You can access a rewarding career, you just need to know the top questions to ask homecare employers
Finding a rewarding career in-home care can be challenging. We know because we are a home care cooperative that is worker-owned and operated, and many of us come from previous home care work. We are more than familiar with the struggles home care aides have to overcome to provide compassionate care.
If you are new to the industry or are a veteran at assisting individuals with daily living, you might be thinking, is this the right career for me? How do I go from a job I hate to a job I love? It starts with asking the right questions of potential employers and doing a little research. Even if you are new to home care services, this can be a first step towards finding the best home care job you’ve ever had.
Putting things into perspective: The pandemic put home care services in the spotlight as an essential service. As the crisis known as the silver tsunami looms over this country, home care agencies are ramping up their hiring to meet the coming demand for part-time and full-time caregivers.
Top Questions to Ask Homecare Employers
If you’ve decided to apply for a new position, whether it's at a franchise home care agency or a worker-owned cooperative, you’ll want to be prepared to ask the right questions. Here’s a guide to the top 3 questions to ask home care employers:
Question 1 to Ask Your Potential Home Care Employer: What do the workers at your agency say about their working conditions?
Is it ok to ask about working conditions? Absolutely, it is. When you are applying for a job you are entering into a relationship with your employer and like in any relationship, understanding what other employees have shared as feedback will help you decide whether this is an agency you want to join. An organization with a healthy culture will be able to share with you feedback they’ve gotten and potential solutions that they have either implemented or are working towards to acknowledge the feedback they’ve gotten.
Caregivers often report dissatisfaction with wages, lack of benefits, and workplace conditions as reasons for quitting. We know working conditions are not good because data shows that the caregiver turnover rate for the last couple of years has remained around 60% (Source: 2022 HCP Benchmarking Report). Career caregivers are seeking a healthy work-life balance, often reporting burnout because of long hours and low wages, and many find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. Caregivers benefit from having a management team that knows the significant challenges they overcome and that provides a workplace culture that puts people over profits.
Home care cooperatives don’t take for granted how a healthy workplace environment can go a long way in making care workers happy. That’s why membership in-home care cooperatives rose from 2019 to 2021 (source: 2021 Home Care Cooperative Benchmark Report), during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Question 2 to Ask Employer: How is my voice heard by the management of the company?
This question will help you further understand how much a company values you and your input. Have you ever worked at a company where you were afraid to speak up and possibly lose your job? That’s a red flag to notice and consider when interviewing a potential employer. Care workers are an important part of the engine driving a home care business. Have you ever felt that you could help by providing ideas to improve services? You are right! As the frontline worker in the client's home, you are the best person to suggest improvements for services, a smart company will understand that and will make an effort to hear from you.
Unlike traditional home care agencies, home care cooperatives are participatory, and business profits are shared equitably among all employees who choose to buy into the company. Not only do you have a voice, but you also financially benefit from running a profitable business.
Question 3 to Ask Employer: Is there an opportunity to grow at your company?
This question will help you envision what your future could be with the company you are interviewing for. Home care agencies that promote from within can tap into a pool of skilled caregivers to help lead the company. This type of culture incentivizes employees to stay and grow with the company. It demonstrates a two-way communication between workers and management, and shows a commitment to formalized methods of communication so employees can share concerns and problem-solve issues with management. Turns out that lack of communication is the #1 reason why employees leave their home care jobs.
Cooperative home care agencies hold regular meetings and members are able to participate in decision-making by practicing open-book management and democratic governance. Cooperatives often have committees that need leadership and members are encouraged to take on additional responsibilities as part of the collective ownership of the business. Yes, it is much more engaged than a traditional home care agency, and there is a lot more reward in the long run. Worker-owned cooperatives are committed to fostering internal leadership and hiring from within. Nearly all home care cooperatives are led by former caregivers or a majority of office staff are former caregivers.
The Cooperative Difference
What’s the cooperative difference? Hint: It’s all about its worker-owners!
Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) is proud to be one of the only home care cooperatives in the Bronx. We take care of our own by ensuring that caregivers have the training, resources, and support that they need to be successful on the job. And when profits are generated it is shared among all the worker-owners. We also do not compromise on the quality of care we provide, treating all of those under our care with dignity and respect.
Keeping the wealth in our communities is a high priority for cooperative businesses. To learn more about our cooperative, visit the link.