Diversity in home care is inevitable, necessary...and a great thing! Learn more about the current and future demographics of the home care industry. And, understand just how diversity makes for a better home care agency. Lastly, we’ll share important reflections and tips for dealing with a diverse client/caregiver population and overcoming challenges at your home care agency.
Home Care Worker Demographics
More than 2 million home care workers across the U.S. provide personal assistance and support to older adults and people with disabilities in home and community-based settings. The home care workforce has doubled in the past 10 years as more care moves from institutions to the community.
- About 9 in 10 home care workers are women, and their median age is 45.
- People of color make up more than half of the home care workforce (while people of color make up about ¼ of the total U.S. population).
- Over one-quarter of home care workers were born outside the United States. But, nearly 90 percent are U.S. citizens.
Why Diversity in a Home Care Agency Matters
- By 2050, the population of people over the age of 65 will nearly double.
- From 2014 to 2024, home care occupations are projected to add more jobs than any other single occupation, with an additional 633,100 new jobs. Home care is among the top 10 fastest-growing occupations.
- At the same time, labor force participation among women ages 25 to 64, who currently make up 73 percent of home care workers, will increase by only 2 million in the next decade, compared to 6.3 million in the previous decade. This means that despite the growth in demand for home care workers, the pool of likely applicants will be much smaller.
As we can see, the home care industry will continue to face workforce shortages. A home care agency will need to bring in the best talent from all walks of life. The industry also needs to find ways to attract men and other workers it isn't tapping into now. A successful home care agency must provide a supportive workplace and focus on retaining quality employees.
Diverse Clients, Diverse Needs
The aging (and overall) population is also diversifying. Many states will become “majority minority”, as Florida will by 2050. The base of home care workers must, by necessity, be at least as diverse. Home care clients also continue to demand more varied support. With a growing aging population receiving care at home, home care agencies must have a highly competent, diversified workforce prepared to help.
Any quality home care agency must be focused on meeting the client’s specific needs. Nowadays, this might include much heavier care than in the past. In addition to having the knowledge and skills to handle the tasks, there’s the art of the caregiver-client match. Caregivers must be attuned to client preferences and the “little things” that personalize home care. Not every caregiver is the right match for every client. Without a diverse workforce, home care agencies won’t even have enough bodies to meet the needs. And, they definitely won’t have the capacity to find the RIGHT caregiver for the client.
Strength through Diversity
The biggest reason diversity is great for home care is bringing a multitude of strengths to the table. Different perspectives, backgrounds, knowledge and personalities...make your home care team stronger. This means not only hiring diverse staff but also encouraging them to express opinions and give input. Some of your best ideas may come from the varied viewpoints your workforce offers. (If you’re struggling with attracting or retaining diverse candidates or running into operational challenges, consider turning to workers with different backgrounds to get new perspectives.)
Creating a Supportive, Diverse Home Care Agency
Home care agencies need to focus on several areas. Quality starts with a strong recruitment process for attracting a wide array of candidates and an efficient hiring process. Check out EasyLiving’s Job Board for one example of what we’ve done to improve home care hiring.
Next, of course, comes training and support. Agencies should provide a thorough orientation and training program. But, more importantly, ongoing support and quality control keep the caregiver and client happy. Especially with diverse workers and clients, you need to be able to quickly identify concerns and address issues. Differences can and should be a huge strength, but it is also important to prepare workers to provide culturally sensitive care. For everyone to have a successful home care experience, agencies must focus on care planning. Also, good listening skills and strong empathy are as necessary as any technical skills.
At EasyLiving, we incorporate all of this into both our orientation/training program and our quality care program. Find out a bit more about how our philosophy shapes what we do. This driving mission helps us attract diverse talent, set them up for success, and therefore retain satisfied caregivers (and clients!).
Doing Better: Dealing with Conflicts
Our mission guides all we do, and this includes how we deal with conflicts. Our caregiver support extends to the way we address issues of prejudice. We have zero tolerance for discrimination. This means we never allow a client/family to determine their chosen caregiver solely based on skin color, ethnicity or other such factors. We ask each client to meet the caregivers we deem best for their needs.
Our team doesn’t hesitate to have honest conversations with clients and families, and to listen carefully to their worries, concerns, etc. However, no matter what, we stay committed to our mission to do better by the caregivers who ARE our business.
Additionally, by attending initial client meetings and doing immediate follow-up we spot issues quickly. This might mean noticing something to help the caregiver do the job better. Or, it could mean we hear about a cultural misunderstanding that can be addressed before it turns into a problem.
Thinking through your whole process better equips your home care agency to successfully serve both diverse caregivers and clients.
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