In-home senior care agencies in New Hampshire are struggling to acquire enough staffing to meet the needs of their communities.

The owner and operator of Visiting Angels in the Upper Valley, Garrick Hoadley, said the staffing shortage was worse during the winter because potential workers were afraid of contracting COVID-19. He still doesn’t have enough workers, although he’s gotten more applicants recently.

“We’re always looking for more. If I had 10 more caregivers, I could find 10 more caregivers worth of work for them,” he said. His elderly clients have noticed the shortage. “They may be asking for a large number of hours a week. And we can say, ‘We will work towards that. Let me tell you what we can provide this week,’ ” Hoadley said.

Hoadley said staffing shortages and high turnover are endemic to the industry, but greater respect for caregiving as a valuable career — and better compensation — would help address this issue. Hoadley pays his caregivers $14 an hour for homemaker services, $15 for personal care services including bathing, and $17 for overnight and weekend work. Home Instead, a home health care service based in Manchester, pays between $14 and $16.50, depending on what services the caregiver provides.

Home Instead is facing similar staffing problems. Kaitlin Cawley, a home care consultant with the company, said some clients need to start with less service than they may need. Later, Home Instead can provide more care as they add staff. “It’s a lot of patience for sure on the client’s end, but they’ve all been wonderful and very understanding,” she said.

Cawley said there are factors other than COVID-19 that are compounding the issue, like New Hampshire’s aging population: “We’re trying to balance needing caregivers as fast as older adults are needing help.” And COVID-19 has introduced some Granite Staters to the possibility of home care as an option, further increasing the need for caregivers.

“COVID definitely awakened some people’s eyes who may not have thought of home care for their loved ones. It definitely increased the amount of calls of people looking for services,” said Molly Wyeth, an employee relations coordinator with Home Instead.

As a result, home senior care businesses across the state aren’t expecting the demand for their services to decrease anytime soon.

This article is being shared by a partner in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.