Hospice directors on average saw their compensation bumped up close to 2.3% during the past year, with slightly smaller increases for nurses, aides and non-exempt employees, according to a new report published by the Hospital & Health Care Compensation Services in collaboration with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).
Directors of hospice earned an average $108,319 in 2019 compared to $105,893 in 2018.
The report did not include hospice providers that operate multiple locations or earn revenues that exceed $25 million. Researchers compiled and analyzed data from 641 hospices gathered through a questionnaire. Salaries and hourly rates cited in the report represent base pay and do not include bonuses or other benefits.
“Hospital-based directors of hospice received the highest pay of $119,743, followed by [visiting nurse services/visiting nurse associations] of $115,870, while for-profit hospice directors received $108,891,” the report indicated. “In state reporting, hospice directors in Alabama received the lowest pay of $93,225 and California ranked the highest in pay at $137,381.”
Competitive compensation can help hospice providers recruit and retain staff as ongoing workforce shortages in the hospice space are expected to worsen.
The number of hospice and palliative care physicians and members of other disciplines will drop precipitously during the next two decades, largely due to retirements and staff leaving the field due to burnout, recent research has found. Among U.S. physicians, 40% are 56 or older and incoming palliative care and hospice specialists will not be enough to replenish the ranks. By 2045, only one physician will be available for every 808 patients, according to the same study.
Florida may see the worst of the workforce shortage, which will affect workers from every discipline in the hospice field. Currently, the state has a grade of “C” in the Center to Advance Palliative Care’s state-by-state rankings of access to palliative care. While certainly not a “failing grade,” the rising senior population will create sizable new demand for hospice and palliative care.
Agencies surveyed for the salary report included both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, such as hospital-based hospices, visiting nurse associations or services, freestanding hospices, and hospices affiliated with a home health agency, employing a total 33,392 people.
In comparison to the home health care sector, hospice salaries lagged behind home health for c-suite executives and organization leaders, but were slightly higher for back-office staff.
Home health care CEOs and executive directors earned an average $219,605 compared to $194,220 for hospice.
Hospice staff compensation was higher than home health for case managers, human resources staff, clinical supervisors, communications and marketing staff, intake coordinators, and other front-line positions.
Compensation for clinical staff was higher in the home health care space, by slim margins. For example, hospice nurse practitioners were paid an average $51,700 compared to $52,170 for home health. Pay for registered nurses was slightly higher in the hospice space than for home health care.