Companions & Homemakers, a Farmington, CT-based home care agency, has experienced a 20% increase in referrals since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year. That’s representative of a statewide trend and tracks with a drop in the census at nursing homes as the facilities continue to be a focus of health concerns.

Home care has benefited from being an alternative to institutions during the pandemic “as a way to keep people at home, especially those at highest risk for the virus,” Tracy Wodatch, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, told the Hartford Business Journal.

Across the country, the home health industry has seen increases in jobs, which were up by 12,000 jobs in August and 16,000 jobs in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing homes, by contrast, lost 9,000 jobs just in October.

Meanwhile, however, home care aides had the highest turnover rate of all home health positions in 2020, at 36.5% compared with 25.4% in 2019, according to the Home Care Salary & Benefits Report by the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service. This rate is despite a 2.8% increase in the national average base pay for home care aides from August 2019 to July 2020.

To address ongoing workforce challenges, the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home has formed a task force to try to strengthen pre-hire training.