Building a Better World for the Caregiver

February 8, 2022

In 2018, the median caregiver turnover rate was 82% (up by 15% from the year prior) according to the 2019 Home Care Benchmarking Study. In extreme cases, turnover is so bad that facilities have to turn away new clients simply because they do not have enough caregivers.

Not only are facilities hamstrung from growing their business, but the options for high-quality professional care are becoming more sparse for families in need around the country.

There are a few factors that have shown to increase caregiver satisfaction and reduce turnover:

  1. More money, especially as retail and food service industries increase wages.
  2. Better onboarding processes and training.
  3. A more visible and attainable career ladder where caregivers are rewarded for their performance.

Salary and Career Mobility Woes

Up to 12% of caregivers say they have interviewed or worked for Amazon over the past year, research from online job board myCNAjobs suggests.

For instance, Amazon bumped its starting wage to $18 an hour for transportation and fulfillment, and sometimes up to $22.50 in some locations. Further, it offers perks such as paying for the full college tuition costs for its 750,000 U.S. hourly employees.

With the median caregiver pay hovering around $13.02 per hour, it’s no surprise that up to 12% of caregivers disclosed that they interviewed or worked partially for Amazon in 2019, per myCNAjobs job board data.

The United States is dealing with an employment shortage of massive proportions, facilities are faced with record caregiver turnover rates, and employees have more options than ever before.

Scaling caregiver pay may help reduce caregiver turnover, and many facilities may be forced to balance what they pay caregivers and what they bill clients. However, simply bumping pay isn’t the only definite way to foster a better work environment for caregivers.

Building a better world for the caregiver means getting ahead of the curve, rather than playing into a never-ending cycle of salary benchmarking and catch up.

Eldertech can substantially mitigate staffing shortages and the lack of occupation satisfaction.

A Mile in the Caregiver’s Shoes

The caregiver occupation as described by caregivers often includes words like: physically demanding, hard to keep up, mentally taxing, high emotional toll, and stressful. However, despite the difficulties of the occupation, many caregivers still describe their roles as rewarding, particularly if you love providing service for others. You do it because you care.

Spread thinner and thinner, caregivers get the frontline impact of employee shortages and increases in client demand. The role becomes less about providing deep personalized care and fostering good relationships with clients, and more about picking up the extra slack so every patient gets at least some level of minimal care.

However, employee shortages are an easy scapegoat to distract away from the inefficiencies of legacy systems in healthcare facilities, which have been sapping caregivers of their focus and productivity for decades.

Alert fatigue, for instance, is one of the most significant issues for caregivers, just behind the caregiver notion that these and similar legacy systems are ineffective. The issue is twofold: false alerts and the misclassification of care.

False alerts, usually due to technical malfunction or inappropriate use, gradually dull out even the best caregivers, leading them to become slower to respond and generally less sensitive to alarms.

Suppose one out of ten alerts is a false alarm in a facility with 1,000 alerts per month. One hundred times per month, a facility’s minimal number of caregivers are expected to rush to the resident, only to find no problem to solve.

Since legacy tech is particularly hardware heavy, “debugging” systems such as easily triggered sensors is a costly endeavor– it’s not as easy as pushing a software update that could address the issue.

Further complicating the situation is that many of the companies that provided the legacy tech that was installed decades ago may not even be around, and facilities are left to find “workarounds” or simply just ask their caregivers to try to bear the consequences.  

Absent of the appropriate contextual information, an alert is just a blinking light and noise to the caregiver. Personalized care should be the standard; the constant barrage of alarms and lights without context or indication of priority saps caregivers of their focus and robs clients of the higher level of care they could be getting.

At a minimum, our tools should make it easier for caregivers to focus their energies on what they do best, providing care.

Legacy tech errs today because it attempted to optimize for efficiency rather than utility. In doing so, it dehumanized caregivers into human response systems. Granted, it was better than nothing when it came out decades ago, but enterprise and consumer technology today is seemingly lightyears ahead of legacy products. A better world for caregivers starts with better onboarding, and new team members should at least have confidence in the underlying technology supporting their role.

Tools such as Sage also make it possible to aggregate deep pools of data, which can improve the caregiver role in many ways.

First, we’re able to build comprehensive and accurate profiles for individual residents, providing caregivers with the level of care necessary and other relevant factors. In fact, all relevant parties can be given access to this data, from medical response teams that urgently need information to custodians that simply have to clean up a mess.  

Second, the Sage system can also illuminate the performance of individual caregivers, giving facilities data-backed tools for compensation increases, promotion, providing benchmarks for new caregivers, or even just giving appreciation and gratitude for a job well done.

Professional caregivers don’t necessarily become caregivers only because of the money– they often do so because of a personal connection and wanting to make an impact; giving proper care is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.

However, the most rewarding aspect is diminished if caregivers are operating in a system where they’re uncertain of the results of their support. We can close the feedback loop by building a product that streamlines data between caregivers, clients, and facilities.

Final Thoughts: The Future of Modern Aging

The demand for caregivers is surging. The role is one of the fastest growing occupations, particularly as the massive Baby Boomer generation enters the elderly demographic. Caregivers and personal care positions are anticipated to grow by 33% from 2020 to 2030– from 3,470,700 in 2020 to a projected 4,600,600 in 2030.

About 600,000 new job openings will pop up every year on average, and much of this is due to workers transferring jobs or exiting the labor force.

It’s a critical moment and time to re-think the caregiver role. How can we make this valuable job a sought-after career, where people are passionate about their work and ready to redefine what modern aging looks like?

We believe the key to modern aging is using technology to scale caregiver capacity, eliminate friction created by inefficiencies in dated legacy systems, and support and recognize caregivers.