Agency Characteristics Most Valued by Home Care Nurses

Findings of a Nationwide Study

The demand for home health services is expected to rise well into the 21st century as the population ages and the emphasis on community-based care increases. To satisfy future demand, the home care nursing workforce will have to double by 2020. This is a challenging prospect as the country is currently facing a nursing shortage of unprecedented proportions. One promising strategy for recruiting and retaining nurses is the magnet hospital approach, which focuses on creating a professional practice environment for nurses. This strategy has proven to increase hospital-based nurses' job satisfaction and retention as well as patient satisfaction and quality of care. To determine if a similar approach could benefit home care nurses, this mailed survey of 403 home care nurses (response rate 61 percent) asked respondents to list characteristics of home care organizations that they considered most important to their professional practice and satisfaction. Nurses responded with ten important traits including support for education, a knowledgeable and supportive manager and dedication to quality care. These traits, similar to those reported by hospital-based nurses in the magnet hospital studies, reflect many recognized components of a professional practice environment. These results may help home care administrators to build evidence-based strategies that are critical to improving home care nurse retention and meeting future demand.