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Training program improves aide satisfaction, retention

February 23, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Home health aides who graduated from a training and employment program were more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to stay in them, according to an evaluation of an initiative in New York City.

The multi-year Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI) project was implemented in 2013 at three home care agencies. “Judging by the survey responses of Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI) participants and their three- and six-month retention rates, HAWI was a success,” Ellen M. Heller, chair of the board for one of the project’s main funders, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, said in a statement. “Findings from this pilot initiative offer a model to strengthen direct-care workforce training, employment, and quality of care throughout New York City and beyond.” The UJA–Federation of New York, of which the home care agencies are a part, also was a lead funder.

More than 500 newly hired home health aides graduated from HAWI. Of them, 228 completed a three-month follow-up survey, wherein 62 percent said they were “very satisfied” and 29 percent said they were “satisfied” with their jobs. The HAWI training helped set the aides’ expectations about their work, according to an evaluation of the program.

The trained aides also had “demonstrably higher” retention rates at three months (88 percent) compared with the retention rate of aides who were hired before the HAWI program was implemented (79 percent) and aides who were hired during the implementation period but did not have HAWI training (76 percent). These “superior” retention rates persisted at six months (76 percent) for the HAWI-trained aides compared with the aides hired before the training was implemented (70 percent) and aides without HAWI training who were hired during the implementation period (64 percent).

“Good training with the right curricula and employment supports for entry-level home care aides is critical to building the adequate, stable home care workforce our nation needs to meet rapidly increasing demand for the in-home services and supports these essential workers provide,” Jodi M. Sturgeon, president of the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), said in a statement. PHI designed and implemented the HAWI program.

Although the federal government (and New York state) only requires that home health aides employed by Medicare- or Medicaid-certified agencies or facilities have 75 hours of pre-employment training, including the supervised practical training, the HAWI curricula requires 120 hours of classroom training as well as a regulatory requirement of 16 hours of supervised practical training with a home care client. The HAWI core curriculum consists of five core components:

  1. Home health aide recruitment and screening procedures designed to select the most able, work-ready trainees;
  2. Adult learner-centered home health aide training with a model home health aide curriculum and training of trainers;
  3. Peer mentoring for home health aides;
  4. Coaching of home health aide supervisors; and
  5. Supportive services/case management for home health aides both before and after employment.

The UJA-Federation home care agencies that participated in HAWI were Best Choice Home Health Care, a member of the CenterLight Health System; Jewish Home Lifecare; and Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. The findings from the HAWI evaluation (PDF) were released Feb. 20 at a presentation hosted by UJA-Federation of New York's Roundtable on Aging in the Jewish Community.