Category: Blog (Page 2 of 11)

Understanding Virtual PBX for Your Business

More and more companies are embracing the potential of VoIP technology to transform their office communications. Gone are the days of relying on old phone lines and complex networks that require switchboards to get to the intended recipient. Voice over Internet Protocol integrate your office communications in a streamlined way for maximum efficiency.

The next step in this evolution is a virtual PBX system, or private branch exchange. This is a private telephone network for your organization that allows you to make calls within your organization without having to field outside interruptions. A virtual PBX system is hosted on a digital network, so there is no need for costly cellular data or maintenance on a physical network. Here’s everything you need to know about this innovative communications solution.

What is a Virtual PBX?

Companies have been using PBX systems for decades, initially as a closed landline network that served large office buildings. Remember calling a business and being told to enter the extension you were trying to reach? This served its purpose for the time, but it had limitations, like having to worry about busy signals and full mailboxes.

When they were replaced by closed cellular networks, they became easier for users to navigate, but costlier for the businesses to maintain. Most businesses run on the cloud now, and virtual PBX systems are no exception. Many integrate the entire office communications network on the same server, and are controlled by software that allows people to communicate on multiple platforms. Hosted VoIP systems are ideal for large companies that expect to be in frequent communication inside and outside of the office, and many third-party companies provide this service to interested tech companies.

Benefits of Virtual PBX

Less Hardware

One of the biggest benefits of virtual PBX systems is that there is much less maintenance and technology to keep track of. A closed traditional phone network has many potential points of failure, from a local outage at the phone plant to a stray hamster chewing through some wires. Not only can it be costly to repair, but it may also take time to find the source of the glitch. With no dedicated hardware or infrastructure needed for a cloud-based system, you can rely on someone else for tech support.

Easy to Set Up

Unlike other phone systems, there should be little to no setup needed in the office, particularly if you’re an established business with a dedicated internet network. You should be able to take advantage of your established cloud-based computing and task management software and integrate them into a new communications system. This will not only require fewer people working in your office, but it should be up in a short time with the help of the right provider.

Lower Cost

If you’re looking to save money on your communications setup, virtual PBX might be the right move. For one thing, you won’t be paying a team of workers to set up a physical phone line through your building, and you won’t be installing a whole new computer system. You’ll likely also save money in the long run if you get a system that doesn’t charge per message like many cellular systems do. For a busy company, internal communications can total hundreds or thousands of messages a day—and those costs can add up quickly if you are not on unlimited plans.

Unified Communications

Your VoIP system is just one part of how a virtual PBX system can help you. These systems can integrate your entire communication network under one umbrella, connecting your phone with your email systems, instant messaging, and even your fax machine. It provides voice and video chatting and can integrate advanced features like call recording and automatic assistants to screen calls before they get to a person.

Scalability

If your company rapidly expands, your phone network might become overwhelmed, causing missed messages and long wait times for frustrated customers. Virtual PBX systems aren’t confined by physical space and can expand when needed. Your cloud services provider will offer packages for companies of different sizes, and it’s easy to upgrade when needed.

Upgrade Your Communications Today

Virtual PBX systems are the wave of the future, especially for companies with a growing need for fast in-network communications. The time is right to upgrade your old network and make communicating with your team more accessible than ever. Why not take the leap today?

Top Car Technologies Coming In The Next 10 Years

Cars aren’t the same as they were ten years ago, and they certainly won’t be the same as they are today ten years from now. New technologies will make vehicles better—perhaps even so much so that even the best lemon law attorney won’t have much of anything to do! Read on, and discover how automobiles might be changing over the course of the next decade.

Cooled Seats

We’ve all ridden in or heard about cars with heated seating before, but what if the opposite were possible as well? It could be true with the advent of air-conditioned car seats, a technology whose inclusion has eluded automakers up until recently.

With the inclusion of a breathable fabric on the car seats, air can now circulate and cool the occupant of said seat. The flow of air can be aided by a system of fans positioned underneath each seat, which also helps to vent air away from the occupant as well.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication

You might have also heard this term before in its abbreviated form—V2V Comms. This technology is poised, according to the NHTSA, to allow cars on the road to “wirelessly exchange information about the speed and position of surrounding vehicles shows great promise in helping to avoid crashes, ease traffic congestion, and improve the environment.”

Down the road, bicycles and pedestrians might even make use of this technology, allowing motorists to detect them more easily and avoid deadly accidents.

Front-View Cameras

We already have rear-view cameras, why not stick some in the front too? Now, this might seem like a superfluous addition at first, but think about the extra utility that most drivers will be able to get out of one of these. With a 180-degree field of view, motorists will be able to detect pretty much everything in their surroundings. If nothing else, that should make it much easier to avoid accidents and feel more confident while you’re out and about.

Smart Headlights

Imagine headlights that adjust light levels on their own? Such is the promise of so-called “smart headlights.” If implemented on a wide scale, these could automatically detect oncoming traffic and then adjust brightness to avoid blinding other drivers while still allowing you to see the road. Once again, the potential to reduce accidents makes this attractive technology.

AR Dashboards

You might actually find the first iterations of this technology in use on some high-end luxury vehicles. Augmented Reality (AR) dashboards project a heads-up visual display over the windshield of the vehicle that can keep the driver informed about their speed, heading, and other important details. More advanced functionality could even allow for the controlling of onboard entertainment systems, maps, communications, etc.

Vehicle Autonomy

Perhaps the crown jewel of vehicle enhancements, the dream for many automakers now is to create a fully autonomous vehicle and get it out on the road. We’ve already seen some manufacturers push toward Level 3 autonomous vehicles, and with the right legal frameworks in place, it’s only a matter of time until those Level 4 and 5 vehicles finally hit the road.

Technology Trends Shaping The CNC Machining Industry

CNC machining is a modern manufacturing mainstay. The process, which traces its roots back to the first numerical control machines of the 1940s, has only risen in popularity since its inception, and over the coming years, there are a number of new developments on the horizon. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of those new trends, technologies, and innovations that will be shaping the CNC machining industry for the foreseeable future.

Cost Savings Through Mechanical Enhancements

There are a number of improvements coming to CNC machining that could help control costs. Take, for example, the increasing number of axes included on modern CNC machines. 

In the past, 3-axis machines were the standard, which allowed  the bed to move linearly along two axes while the spindle translates up and down along the third axis. 

Now, with the introduction of 5 and 6-axis machines, whole new levels of maneuverability are possible, which means that the components produced by CNC machines can be even more intricate and precise. And it’s not just the complexity that’s improved—having more axes helps to reduce the production times on jobs, which, in turn, can help cut down on costs. 

More Robotics Means More Versatility

The use of robots isn’t exactly new to CNC machining. Recent innovations, however, are going to transform the nature of the industry and help improve efficiency. A prime example is a creation known as “collaborative robots,” or “cobots.” These robots are designed to work with human operators and augment their productivity. 

Cobots can be programmed and trained, and from there will aid their human coworkers and help improve the versatility of the organization employing them.

Better Training Will Create A Better Industry

As tools and technology change, so too must the skills of workers throughout the industry. Manufacturers realize this, and are increasingly investing in solutions that can better train employees to do their jobs such as the citb test booking. Software integration in CNC machining equipment, for instance, can help to guide operators through various processes until they become second nature. 

These better-trained workers will commit fewer errors and work at quicker rates, so even if the startup costs of improved training are substantial, the long-term savings of both time and money for the manufacturer make the investment well worth it.

The Rise Of Manufacturing As A Service

Manufacturing as a service (MaaS) makes use of the outsourcing of specific tasks and responsibilities to another party, which, implemented properly, can generate a whole host of positive effects. Companies utilising MaaS are more agile, more productive, and are able to drive down costs through a reduction in labor expenses. 

With so many associated benefits, it’s likely that we’ll see an increase in the number of companies making use of MaaS. Especially in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, where organizations are looking to expand their networks, mitigate supply chain breakdowns, and find solutions for precision manufacturing. Fictiv is a digital manufacturing ecosystem that rapidly delivers custom parts on-demand, to help companies accelerate new product introduction.

Continued Expansion Of The Industrial Internet Of Things

Manufacturers have been able to use the Industrial Internet Of Things (IIoT) to network some of their machines, send/receive data, and remotely monitor/manage operations. This ability for machines to communicate without a human operator can help make manufacturing processes safer and faster, while simultaneously improving quality.

There will likely be a greater adoption of these systems in the coming years, combined with the integration of process automation and other methods to improve efficiency and cut waste.

How Vintage Furniture Is The New Design Trend

In 2020, people spent more time at home than they had spent in any other period in recent history. Spending so much time at home made people more aware of their household furnishings and more eager to transform them so that they fit their vision of where they wanted to live and work. With remote and hybrid models of work likely to be an important part of our lives for the foreseeable future, people will continue to invest in their households at higher levels than in past years. One area where people have invested heavily is in furniture. According to a new report, in 2020, spending on furniture and appliances rose from $373 billion to $405 billion year-over-year. The shift to working from home and shopping online drove growth in ecommerce,  and one of the fastest growing segments in ecommerce was the vintage and consignment market. Vintage furniture became and has remained the most important design trend of our times. 

Chairish, the vintage furniture ecommerce platform, enjoyed a 60% growth in sales. 1stDibs, an ecommerce company that sells luxury items such as furniture, earned a 23% increase in its revenue. Kaiyo, a platform for buying and selling used furniture, has experienced triple-digit growth, month-over-month.

An obvious answer is that second-hand furniture is affordable, and in a time of economic distress, people would shift their purchases towards cheaper alternatives to goods that they need. However, collectible and heritage items performed strongly during that period too. For instance, 1stDIbs sold out its stock of Ray and Chalres Eames’ Lounge Chair, the Ultrafragola mirror and Mario Bellini’s Camaleonda Sofa. Users of the Chairish platform have turned a profit on items such as Michel Ducaroy’s Toga sofa. According to its annual report, Kaiyo sold the DDC On the Rocks sofa at a staggering $18,346 price. This really shows the strength of the collectibles and heritage segment. 

Experts predict that the vintage and second hand furniture market will be even stronger in the coming years. According to Statista, the furniture resale market will grow 3.5 times faster than traditional retail, by 2025, appreciating by 54% between 2021 and 2025. 

An important reason for the growth in the sector is the change in attitudes toward secondhand goods. This change in attitude has come at a time when platforms such as Depop, TheRealReal, and ands, have allowed millenials and Gen Z shoppers to buy used clothes. The change in attitudes extended to furniture. According to Chairish, 31% of millenials and Gen Z shoppers had a greater demand for second hand, vintage or antique furniture over the last year. 
ANother factor is that mass-produced goods have started to lose their sheen. People feel increasingly disconnected from modern consumerist society and vintage furniture arouses more nostalgic emotions, and feels less embedded in consumerism. Modern designs often seem to go out of style as quickly as they get into style, whereas vintage furniture has a more enduring appeal. Younger consumers are looking for goods that express their individuality, rather than embed them in mass-consumerism, and this makes vintage furniture, and classic designs such as leather recliners Made in USA, so appealing.

What is Data Migration, and How You Can Use It

Data migration is a one-time operation that involves preparing, extracting, and, if necessary, changing internal data from one storage device to another.

This may sound similar to data duplication or integration, but the two processes are not the same. Data replication is the process of transferring data from one platform to another on a regular basis, whereas data integration is the process of combining data from several sources in a data storage destination or analysis tool.

Data migration is needed for a variety of projects, from upgrading a server to transferring to a new data center, and from launching a new app to integrating the capabilities of a recently acquired company. Moving information to a new system, location, or design should ideally be done with minimal human manipulation of data or re-creation and no data loss.

You can find a project data migration tool in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Organizations can employ on-premises or cloud-based technologies or develop their own data migration programs. Self-scripted data transfer is a do-it-yourself in-house option that works well for small tasks but not for larger enterprises. Since all of the data is stored in one location, on-premises tools perform well. For enterprises migrating data to a cloud-based destination, cloud-based data migration technologies may be a preferable option.

IT professionals can create software to move data, but it’s a laborious and time-consuming operation. Manual integration chores and re-implementation of algorithms are occasionally the outcomes of hand-coding massive data integrations.

It is preferable to use data migrating software. Although the software takes care of the heavy work, data engineers must still understand what data they are migrating, how much data will be transferred, and the variations between the source and destination platforms and schemas. They must plan the migration, execute the relocation, test the results, and address any difficulties that arise.

How do you choose the best data migrating tool?

The most critical component of any data migration endeavor is proper planning, which should encompass data sources and destination, security, and economic considerations. The choice of a data migration technology is an important part of the planning, and it should be founded on the use case & business objectives of the organization.

Sources and destinations of data

A significant aspect is the number and type of data sources and destinations. Self-scripting could be able to handle any source or destination, but it isn’t scalable. It might work for minor projects, but developing data extraction routines for hundreds of sources is probably not a good idea.

The supported sources and destinations for on-premises tools may vary based on the operating platform on which your tool operates.

Most data migration systems, both on-premises and in the cloud, can handle a wide range of data sources and destinations. Cloud-based SaaS solutions have no OS restrictions, and providers automatically upgrade them to support the new releases of sources and destinations.

Reliability

Because of their highly redundant structures, cloud-based data migration systems have near to 100 percent uptime. On-premises equipment would struggle to reach that level of dependability.

Scalability and performance

Cloud-based migration technologies are extremely effective. Cloud computing and storage can scale to meet the needs of dynamic data movement. Because the equipment on which they run is constrained, on-premises tools cannot autonomously scale up and down as needed.

How To Compete In The Leather Upholstery Market

Demand for leather furniture has been steadily growing for many years. Expects estimate that the market will grow at a rate of 3.9% compounded over the 2020 to 2027 period. More optimistic reports suggest that the industry will grow at a rate of 5.9% compounded over the 2021 to 2028 period, achieving a value of some $626 billion by 2028. Millenials and the emerging cohort of Gen Z buyers, have developed an affinity for leather furniture, and the quality of the product has many things in its favour. Leather is one of the most durable materials out there, and that, coupled with its texture and looks, means that when it comes to conserving value, there is no better product out there on the market. A key driver of growth is that over the forecast period, consumers are expected to enjoy rising disposable income, allowing them to take advantage of the benefits of owning leather furniture. With growth predicted to continue for the next few years, it is no surprise that many entrepreneurs have entered the market to compete for their slice of the market. Increased competition in the market is not the only problem that manufacturers face. We are living in an age of supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and a consumer that is more price conscious than ever. Competing in this industry is one of the big questions facing upholsters and a question that I will try to answer in this article. 

Manufacturers will have to embrace a new way of doing business. A decade ago, venture capitalist Marc Andressedn declared that, “software is eating the world”, and since then, his declaration has proved prophetic, with industry after industry increasingly mediated by software. The leather furniture industry is not outside of this movement. Manufacturers have to realise that they have to embrace the use of digital technology to generate efficiencies, improve the customer experience, unearth insights to improve their product quality, and ultimately, to earn higher economic profits. With 30% of consumers who purchase leather furniture being between 25 and 34 years of age, there is certainly a massive opportunity to capture consumers who will be on the market for decades to come.

Process optimization and automation are two of the most powerful ways that manufacturers can use to improve their profitability. For instance, the Lectra Versalis 4.0-ready digital cutting solutions enables manufacturers to improve their competitiveness through four improvements:

  • Increased product quality
  • Higher yield, reducing costs and optimising pricing
  • Greater productivity at a time of labor shortages and where time-to-market has to be slashed
  • More efficient processes thanks to data leveraging

Manufacturers need to leverage such solutions, as well as work with innovators who can provide them with adequate support and guidance to deliver the efficiencies that technology promises. The result of an approach that is open to innovation can be seen in products such as the Bradington Young recliner, which is made in the most efficient way possible, while delivering value to the customer.

Why Dentistry Lacks In Quality Management

Most people do not realise this, but your oral health is a window to your overall health.According to the Institute of Medicine of the national Academies, which in 2011 published the definitive report on the subject, a close oral exam can detect signs of health problems such as systemic diseases, nutritional deficiencies, microbial infections, injuries, immune disorders and even some cancers. Periodontal disease is associated with respiratory disease, pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. The link between the two is why a person’s oral health care will be increasingly integrated into their overall health care. As this happens, dentistry will have to embrace standardized quality and outcome measures, areas which the industry has been relatively lacking compared to the rest of the economy. The reasons wny dentistry has been lacking are varied and the subject of this article.

Dentists Don’t Capture a Lot of Information

At present, dentists generally operate according to a fee-for-service structure in which relatively little data is collected about patient outcomes. This means that the typical dentist does not have enough data to be able to make the necessary insightful inferences to improve quality outcomes. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, has spoken about the importance of measurement to enhanced performance. Measuring stuff allows us to see if the changes we make actually work. Measurement provides the necessary feedback to enable fertile innovation. Without measurement, innovation is doomed to be erratic and rare. It’s for this reason that the fee-for-service model proves to be an impediment. Dentists simply are not measuring enough stuff and so, quality outcomes are reduced and standards of care are not as high as they could be. In order for the coming integration with overall healthcare to work, dentists will have to adopt more evidence-based methods, methods teeming in the kind of measurements that dentists don’t as-yet typically collect.

Dentists do not have broadly accepted definitions and ways of quantifying quality. The first reason for this is that diagnostic codes are not widely used. So, we do not have a sense of the rationale behind why dentists make the decision they make and arrive at the diagnosis they do. So, it is impossible to know, measure and understand if treatments are truly effective.

Secondly, dentists are trained on the technical aspects of their job. Yet, there is a difference between being good at the mechanical side of the job and making the right decisions for the long-term care of the patient. Yet, dentists do not evaluate long-term effects of their care on their patients.

Reimbursement is another issue. Incentives are a powerful force in shaping human behaviour. Quality metrics were institutionalised by the federal government as part of the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Dentistry did not go through a similar process and so reimbursement is not tied to quality metrics. Your dentist is usually well trained and very good at their job. But typically dental practices are small affairs, they have not undergone the scaling and consolidation that other industries have. As dental practices consolidate, they are increasingly embracing quality metrics to drive better patient outcomes.

The 7 Most Important Ecommerce Metrics to Track

Online stores thrive due to conversion rates, average order value, traffic, and cart abandonment rate. Therefore, it is impossible to take your business to the heights of success without tracking your ecommerce metrics. They help you keep track of your business strategies and assist you in making well-informed business decisions.

As ecommerce sales create more than 20% of retail sales, you need to track all the essential ecommerce metrics that contribute to the success of your business.

So, you should check up on these most crucial ecommerce metrics and learn how to track them because changes in any of these metrics can instantly alert you to the state of your business strategies.

Conversion Rate

As a business owner, you must know the importance of conversion rates. Your business can’t survive ecommerce challenges without loyal customers. Therefore, you need to know the ups and downs of your business conversion rate. You can calculate the conversion rate using this formula:

CR = (Total number of customers / Total Unique Visitors) * 100

This value will inform you how many visitors turn into buyers. Unfortunately, many businesses do not have a high conversion rate even after attracting tons of traffic. However, by keeping a regular eye on your conversion rate, you can plan how to compel your website traffic to buy your product.

Average Order Value (AOV)

The average order value of your website determines how much your customers are willing to pay for your products. Having high-priced products may be why you are generating high traffic but not detecting an increase in conversion rates. So, you must check the average order value of your website to keep your prices in the customer price range. To calculate AOV:

AOV = Total Revenue / Total Number of Orders

Ensure that you only calculate the total revenue of the orders placed in one period.

Website Traffic

Every sale metric of your business is connected with website traffic. You need high website traffic to up your conversion rates. So, it is no rocket science that you should know how many people your business attracts daily. Calculate the website traffic with this formula:

WT = (Previous Users / New Users) * 100

You can change your business strategy if you are not maintaining your previous website traffic.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer Lifetime Value offers you a broader image of your sales. You can’t determine the success of your business based on one month’s sale only. You must know how much revenue a customer will provide your company over the years. That is why you must calculate CLV to check the relationship between your customers and your company. CLV is calculated as:

CLV = (Average Order Value * Average Purchase Frequency Rate) * Average Customer          Lifespan

Customer Retention Rate (CRR)

One of the essential metrics that shows the success of your business is customer stability. If you are only attracting new customers but unable to keep them for long periods, it shows an issue. You can learn how many customers you are losing by calculating the customer retention rate (CRR). The formula for calculating CRR is:

CRR = [(New Customers in Month – Existing Customers at The End of The Month) / Total     Customers at The Start of The Month] * 100

If you are rapidly losing customers, check what is compelling your happy customers to leave your platform.

Average Profit Margin

The average profit margin is the value you earn after deducting supply costs. Your average profit margin should exceed the amount of money you are using to provide your service. Otherwise, your business is going through a significant loss which can eventually shut down your business for good. So, calculate your average profit margin to check if you are any profits on the sale with this formula:

Profit margin = [(Selling price – Cost of goods) / Selling price] * 100

Remember, selling a high number of products doesn’t ensure that you are creating high profits.

Cart Abandonment Rate

More than half of your customers will abandon their carts without completing the order process. For any business, this is a pretty scary scenario. Therefore, to learn if your customers are abandoning their potential purchases or not, you need to find out the cart abandonment rate. Calculate your cart abandonment rate with this formula:

CAR = [(Completed Purchases / Created Shopping Carts) – 1] * 100

Find out whether your customers are leaving without making a purchase and why, so you can aid your customers in completing their orders.

To Conclude

Regularly checking your ecommerce metrics can ensure the success of your business. You can also use an ecommerce metric regulating service to stay on top of your stats to make highly effective strategies.

What Are the Advantages of Custom-Written Software?

Every business is unique. Your company’s needs are going to be different from the business next door. In some cases, it doesn’t make much sense for everyone to be using a one-size-fits-all software solution.

When choosing software for your business, you’re faced with two choices. You can either pick an off-the-shelf package or have someone build and customize new software for you.

So what are the advantages of custom-written software? In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of custom CRM software and how your business can get a competitive edge with it.

What Is Custom Software?

Basically, custom software is built from the ground up to fit your company’s needs. As the business owner or manager, you define what you need the software to do. Then, the software developer makes it from scratch for you.

The end result is a piece of software that’s entirely bespoke to your business. This means that it does exactly what you want it to do—no annoying workarounds or paying for features you don’t even need—and in turn, makes your business more efficient and profitable.

The Advantages of Custom-Written Software

At first, it might seem like a massive endeavor to build and pay for your own software solutions. But you can’t ignore the rewards that custom-made software can bring you. Here are some reasons your business should get a customized software solution.

It Keeps You Up to Date

Let’s be real here. Some businesses still use software built over a decade ago. Yours could be one of them.

You can’t just settle on something that “does the job just fine” or “works well enough.” What worked five or ten years ago, or even just one year ago, might not be the most efficient way to do things anymore. Out-of-date software can also be difficult to maintain.

By getting new software that’s fully customized, you’re marching your business into the modern age.

It Simplifies Your Business

Some businesses are forced to “duct-tape” different pieces of software and hardware together to accomplish various tasks. While individually, they may be great tools, it’s easy to see how inefficient this method is.

Custom-made software can solve these issues in one of two ways:

  • Creates an all-in-one solution that eliminates the need to run multiple applications
  • Acts as the connective tissue between the different programs you use 

With customized software in place, you can create more efficient ways of completing tasks. You increase productivity while reducing the number of user errors from juggling different programs.

It Offers a Cost-Effective Solution that Scales

As with any investment, custom CRM software can require some hefty upfront costs. But after that initial investment, well-designed software can save you money in the long run.

Pre-made software might have lower upfront costs, but overtime expenses can add up. Consider these hidden costs from using off-the-shelf products:

  • Renewing licenses
  • Training employees
  • Additional software to cover deficiencies
  • Other maintenance costs

When you use bespoke software that’s tailored to your business’ needs, you can keep your budget under control. 

The software can also be designed with expandability in mind that facilitates your company’s growth. This way, you can future-proof your business and scale it in ways that pre-made applications won’t allow you to do.

Still not convinced you need custom software? Here are 9 reasons why your business needs a custom software solution.

Give Your Business a Competitive Edge

Let’s be real. Your organization needs to keep up with modern trends to stay competitive in today’s world. More and more businesses are turning to customized solutions to stand out from their competitors.

Now it’s your turn. Take the next steps and see how a customized software solution can advance your business. Work with a team of experts who know the software business and how to get customers.

A Massive Shortage of Home Care Workers Threatens the industry

As more and more older adults report a desire to spend their twilight years at home, there has been a boom in home-based care. The trouble is, the home care industry has been plagued by staffing shortages for many years. This makes it difficult for the families of older adults and the older adults themselves, to give older adults what they sorely desire. Often, family members have to become makeshift caregivers, forced to get time off from work, or sometimes even work part-time, use adult day care facilities, or retire early, just so they can give older adults the home care that they need. Getting home care is even harder today, because the risks of having hired help or volunteers in the house often outweigh the benefits. This puts additional pressure on family members to take care of older adults. It’s this crisis that is the subject of a fascinating piece in the New York Times

As the New York Times shows, it can be hard to find help, either through word-of-mouth, local agencies or other means. Often, local agencies will charge fees only to tell you that they don’t have any home caregivers for you. Eventually, some families are forced to place their older adults in facilities, often at incredibly steep rates. The economic consequences of the staffing shortages in home care are massive. 

The homecare industry is made up of a hodgepodge of nonprofit programs, publicly funded care, and for-profit businesses and chains, all of whom operate under federal and state regulations. There is also a gray market that caters to clients who want to avoid regulation and so hire privately.

Vicki Hoaqk, the Home Care Association of America’s executive director, says this is the most frustrating period in her 20-year career in the industry. It has never been so hard to find workers. The association is made up of 4,000 agencies and 500,000 people and yet, even then there is a struggle to help people get the workers they need.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the direct day care workforce shrunk by 342,000 workers in the last year. This includes nursing homes, as well as other home care and residential care staff. This reverses a long-held pattern in which employment rose in each category every year. The reason for the contraction in the labor force is that many workers were laid off, or workers resigned because of Covid-19 related fears or health problems, child care issues, and other issues.

Thankfully, employment in the home care industry rebounded toward the end of last year and is now just 3% off from its pre-pandemic levels. However, this rebound occurs at a time when there has been an explosion in demand for home care workers. Other healthcare categories, such as nursing home occupancy and assisted living, are in decline, whereas home care is on the rise. At present, there are over 800,000 older adults and disabled people, all eligible for Medicaid, and all on state waiting lists to receive home care. Those clients who are paying with private schemes or their own funds are being turned away by agencies. With the nightmare of Covid-19 receding, many people have taken the lesson that congregate care settings are less healthy and safe than home care. Resolving this crisis is one of the great challenges the country faces moving forward.

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