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New PHI Initiative Aims to Transform Home Care Jobs in Wisconsin

October 6, 2018

NEW YORK — PHI formally launched a new initiative in Wisconsin to improve home care delivery by transforming the quality of home care jobs throughout the state.

PHI—a national research and consulting organization widely considered the leading expert on the direct care workforce—will work with two leading home care providers in Wisconsin to implement this initiative.

The provider organizations partnering with PHI include: Community Living Alliance (Madison, WI) and Lori Knapp Companies (Prairie du Chien, WI).

“Wisconsin is facing what many other states are facing–a surge in the number of older residents without a sufficient or stable workforce to support them,” said Jodi M. Sturgeon, president at PHI. “We are thrilled to collaborate with two renowned home care providers to begin solving this growing challenge.”

A key aspect of this initiative will be to “elevate the role of the aide” in Wisconsin’s home care system—training and supporting them to have more expansive roles in this sector. Supporting home care workers also benefits the client by promoting quality of care, among other benefits.

PHI will work with Community Living Alliance and Lori Knapp Companies over the next two years through a variety of strategies, including: creating advanced roles for home care aides; developing entry-level training programs and curricula; providing coaching supervision training for managers; and tailoring field-proven recruitment and retention strategies.

PHI selected these providers for this initiative because they are respected in their communities and across Wisconsin, they have the capacity to take on this initiative, and they embody the types of issues shaping home care delivery statewide.

“Developing a large-scale, sustainable solution to the many challenges facing home care providers requires organizations that are willing to commit their talent and resources, and it requires an investment from all parts of those organizations,” said Susan R. Misiorski, vice president of workforce innovations at PHI. “Community Living Alliance and Lori Knapp Companies are the perfect fit.”

The number of people age 65 and older in Wisconsin is expected to grow from 902,000 in 2015 to 1.5 million in 2040, but a 2017 study from PHI showed that the state’s workforce might not meet this demand. Wisconsin will need 20,000 more home care workers by 2024–and many more in the decades that follow.

Despite its growing importance—and the exceptional leadership of many “high road” employers in the field, including those participating in this initiative—the home care job at the national level has long been undervalued, as evidenced by low wages, and minimal training or advancement opportunities, among other factors.

Moreover, the poor quality of home care jobs can lead to high turnover in this sector, which hovers around 60 percent nationally, making it difficult for many providers to meet growing demand.

These problems are most profound in rural areas where health-related resources are often thinner—and clients and workers are geographically dispersed across large areas.

“While the primary focus of this is initiative is Wisconsin, it will also provide lessons for states around the country who are also struggling with home care challenges in their rural counties,” said Misiorski, who’s leading a similar project in Minnesota.

Reactions from Wisconsin Providers

“Community Living Alliance has deep roots in our local Wisconsin community going back nearly thirty years. We are committed to providing quality support to people with disabilities of all ages and know that quality support is directly related to finding and retaining the most qualified and caring people to work with our clients. We are pleased to be working with PHI on this initiative. Our team looks forward to the training and collaboration ahead as we continue to focus on recruiting, retaining and valuing the caregivers who support our clients every day.” ~ Theresa M. Fishler, Director of Program Operations, Community Living Alliance

“Lori Knapp Companies is dedicated to providing quality caregiving in Wisconsin, recognizing that our staff is the backbone to success. Partnering with PHI to improve services in our area will greatly benefit the children, adults, and seniors we serve. It will also improve the staff’s feeling of worth and their overall impression on how vital their job is to the people in our communities. PHI has brought creativity and awareness to areas we can improve on relating to recruitment, retention, leadership, and quality of employment and services. Working with PHI has inspired us to re-evaluate and refocus on ways we can retain high quality staff and provide the best care possible to those we support.” ~ Caitlin Phillips, Human Resources Director, and Damon Frei, Corporate Program Director, Lori Knapp Companies

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