2016 04 13 leaking-sieveHome care providers don’t need to be reminded of the caregiver shortage. They experience it every day. It’s the reason why they have to turn down new clients.

The demand for home care services keeps growing with more seniors aging at home and yet the industry is experience growing pains. Home care cannot attract enough caregivers to keep up with the growing demand for services. The Bureau for Labor Statics projects that the number of jobs in home health will grow by 38% and add 350,000 direct care workers. That’s one of the fastest growing occupations in the nation.

Home care providers know that caregivers are critical to their business success. Although there is no silver bullet, the following techniques will improve retention of caregivers:

1) Start with the end in mind

Recruit caregivers who are likely to stay. Consider your best caregivers. What are they qualities? List them and use those as a checklist when interviewing. Consider the characteristics Carmen Davis, of Assisting Angels in Laurence SC looks for when she recruits caregivers: engaging, personable, caring, service-oriented, professional certification, available to work. Could these work for you?

2) Competitive wages.

Although money can’t buy happiness, it contributes greatly at keeping your caregivers happily employed with YOUR agency. I know what you are thinking. “I can’t afford to pay them more.” When you consider the cost of turnover is at least $2,500 per caregiver who leaves after initial training, you should think that you cannot afford to lose those you have recruited. Think about what you could fund with an extra $2,500 per caregiver. Consider implementing step increases for seniority by increasing the hourly wage every six months for the first three years.

3) Client-caregiver relationship

Employees stay because they work with people they like. The reason caregiver stay is because they get along with their clients. Matching client and caregiver is an art. Getting is right is essential to client satisfaction and caregiver retention. This is the key to a sustainable home health business.

4) Meaningful recognition

Besides verbal recognition, caregivers like to get a little extra paid time off. Cash awards and gift cards are also proven techniques to sustain high performance. A gif card to a popular restaurant, movie tickets, invitation for lunch will put a spring in your top caregivers’ steps. And remember the $2,500 you are saving when caregivers stay with your agency.

5) Career progression

Consider offering a coaching role to your top caregivers. Put them in charge of new hires to mentor them during the first months on the job. This new role give your top caregivers a chance grow, learn coaching and take on more responsibilities in your agency. Again, if you think you can’t afford it, think about the cost of turnover. You have to make this work. Bill Hurt, ‎Vice President at American Retirement Homes in Virginia, credits a similar program for their relatively low turnover in caregivers. He notes that putting CNAs in charge of coaching makes good financial sense versus a certified nurse. CNAs relate better to the experience and struggles of new caregivers.

6) Regular feedback

Verbal praise is what caregivers like best when it comes to recognition for a job well done, according to 2015 Home Care Pulse survey (include link improving-caregiver-retention-by-understanding-caregiver-satisfaction).

Feedback from clients – Share with caregivers when you hear positive comments from the clients and their family. Criticism should be shared with the caregiver too but in a way that is be helpful. Focus on the facts, on what the caregiver needs to change and how to change. Avoid passing on the clients’ emotions.

Feedback from the office – Recognize the “good students”, those who do their paperwork correctly and on time. Consider creating a monthly award with a certificate of recognition and a cash bonus.


Recruiting and not retaining caregivers reminds me of the Daughters of Danaus from the Greek mythology. The Daughters had committed a crime and were condemned to bring water to a sieve for all eternity. Have you tried filling up a sieve? It’s frustrating. That’s the feeling experienced by many home care providers who recruit caregivers but cannot keep them. By putting in place a few of those ideas, home care providers who consistently follow through are bound to experience better retention and morale of their staff.