Employer of Choice Program

Maine — NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
July 2005

Contact: Joanne Miller, ASK…for Home Care, 207-354-7077
joanne@askforhomecare.com

Maine Home Care Agencies Working to be an Employer of Choice

“Direct care health workers are increasingly difficult to find, and once you find them they are increasingly difficult to keep” *

Maine is one of several states seeking solutions to the shortage of direct care and support workers to serve elders and people with disabilities. Selected home care agencies are participating in a grant-funded program to demonstrate and evaluate programs to recruit and retain their direct care staff. Federal funds awarded to Maine by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for a Direct Service Worker Demonstration Grant will be used to implement and evaluate the “Employer of Choice Program for Finding and Keeping Direct Care Workers.”

ASK…for Home Care is pleased to announce their selection as one of four agencies chosen to implement the programs, focusing on their Homemakers, Personal Care Attendants/Personal Support Specialists and Certified Nursing Assistants. They are also participating in the Direct Care Workforce Study, and evaluation being conducted by the Muskie School of Public Service and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The agency’s direct care workers are key participants in the project, forming leadership teams at each Agency to plan and carry out specific activities. Coordination services are being provided by USM’s Pathways to Higher Education Program, a leader in workforce development initiatives in Maine.

It is essential for home health and home care agencies to determine why direct care and aide employees are difficult to recruit and retain. By understanding this, agencies can work to create a workplace where quality direct care staff will choose to stay employed. This is important not only to the bottom line in the business but is a critical component to the quality of care that is provided for clients and their families. This project will support and enhance the participating agencies’ recruitment and retention efforts by providing management information, management tools, and a thorough analysis of the dynamics of turnover among agency-based direct care/service workers. The results will also be used to inform policy makers regarding the need to support this workforce and the agencies that employ them.

Maine’s growing population of people aged 65 and older, and the demand for home-based services, place home health and personal care aides top on the list of job openings for years to come. The agencies filling these jobs must complete with the retail, fast food and telemarketing businesses to recruit and hire staff. The other jobs often pay higher wages and offer benefits that home care agencies cannot afford. But people who choose to work in direct care are making a commitment to caring for others. The work is rewarding but is also very difficult, and many direct care workers leave. To ensure high-quality services to long term care residents and clients, these employers are seeking ways to improve the quality of the direct care jobs, are listening to their direct care staff, and are implementing new ways to value and support their direct care workers.

An Employee Advisory Committee was chosen to hear the views of the Direct Care Worker. The chosen participants were Connie Dyer, Trudy Black, Julia Smith, Diana Drinkwater. They are the voice of the Direct Care Worker implementing strategies, thoughts and ideas of the employees. They will attend monthly meetings and present their ideas to Sherrie Winton, Site Coordinator.

Joanne Miller, Administrator of ASK…for Home Care, is excited to be able to contribute to this important study. “ASK has always enjoyed a stellar reputation and is proud to be selected an Employer of Choice. Employee involvement is improving the workplace is critical to our success. The Employer of Choice program is a big step in the right direction in improving the care of the elderly”.

For more information please contact Elise Scala, 228-8423, scala@usm.maine.edu

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