The franchisees employ around 7,000 home care workers, most of them over 55 years of age. “We would like to add an additional 1,000 to 1,500 caregivers through this program,” said Namrata Yocom-Jan, company president.
In east Tennessee, where Ray Bales runs two Seniors Helping Seniors franchises, 11 people applied in a week after promoting $ 200 in bonuses on Facebook, he said. He hopes to attract 30 to 40 new workers. (No one objected to funding the company’s philanthropy with $ 50 from their potential bonuses, he said.)
But bonuses may not keep newcomers working in an area with notoriously high turnover – more than 80 percent in 2018, the Home Care Association found. Since then, sales have fallen; nevertheless, two thirds of the agency employees leave the company every year.
Some helpers take advantage of higher wages in retail, fast food, and other industries. Others have moved to independent work, avoiding intermediaries who pocket at least half of what customers pay for.
Wendy Gullickson, a licensed practical nurse in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, only spent a few months as a $ 13-hour agency before discovering she could make $ 25 as a private assistant – still less than local agencies charge. (Home care averaged $ 23 to 24 an hour across the country last year, but it was $ 29 to 30 in Massachusetts.)
For advocates, therefore, the key to attracting new home care workers is no secret. “What they need is a competitive wage because they can earn as much or more in other full-time sectors,” said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI.
In 2018, the country’s estimated 2.8 million domestic helpers, most of them black women and about a third immigrants, earned an average of $ 12 an hour and $ 17,200 a year. Very few received benefits; more than half relied on grocery stamps, Medicaid, or other public aid.