By Deane Beebe, Director of Public Education and Media Relations, Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute
An independent evaluation of the Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI) found that the home care aides who graduated from the program were more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to stay on them.
HAWI, a multi-year, foundation-funded training and employment initiative in New York City, was designed and implemented by PHI to improve the skills, job satisfaction, and retention of the entry-level home health aide workforce as a strategy for improving the quality of home care for older adults.
Over 500 newly hired home health aides graduated from HAWI. Of the graduates, 228 completed a three-month follow-up survey which found that 91 percent were either “very satisfied” (62 percent) or “satisfied” (29 percent) with their jobs. These findings suggest that the HAWI training was effective in setting the aides’ expectations about the work, reports the evaluation (pdf).
The newly trained home health aides also had “demonstrably higher” retention rates at three months (88 percent) compared to the retention rate of aides who were hired prior to the HAWI implementation period (79 percent) and aides who were hired during the implementation period but did not have HAWI training (76 percent). These “superior” retention rates persisted at six months (76 percent) for the HAWI-trained aides compared to the aides hired before the training was implemented (70 percent) and aides without HAWI training who were hired during the implementation period (64 percent).
HAWI was implemented in 2013 at three New York City-based UJA-Federation of New York home care agencies serving thousands of elders in New York City: Best Choice Home Health Care, a member of the CenterLight Health System; Jewish Home Lifecare; and Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.
“This initiative addresses the Weinberg Foundation’s complementary funding priorities of aging services and workforce development,” said Weinberg Foundation Board Chair Ellen Heller. “Judging by the survey responses of Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative participants, and their three- and six-month retention rates, HAWI was a success. Findings from this pilot initiative offer a model to strengthen direct-care workforce training, employment, and quality of care throughout New York City and beyond.”
The HAWI curricula require 120 hours of classroom training as well as the regulatory requirement of 16 hours of supervised practical training with a home care client. The curriculum consists of the following five core components:
- Special home health aide recruitment and screening procedures designed to select the most able, work-ready trainees
- Customized adult-learner centered home health aide training with a model home health aide curriculum and training of trainers
- Peer mentoring for home health aides
- Coaching of home health aide supervisors
- Supportive services/case management for home health aides both pre- and post-employment
“We believe that a logical chain of association can be traced from the HAWI model — particularly its carefully implemented training component — to the satisfaction, confidence, and expectations of the training graduates and the superior three- and six-month retention rates of HAWI new hires,” concluded the evaluation, which was conducted by the Center for Home Care Policy & Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
“The success of the HAWI pilot demonstrates the importance of quality recruitment and training techniques as well as enhanced workforce supports, which we believe will ultimately lead to improved care for the growing population of older adults,” said Alisa Rubin Kurshan, UJA-Federation’s executive vice president of Community Planning and Agency Resources.
“Good training with the right curricula and employment supports for entry-level home care aides is critical to building the adequate, stable home care workforce our nation needs to meet rapidly increasing demand for the in-home services and supports these essential workers provide,” said PHI President Jodi Sturgeon.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the UJA-Federation provided lead funding for HAWI; other supporters were the New York Community Trust, the Surdna Foundation, and the New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare through the NYC Workforce Development Fund and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions/Social Innovation.