hard to find people that we can actually bring up to that level.”

Besides the workforce crisis, the home health and hospice fields have confronted some big stumbling blocks over the last year. One of them is steep Medicare cuts. Another is the boom in fraudulent hospices. Regarding the latter, hospices will have to continue to enforce best practices to ensure they don’t run into compliance issues, Castillo said.

“Some of the ones that we do here are monthly operational reviews,” she said. “You actually meet with the office and it can be virtual, but you’re meeting there and you’re reviewing things. You’re looking at anything that can be a red flag, and you’re doing metric reviews. For example, you’re looking at long length of stay, but you’re also looking at short length of stay. One is, was the patient eligible? The next one is, does the patient continue to decline?”

The nursing degree scandal also will force home health and hospice agencies to be diligent about compliance, panelists said. Regulators in March said they are cracking down on nurses who received fake diplomas from three Florida schools.

“I think you all are going to have to be really, really careful over the next several years because I don’t think this is going to be sorted out in a short amount of time, over the several years, of who is going out and providing care to your patients,” Maxim said. “I think your clinical skills assessment piece is going to be a big part of that … We’re going to have to look at skills. We’re going to have to maybe put them through certification programs and see how well they do.”