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Most McKnight’s Home Care Daily readers agree COVID-19 has negatively affected their businesses. And hiring challenges continue to be providers’ biggest pandemic-related concern.

These are the findings from a survey of readers of the daily e-newsletter conducted on May 4-13. The survey probed readers’ interests and information-delivery preferences. A total of 76 people, who represented the various segments of home care — personalized care, home health and hospice/palliative care — and other long-term care services, responded. The most common titles were administrators/assistant administrators/executive directors. As a survey incentive, McKnight’s gave away five $50 gift cards.

A total of 33 people said the pandemic has made things a little worse, while 26 people said it has made things far worse. Thirteen people said the pandemic has made things better; four people said it has had no effect.

When asked to select pandemic-related concerns, 55 said hiring challenges; 39 said vaccine hesitancy among staff. Next was the financial toll on readers’ businesses (37), while 23 cited adequate client base as a continuing concern.

Loss of client base actually topped the list of financial issues providers are still grappling with from the pandemic (39), the survey found. The second biggest financial issue was costs of personal protective equipment, testing, etc. (35). Third was the financial hit due to workers taking unemployment (27), and fourth was loans from the government coming due (10). Nine people reported they had no financial issues from the pandemic.

The home care industry continues to try to battle an ongoing staffing shortage, which was problematic even before the pandemic. The two large home care associations, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and the Home Care Association of America said they planned to work together to find solutions. Meanwhile, last month, President Biden ordered the Department of Labor to refuse enhanced jobless benefits to the unemployed if they turn down suitable job offers.

Despite the pandemic’s harsh toll, resilience abounds. Nearly 90% of survey respondents, or 68 people, said they are optimistic about the year ahead. The rest said they are not.

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