The labor shortage in senior care is real and it’s only going to get more challenging. Maybe you read about it in the news, maybe you don’t–but it’s real. If you have a loved one who’s in a senior care community or receiving care in the home, you’ve probably felt it. If not, you will. Finding and keeping the good ones is hard.
It was 1pm this past Tuesday. I just had lunch (glamorous 20 minutes catching up with a friend at a food truck) and was racing back to the house to check on Dad before heading out to work at 2pm. Enjoying the ride (and the alone time) my phone rings. On the other end of the line was the owner of the care agency. Here we go I thought.
Kerry, who was scheduled to be with Dad from 2pm through the evening, wasn’t coming to work today. She’d quit and they had nobody to backfill her. They were really sorry and that was it. I like Kerry. She was G-R-E-A-T with Dad. She was good with our family, she just fit in. I was pissed.
Not at Kerry per se (she could’ve given a bit of notice), but I have no clue what’s going on her end. Who am I to begrudge someone for making moves they feel are in their best interest? Quickly shoving my irritation and panic aside, this was just another spot where I had to take some quick action and make decisions.
What Can You Do?
By this point I’m supposed to be at work in 55 minutes. I rattled off a couple of Hail Mary phone calls in an effort to secure extreme last minute coverage. With no luck, I had to call work and bail. Again. Work is incredibly understanding and my job wasn’t/isn’t in jeopardy (I don’t think). That’s great but it takes a toll.
You might think we’re with the wrong senior care agency. That’d be my reaction too if I were reading this. The thing is that, this is our fourth agency. Yep. The fourth agency in a couple of months. We’ve had some version of this story play out consistently. In the moment I get angry but when I step back, there’s no one party that deserves the blame.
Would I expect people that leave a job to give two weeks notice, therefore allowing the agency to communicate with clients in advance and make the necessary adjustments? Sure. That’d be great but I’ve realized it’s not realistic. In most cases, the caregivers are doing the work part time. The pay in senior care is way less than it should be for what the good ones provide to Dad and our family. The work can be grueling too. I get it. When something better comes along they take it. Without much of a second thought and I can’t really blame them.
Life Goes On
We continue to search for the right senior care agency or combination of agencies to fill the schedule we need. Who knows if we’ll find it but we’ll try. And for now, we’re working on accepting this as a reality–it’s going to happen–so as to soften the blow the next time. Disheartened, we fight on.