Salaries for hospice directors rise in 1998

The average salary for hospice directors in 1998 was $56,035 — up 4.32%, compared to the previous year’s average of $53,713, according to the 1998-99 Hospice Salary and Benefits Report.

The report, which is published by the Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Service and the Hospice Association of America, shows that director’s salaries have been increasing steadily for the past four years. Since 1995, directors’ average salaries have increased 13.8% from $48,309.

For the first time, researchers noticed that hospice director salaries increased at a higher rate than their home care counterparts. Home care provider salaries increased 4%, according to the survey.

"In discussion with providers we found that because home [care] has had some terrific problems, some are getting out of home care and going into hospice," says Rosanne Cioffe, director of reports for Hospital Healthcare Compensation Service. "Owners are leaving home care and going to hospice and taking the salaries with them."

Wages for nurses and nursing aides were competitive, compared to similar jobs in other health care settings. The average hourly rate a hospice RN in 1998 was $17.75, while LPNs earned an average of $12.70. Compared to their nursing home colleagues, hospice nurses, on average, earned 87 cents more per hour. On the other hand, aides in hospices earned an average of 18 cents less per hour.

The median home care nurse’s hourly rate was 49 cents per hour more than hospice a nurse, and home care nursing aides had an average hourly rate that was 30 cents higher than hospice nursing aides. Hospice nurses earned and average of $17.75 per hour while home care nurses made an average of $18.24.

Compared to the previous year, the current difference represents a small step to closing the gap. Last year, hospice nurses earned an average of 55 cents per hour less than home care nurses. In 1997-98, the average hospice nurse’s hourly rate was $17.30 while the average home care hourly rate was $17.85.

The competitive salaries and wages help contribute to the stability of many hospices. As a whole, the hospice industry reported turnover rates lower than the home health sector. The positions with the highest turnover in hospices were nursing aides. The report said one quarter, 25.5% of nursing aides left their position in 1998. The lowest turnover rate was seen in respiratory therapists, which had a turnover rate of 14%.