The State of Home Health Staffing: How to Meet Today’s Biggest Challenges

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

male nurse helping elderly patient put on blood pressure sleeve

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the American healthcare industry, pressure on the home health industry seems to increase every day. Amid labor shortages and difficult mandates from the CMS, just what is the state of home health staffing in the United States? And how you can make sure that you’re prepared for the challenges you’ll face today, as well as in the months and years to come?

Meeting the 3 Biggest Challenges of Home Health Staffing

Challenge #1: Cash Flow and the No-Pay RAP

The “no-pay RAP” has officially been in effect by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) since January 2021, directly affecting the cash flow of home health providers of all sizes across the United States. In the time since, though, different organizations have handled the challenge in different ways.

“Just like COVID-19 and the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM),” notes Andrew Donlan at Home Health Care News, the ability of home health providers to adapt to the change “has been based on their size, capabilities and location, among other factors.”

In other words, larger companies are more readily able to ride out a stormy period with no pre-payments and a heightened risk of fines (those could “amount to a 20% payment reduction,” Donlan notes) by being “a little more thoughtful” about their process. Yet for smaller or mid-sized agencies without the same large-scale resources, the new regulations represent enormous challenges.

How CareerStaff can help. Careful auditing of your billing and reporting is necessary to make sure you’re complying with the current CMS regulations. When you partner with CareerStaff MSP for home health, you’re entrusting this process to true experts who can help make sure you’re compliant, reducing your risk for additional fines.

Learn More about CareerStaff MSP

Challenge #2: The Shortage of Skilled Workers

It should come as no surprise that pretty much every part of the U.S. is experiencing a shortage of essential workers — the kind that home health delivery depends upon. It was a problem even before the pandemic. Now, a year and a half after it began, many home care providers are still struggling to find the workers they need.

For smaller providers, that can mean serious trouble. The “high turnover and shortage of aides” has led to compromised care for many patients, as Phil Galewitz reports for Kaiser Health News (via NPR).

Some government officials are working to help solve this problem by injecting billions into the home care industry, helping to fund the hiring of more workers. But Republicans have balked at a $400 billion boost over complaints that home health doesn’t qualify as “infrastructure.” And in the midst of the deadlock, most facilities have already been forced to tackle the shortage of workers on their own.

One solution that many providers have embraced is partnering with a nationwide home health staffing and recruitment company. Access to a larger pool of workers means a more advantageous handle on labor distribution. And not only can these partners provide workers from elsewhere in the state, but in other states, too, via multistate licensing compacts and Covid-19 emergency protocols.

How CareerStaff can help. As one of the nation’s leading healthcare managed services providers (MSPs) specializing in home health, CareerStaff specializes in helping smaller facilities compete in a competitive labor market. By leveraging a nationwide network, you’ll have access to more workers who are also dedicated to their jobs and passionate about their work.

With the challenges of hiring, retention and even scheduling and billing on our shoulders, you can not only enjoy access to more workers, but the freedom to focus on doing what you do best—running your home healthcare business.

Challenge #3: Worker Dissatisfaction

The shortage of home health workers is no joke — and a big part of that phenomenon is a reluctance for workers to take on difficult work under dangerous conditions, with pay that’s often less than desirable. This is central to the “nearly 50 federal policy recommendations” recently offered by an advocacy organization for direct care workers, as Joyce Famakinwa points out for  Home Health Care News.

In an attempt to improve the quality of the home health workforce by focusing on opportunities for wage increases and career advancement, the report is intended to pressure lawmakers and regulatory agencies to provide additional funding for the home health industry. Under a new administration and amid ongoing infrastructure negotiations, advocates see a rare opportunity to do just that.

“Our country is at a critical point regarding this workforce,” as Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI, told Famakinwa. “The pandemic reinforced the enormous value of these workers, the challenges they continue to face, and how those problems endanger the lives of both workers and the people they support.”

These problems are not new, though — and how can a small or mid-size organization that’s operating in the red afford to pay higher wages, or offer friendlier schedules?

How CareerStaff can help. We can help by giving you access to a network of nurses, clinicians and aides who are fully invested and engaged in their work. At CareerStaff, we take the happiness and wellbeing of our workers very seriously. That’s why we’re focused on offering a culture that goes above and beyond to make workers feel appreciated and motivated in their work.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better support team,” as Bethany, a CareerStaff Clinician of the Month for September, 2020, said of her CareerStaff experience “I have never felt alone in anything that I have done with this company. Everyone is so encouraging and helpful when things don’t work out the way you had originally hoped due to external unforeseen circumstances. You guys rock!”

Optimize Your Home Health Staffing Plan with CareerStaff

At CareerStaff Unlimited, we specialize in helping organizations like yours achieve successful home health staffing plans by providing the workers and the support you need, when and where you need them. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your team, contact us today to set up a consultation with a CareerStaff expert, or request staff now.

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