Grow Your Own Home Health Aides To Capture New Business

Demand for home healthcare continues to rise, and at the same time home health aide staffing remains an ongoing challenge for agency administrators. Recruiting qualified aides is one aspect of the staffing challenge, and high turnover is another. To ensure you can maximize your share of the home health market, consider developing your own pool of home health aides by training them from the ground up.

In a recent session at Impact Nation, Relias’ annual user conference, Marissa Brinkman, Relias Product Manager for Post-Acute Care Certifications, explained how a home health aide certification program can yield success for home health agencies.

Benefits of Healthcare at Home

Before COVID-19, the healthcare industry was already experiencing a shift in how our aging population wanted to receive care. Many older people naturally want to stay in their homes and close to their families for as long as possible. Now they are hoping to reduce their risk of infection from COVID-19 and get more consistent care in their homes.

Medicare and other payers also encourage home-based care when appropriate to keep the cost of care low compared with skilled nursing facilities and hospitals.

Financial Drain From Employee Churn

Yet high employee turnover makes consistent home health aide staffing hard to achieve. “For all home health employees, we’re seeing a pretty steady amount of turnover,” Brinkman said in her presentation. “We don’t have the number of employees that it currently takes to meet the care needs of the market.”

In terms of home care aides, the 2020 turnover rate reached 36.5%, according to highlights from a salary report by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and its survey partner.

The repercussions of such high employee churn can be devastating to an agency’s bottom line. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average salary of home health and personal care aides is $27,000 per year. Gallup estimates the cost of replacing an employee at one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.

However you calculate the cost of turnover, it adds up to an intolerable drain on a home health agency’s finances.

Indirect Turnover Costs Add Up

When you’re dealing with high turnover, the costs extend beyond hiring, onboarding, and training a new nurse aide. When your home health aide leaves and you have to find a replacement, your agency can experience:

  • Staffing gaps
  • Reduced service quality
  • Lost client revenue and reimbursement
  • Staff working longer hours to fill in
  • Higher qualified staff filling in for lower rate of reimbursement
  • Staff burnout

With all these gaps and demands, you may notice a deterioration in your organizational culture and employee morale. Naturally, that can harm your service quality, care outcomes, reputation, and financial strength. Those factors can further increase turnover when employees lose confidence, commitment, and respect for your agency and its leaders.

Changing the Rules of Home Health Aide Staffing

With all these factors to deal with, you may sometimes feel like you’re playing a losing game. But you can win by changing the rules of home health staffing and building a stronger team.

Consider creating your own home health aide certification program. Then you can grow your own pool of caregivers by recruiting them to join your training program. That way, you can create your own pipeline of home health aides and stop relying on staffing agencies.

Beyond bringing in more candidates for your home health aide positions, a certification training program allows you to educate your candidates from the start about your own agency culture, values, and procedures.

Planning Your Certification Program

To start your own program, you’ll need to know your state’s specific requirements for home health aide training. The federal requirement for nurse aide certification education is 75 hours of training. Your state may have additional requirements.

Once you know what applies in your state, you can craft your training program to match. You’ll want to ensure you have a consistent curriculum prepared so that all instructors teach the same knowledge and skills.

Beyond what you plan to teach, you’ll need to give plenty of thought to who will do the teaching and administration. You’ll need to find the best qualified people to serve as program director and lead instructor. Of course, all your educators will need to have credentials that match the state’s requirements. You also want to be sure they can engage students with the curriculum.

After you have your curriculum and staff lined up, you’ll need to apply for state approval for your home health aide certification program.

Recruiting Students for the Certification Program

When your program is approved and you’re ready to start promoting it, you’ll need to identify where to find the best student prospects. Think about where you’ve found your best home health aides in the past. You can target certain types of business or job role experience as you gear up for recruiting students.

Your prospective students should have:

  • Reading, writing, and basic math capabilities
  • A caring background
  • Ability to articulate a clear understanding of the role

To ensure you find the best students, consider implementing an employee referral program. Offering a bonus for current employees to refer friends and family will build engagement, loyalty, and a friendly work culture.

So many important factors go into building a strong team in home health. Make sure you have a solid strategic plan for starting your own certification program and halting the caregiver churn.

Terrey L. Hatcher

Manager of Content Marketing, Relias

Terrey Hatcher has worked in professional development and curriculum design organizations for more than 20 years. At Relias, she has collaborated with physicians, nurses, curriculum designers, writers, and other staff members to shape healthcare content designed to improve clinical practice, staff expertise, and patient outcomes. Besides her current focus on healthcare solutions, her experience includes sharing best practices in education, IT, and international business.

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