Caregiving for Change: Could How We Describe the Role of Caregivers Fill the Shortage?

Every week in our internal email newsletter our Homespire team shares moments where caregivers, nurses, staffing teams, and others impact a client’s life. We do this for one main reason: to inspire our team. Sometimes in the monotony of our days and the challenges of our jobs, we forget to focus on how we are making a difference and why we are doing it.  It seems expected in our jobs as healthcare workers to just do and then we burn out.

I’d like to share a few:

  • Last Saturday when our mother was coming home from a family party, she suffered a fall, after passing out and falling to the floor. While we were distraught and in panic mode over the situation, our Homespire caregiver went right into action remaining calm and collected. She checked Mom’s pulse while calmly speaking her name. We soon realized Mom was in good hands, putting our mind at ease.
  • When one of our Homespire caregivers noticed a client was not acting ‘right’ she contacted the family and the office. A Homespire nurse followed up with the daughter immediately to discuss symptoms and suggested they take her to Instacare. Once there, they discovered the client had a UTI and an irregular heart rhythm. Thanks to quick thinking of the caregiver, this client was able to get treated immediately and remain in her home. Her awareness, communication, and care kept this client out of the ER and hospital.
  • The daughter of one of our clients said, “Our Homespire caregiver is so kind and sweet and my dad feels very comfortable around her and appreciates her kindness.”

I share these as a reminder – the impact of what caregivers do is changing the experience for the seniors they serve and their families. Without them, our clients could end up in the ER, hospital, or worse, and they wouldn’t have someone advocating for or focusing on what matters most to them. It’s a critical issue here in Utah but also nationwide as the caregiver shortage  we’ve been talking about for years is here. It’s scary to think who will help the aging population and their families if we can’t hire enough people to fill the roles?

Nurturing Our Caregivers – Why Your Spark Matters

At Homespire we focus on the ‘spark’ or the inspiration of why we do what we do first. The reality is, caregivers or home health aides, are the frontline deliverers of what health ‘care’ can be – if we take the time to nurture our people. The approach and the room to be creative can make all the difference in how it’s delivered but also in how it makes the caregivers feel. In other words, when we give caregivers permission to perform more than tasks to build trusting relationships and discover who their clients are as people, it inspires everyone.

That follows along with what Harvard Business Review found in their research about the three things employees want: career, community, and cause.  Caregiving jobs can often be the steppingstone to a deeper, meaningful healthcare career within their community and being part of a movement that’s changing the experience for seniors gives them purpose. Having first-hand experience of what it’s like to provide direct care to a senior can make you a more compassionate and empathetic nurse, physician’s assistant, physician, or innovator in changing healthcare. You learn so much from hands-on caregiving, perhaps even more than what can be taught.

Empathizing with what seniors deal with daily, what motivates them, what makes them sad or inspired, where healthcare and the system limits their ability to live fully, can really help us all become better innovators, even better change-makers. It’s how Homespire CEO, Joel Theisen, BSN set his vision for changing the experience seniors faced more than 25 years ago as a nurse on the frontlines. In an article in Home Care Magazine Joel said, “If we just learned to focus on seniors holistically, we could help them improve their health but also inspire those who care for them,” said Joel.

As Homespire continues to grow and reach more seniors in need of a new model of senior care that addresses social determinants of health along with traditional ‘care’ using a whole person approach – we need more people to help us inspire seniors and change healthcare.  To do that, it’s time to stop talking about what caregiver jobs are lacking (pay, benefits, hours) and highlight what they provide (inspiring work, compassionate relationships, and innovation). On a side note: Homespire actually does offer competitive pay, flexible hours, benefits and we focus on all the good stuff, too (and we’re hiring).  Maybe filling the shortage does start with how we describe the role of the caregiver – they are so much more powerful than what’s on paper.

What do you think? How has being a caregiver inspired your healthcare career?