Country Meadows to eliminate hundreds of home-care jobs

Approximately 260 home healthcare jobs across the state are being eliminated as part of a reorganization by Country Meadows Retirement Communities of Hershey.

In a press release Wednesday, the company announced it will conclude services with clients living outside its retirement communities on September 17 in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, and end altogether in South Hills of Pittsburgh as of August 18 due to diminishing staffing resources.

“It’s very disappointing to me that we are unable to sustain the community-based component of Country Meadows At Home,” CEO Michael Leader said. “Restructuring is personally regrettable for me, because we have assisted clients, some of whom have been relatives, neighbors and friends, to continue living in their homes more independently and safely for more than six years.”

Leader said a critical difference between providing care in a retirement community versus an individual’s home is the staff scheduling demands to ensure caregivers are available when and where they are needed, and that client hours are available for caregivers. He said meeting this ratio became a constant challenge.

Across the country, the home-care industry average for caregiver turnover has jumped to 53%—an increase of 30% in just three years, Leader said. At Country Meadows, turnover has been more than twice the rate of the organization’s retirement communities.

“We monitored this trend and anticipated the need by increasing our recruiting efforts, streamlining operations, bolstering training and adjusting co-worker benefit packages. None of these actions had the sustainable impact we expected and required,” Leader said. “The success of home-based services is driven by positive relationships built over time by dedicated, trusted co-workers. Turnover affects client care. Period.”

Country Meadows At Home will continue to offer services to residents of Country Meadows Retirement Communities in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley who desire additional assistance to remain living in their current care level.

“Going forward we will continue to focus our care-giving and administrative resources on residents of Country Meadows Retirement Communities when they desire supplemental assistance while in transition or following surgery or an extended illness,” Leader said.

This service change affects 104 clients in the Pittsburgh area; 66 in Lehigh Valley; 63 in York; and 104 in Harrisburg, Hershey, Mechanicsburg and Lancaster. Country Meadows will continue to provide care for these clients through the respective dates and in the meantime work with clients to find alternative services provided by reputable, licensed home care agencies.

Country Meadows At Home will retain several co-workers to continue to serve clients in the organization’s communities otherwise they may transition into open positions at Country Meadows campuses. Affected co-workers will receive a list of open positions, meet individually with human resources staff members to discuss interests and needs, and may choose to continue to work with Country Meadows. Employees not remaining with Country Meadows will be offered a full severance package. Others may decide to apply to work for another licensed provider of home care in the area. Country Meadows is assisting them in their transition, Leader said.

Full-, part-time and PRN co-workers affected include 43 in the Pittsburgh area; 54 in the Lehigh Valley; 61 in York; 102 in Harrisburg, Hershey, Mechanicsburg and Lancaster; and eight in the organization’s Hershey Home Office.

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