What Are the Key Issues in the Residential Care Industry?

Stephen Campbell
Stephen Campbell

There is a staffing crisis in group homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Almost half (44 percent) of the direct support professional (DSP) workforce leave their jobs every year. Many of those job openings go unfilled; currently, one in six DSP positions is vacant.

What factors cause rampant turnover and widespread job vacancies?

For starters, DSPs earn low wages, typically $12.00 an hour, which are hardly competitive with the wages offered by big-box retailers and fast-food chains. Employers would like to invest in wages, but they are under immense financial pressure for several reasons, not least including low Medicaid reimbursement rates.

As well as limited public funding, employers also struggle to invest in DSP jobs because the cycle turnover and recruitment can consume needed resources. The staff time required to replace a single DSP is estimated to cost employers between $2,400 and $5,200. Nationally, the cost of turnover in group homes tops $2.3 billion.

When vacant DSP positions go unfilled, many employers spend heavily on overtime wages to mitigate the effects of short staffing on resident care. But each hour of overtime inflates labor costs by 50 percent (to account for time-and-a-half pay), not to mention the physical exhaustion and burnout that long hours cause among caregivers. Overworked employees are more likely to call out of their shifts or leave their jobs altogether, which only worsen short and long-term staffing issues.

When employers cannot find workers who are willing to take overtime shifts, they might turn to staffing agencies that charge high prices to cover the costs of replacement worker wages plus administrative overhead.

Because employers struggle to improve job quality, the staffing crisis in group homes is spiraling out of control. From 2016 to 2026, there will be a total of 353,000 job openings in groups homes.

To fill these vacancies, employers will need to consider job quality holistically. Of course, wages are important, but caregivers also need to feel well-supported on the job and respected for the invaluable services that provide.

Generating the resources to achieve this vision will require innovation. Enter CareOff—a new, high-tech tool that will disrupt the seemingly endless cycle of poor job quality for workers and inconsistent care for residents. The app offers new tools 1) to optimize the existing workforce and 2) to provide supplemental staffing services that don’t break the bank. To learn more about how CareOff can benefit your organization, contact us today!

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