BOSTON, Massachusetts (December 2, 2021)–Caregivers overwhelmingly prefer to work for, and to stay with, homecare and home health agencies that provide resources for ongoing education, according to a research report from CareAcademy, a homecare and home health workforce empowerment platform provider.
The report, “Education Pathways for Caregivers: An Untapped Opportunity for Employers,” is based on a survey of 1,500 caregivers nationwide, providing insights on caregivers’ interest in pursuing further education, the barriers they face in doing so, and the role of employers in workers’ educational attainment.
“Amid a nationwide shortage of direct care workers, this groundbreaking study shows that offering educational benefits is an untapped opportunity for agencies to materially impact their recruiting and retention efforts, maximize caregivers’ value and improve their career satisfaction,” said Helen Adeosun, founder and CEO of CareAcademy. “Empowering direct care workers with opportunities to continue their education and increase their skills has a far-reaching impact, benefiting the caregiver themselves, their agency employer, and ultimately the clients in their care. This is why we believe that education is becoming a true healthcare intervention.”
Over 7.4 million new direct care workers are needed by 2029 to meet the industry’s growing needs, according to PHI—and the need to attract new entrants into the field and retain existing workers is approaching crisis levels. “Education Pathways for Caregivers: An Untapped Opportunity for Employers” was designed to learn more about caregiver motivations and aspirations to uncover how best to support existing caregivers in delivering high-quality care in the home. Conducted in August and September 2021, the survey engaged caregivers from a broad range of demographics across the country. The full results are available at https://careacademy.com/caregiver-education/.
CareAcademy’s research results show that access to ongoing education resources are a critical decision factor for caregivers when they decide what agency to work for, and whether they stay with their agency. Ninety-four percent of respondents said access to further education is an important consideration in accepting a job offer.
Further, the research indicates that providing ongoing educational opportunities and supporting resources can impact the industry’s high turnover: 85% of caregivers said they’re more likely to stay with their current employer if offered resources to further their education, and 88% said they would feel more satisfied at their job if given opportunities to improve their skills through further education and training. Despite the great interest, 75% of caregivers reported that their employers have never talked with them about additional training or education.
The most common ambitions were to become a nurse (24%), obtain a CNA license (17%), or move into healthcare administration (13%). A full 20% didn’t specify a role type, but indicated interest in staying in a healthcare setting. However, despite an interest in pursuing continuing education, the barriers that caregivers face often mean that they are not able to explore those options. The survey found costs (27%), work schedules (26%) and household caretaking responsibilities (24%) as the top limitations holding them back.
“This research provides a clear signal: If you provide resources and pathways to ongoing education, your caregivers will stay at your agency longer,” Adeosun said. “Resources go beyond simply tuition reimbursement—meaningful supports include credits earned for job training or experience, access to career and advising services, and schedule flexibility. Best of all, these are all levers that are completely within the agency’s control.”
“To become an employer of choice in this labor market—to both compete for talent within the industry and attract workers from other industries—you need to offer job benefits that are meaningful to your caregivers,” said Pete Morrissey, CEO of Right At Home in Gainesville, Georgia. “Going beyond initial or compliance training to offer ongoing skill development classes and tuition reimbursement for CNA programs, nursing certificates or higher education enables caregivers to stay engaged and invested in their own development. Every month we are able to retain a highly engaged caregiver due to our tuition reimbursement program means we are able to continue delivering high-quality care to meet our clients’ needs and improve their outcomes.”
To open up additional pathways to ongoing education for direct care workers, CareAcademy launched the CAREer Path Initiative in April of 2021. This program is designed to address critical industry constraints and attract more workers into the direct care profession through a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Participating employers have the opportunity to extend college credit to their staff for professional training completed in CareAcademy’s platform at no additional cost. The research launching today reaffirms the need for such programs to enable education pathways for direct care workers.
“The caregivers in our study told us loud and clear that they have ambitions toward further education, and the top reason given was to make a positive impact in their communities,” said Jessica Jones, care experience outcomes manager at CareAcademy, who led the research. “Higher educational attainment and job training can result in greater job satisfaction, longer job retention, increased productivity, and higher earning power. When taken together, this study provides a critical piece of the roadmap to recruiting and retaining workers to address the ongoing caregiver shortage.”