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Home care agencies looking for staff, help from Omaha community

WOWT Live at 10
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:23 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s no secret that hospitality and health care jobs have been some of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic. But now, Omaha home care staffing agencies are hoping to fill in some gaps caused by staffing shortages.

“It’s really heartbreaking and against what we’re here for to not be able to take care of somebody when they’re in a time of need,” says Jaye Firmature, owner of FirstLight Home Care in Omaha.

Firmature has been in the business for close eight years, and says she’s never seen the problems and shortages they’ve been facing over the last two years.

HomeLight is a non-medical staffing agency for in-home care. They help families find caregivers who can help anywhere from a few hours a day to 24/7.

“We’re kinda the bridge between if somebody’s in the hospital and [when] they come home, that’s where we step in,” Firmature says.

Two years into the pandemic, she says they’re still seeing staffing shortages and a need for more help. And it’s not her company, it’s all the agencies in town and nationwide, too.

“You can call an agency on one certain day and they’ll be able to take care of you completely, another day they might say there’s a three day wait, week wait, two week wait and it all depend on what kinds of services they need.”

One of the struggler of hiring in-home caregivers, Firmature says, is that many agencies and health care jobs around the city of Omaha are fighting for the same pool of applicants.

“So Omaha’s blessed with the healthcare, blessed with the low unemployment, but it’s really impacting the healthcare continuum which we are a part of.”

Although they’re still able to provide caregivers for the vast majority of people who call, she says it’s those who are most critical who are struggling for support. Those with last-minute needs looking for around-the-clock care.

“It might be somebody coming out of the hospital and the family doesn’t call until maybe the day before, it could be at an assisted living community where someone has taken a turn and they need immediate care right away before they can get transferred somewhere,” she says.

“Veterans, disabled people, senior citizens. . . that’s the face of the in-home care shortages, it’s a crisis and people need services right away, the family needs help,” she says. “To say no to them. . . the last time I had to do that, the woman was crying on the phone, she didn’t know what she was going to do,. I got on the phone and started calling other homecare agencies because we couldn’t fill that 24/7 need right then.”

Firmature says she knows the Omaha community is a giving one, and hopes that people can give time to help vulnerable community members.

“If there are retirees, empty nesters, stay at home parents, somebody who really wants a job of meaningful service as a part time job. . . if they’ve got that volunteer heart, I am suggested to them, hoping, that they will consider applying for caregiver jobs so that we can take care of the people that we need to, so they can be a blessing and get paid for it.”

“In any case, I just don’t want to break any hearts anymore by saying no to them,” Firmature says. “I want to say yes when they call, and we need that help to make that happen.”

For those interested in giving their time and support, you can visit the FirstLight Home Care website here.

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