Overcome the Emerging Barrier to Recruitment: Safety Concerns
A new theme is emerging from our latest caregiver research that highlights a barrier to interest in careers in home care – safety. Concerns about caregiver safety in senior care facilities have increased over the past two decades, spiking in 2020 in line with the pandemic and haven’t significantly decreased (see our 2022 research report). Now, as workers continue to migrate to and from various healthcare settings, safety concerns are on the rise in the home care setting.
In the findings of our latest research projects, which will be released in October, safety concerns topped the list of barriers to careers in home care for those early in their career and for those coming from non-home care settings. Additionally, as we’ve been sharing this research with clients, a few have held focus groups with current employees and have found rising concerns about safety among long-time caregivers.
This topic is too important to wait until October to talk about. So, here, in no particular order, are eight tips for how home care leaders can assess and address their performance on safety matters.
1. Talk with your recruitment and HR teams. Map how and when conversations with prospective and current employees about safety issues occur. Assess whether the topic of safety is coming up more often. Also look to your exit interview data to see if there is an emerging trend.
2. Reassess the careers section of your website. (Many of you need to do this anyway as your site is out of date with current candidate expectations, meaning you’re not competing well with other employers.) Do you have information on there about your core values and key policies to provide a great and safe work environment? Consider updating that language.
3. Talk as a senior leadership team and map out your approaches to safety. How do you currently handle safety training, how do you handle incidences? Are you reactive or proactive? What policies and procedures do you have in place before, during and after a home visit?
4. Survey your employees to ask about their safety experiences and how the organization does at fostering a safe work environment. Hold focus groups with employee groups to dig deeper into the feedback.
5. Consider forming an employee-driven safety committee and/or hiring a safety lead to audit the process and put a stronger infrastructure in place to create a culture of safety, including communications frameworks and regular trainings. (Manufacturing companies do this very well. If you have a board member from this sector, tap their expertise or consider having your HR lead reach out to their counterpart at a local manufacturer for advice.)
6. Talk about safety matters with your Board of Directors and solicit input on how their organizations build cultures of safety. Consider integrating safety priorities into your strategic plan.
7. Consult an attorney to ensure you’re complying with all applicable laws, have appropriate policies and procedures, and are effectively managing risk.
8. Add a “minute for safety” to the agenda for each staff meeting to ensure everyone is up to date on policies and procedures. This space can be effectively used to address employee safety concerns or retrain if near misses or incidents occur. This step alone, when done consistently and when employee-raised issues are well-handled, can go a long way toward fostering a culture of safety.
One more tip … Join a trade association like the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), who are proactively studying employee market trends and promoting careers in home care.
The home care workforce is the lifeblood of the industry. Their care and safety are most important so they can care for patients and families. Proactively addressing safety concerns will help protect and reassure the workforce that the home is the place where meaningful, rewarding, innovative and important healthcare is delivered.
Look for our full research reports in October. And, join us at the NAHC annual conference in October, where we will present the findings. If you can’t join us in person, we’ll hold a webinar session in November to walk through the results.