Having worked with unlicensed professional Caregivers in Assisted Living and Home Care settings for the past 24 years, I’d like to say “I’ve seen it all”, but the severe shortage we’re experiencing among the post-acute care services now is unprecedented, and frankly worrisome.
A recent article on the CareerPlug site states: “The labor market is undergoing a massive readjustment… In fact, about 2 million women have stopped looking for work since the pandemic began. This is most acutely felt in industries like home health care, where women make up a significant portion of the workforce.”
“Caregiver”, “Personal Care Attendant”, “Resident Assistant” are just some of the names that organizations use to describe one type of employee – the layperson (usually not certified or licensed) who will work in a private home or home-like setting, assisting one or many adults (mostly seniors) with their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs are defined as grooming, bathing, eating, toileting, walking, and taking medications. There’s more to it, of course. These employees also provide residents/clients with companionship, entertainment activities, comfort, a sense of safety, and help them to have meaningful days in many ways. And while ADLs are obviously very important to meet one’s basic needs, the latter is what makes these jobs fulfilling for the employees.
When we’re looking for new staff, it’s fantastic to find highly capable, professional care staff, with many years of experience, vast knowledge, and handfuls of reference letters! The reality is, those folks are likely already working a full-time job (or two) and are not looking for work right now. So, organizations must get creative and dig a little deeper. In recruiting for these valuable positions, I’ve always said “Start with the Heart, skills 02057.23.2.019.indd 1 can be taught.” Some of the best caregiving staff I’ve hired are adults who have had some experience providing care for a family member and realized when that was over that they missed it. As arduous as it can be to care for a loved one, the experience can change the way a person sees the world. One starts to appreciate the little things, like emotionally connecting with the care recipient and the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with affecting their life and seeing them thrive or overcome illness, or even pass away in peace and comfort. Oftentimes, a family caregiver does not want to return to their old job or industry. It doesn’t feel as rewarding to them as it used to, why would it?
CareerPlug’s aforementioned article also says that the way to get good people to work for you is to include compensation and benefits in the job posting. And I’m not arguing that but what if we included the softer benefits too? Perhaps we are looking at an entirely new workforce in the post-acute care industry. What if the ad mentions that we are looking for people who want to help others have meaningful days? You can always learn the direct skills, but we can’t teach someone how to truly care about another human being.
If you’ve been a family caregiver, or taken care of your neighbor, or helped that gentlemen from church, you may be ready for a more rewarding career! Pay is becoming more competitive as the market changes. Organizations may offer flexible schedules to hire the right people. Giving of ourselves to better someone else’s life FEELS GOOD! The service of others feeds our own souls. Why not get paid for it? Consider a job in an Assisted Living or Home Care, and go home at the end of a shift feeling full!
Candyce Slusher, LVN