Institute Talk: A Conversation with Home Care Executive Kevin Smith on Service in the Age of COVID-19

Home care agencies and their employees are performing critical services that help clients continue to live independently, work that has become even more challenging and dangerous in the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Smith is the chief executive of Best of Care, an agency headquartered in Quincy, Mass., that serves clients in greater Boston and many other areas of Massachusetts. Smith is also president of the Home Care Aide Council, Inc., a trade association of 70 agencies providing home care services in Massachusetts.

Gerontology Institute Director Len Fishman spoke with Smith on March 23 about home health agencies and their workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The following transcript was edited for length and clarity.

Len Fishman: Tell us briefly who your agency serves.



Kevin Smith: We are serving about 1,500 people. They are typically over age 60 and actually skew toward their 80s. It’s fair to say many depend on the care of our aides to remain independent and out of facility-based care. Continue reading

5 Strategies to Address the Home Care Workforce Challenge

Here’s the good news from home health agencies in Massachusetts: They manage to find an average of 18 new hires to join the care workforce every three months, according to a recent  report by the Home Care Aide Council.

Here’s the bad news: The same agencies lose an average of 15 home care aides over those three months.

That revolving door puts enormous pressure on agencies to find enough qualified new people to continue serving clients and meet growing demand, according to the report authored by Hayley Gleason, assistant director at the council and a gerontology PhD candidate at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

The report found a quarterly staff turnover rate of 16 percent among home care agencies. Nearly 90 percent of agencies said finding enough qualified home care aides was their top workforce challenge. The report identified low pay, lack of benefits, scheduling and training concerns to be among the top issues leading to staff turnover. Continue reading