KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One Knoxville organization is trying to get by and pleading for more workers amid a nationwide shortage of caregivers.

Those at senior living facilities and in-home care organizations say, since the pandemic they’ve seen a decrease in people wanting to help. According to the American Health Care Associations, 98% of nursing homes across the country are experiencing difficulty hiring staff and 87% are facing a staffing shortage.

Seniors Helping Seniors is a non-medical in-home care agency that provides services to elderly adults who are still living at home. They also help families find senior living options if need be, but the owner of the company, Ray Bales, said their job is getting more difficult with the lack of staff.

“Prior to the pandemic, I was running about 77 to 82 caregivers on staff. Now, we’re only at somewhere around 50,’ said Bales.

The pandemic made people wary about having strangers in their homes, and many who were working as caregivers were forced to find different jobs.

Bales said his company is currently looking for new hires.

“We’re having a hard time with people coming back to work and in this industry, we want people who want to help.”

Renee Sunday is a caregiver with Seniors Helping Seniors. She said the job isn’t easy, but she gets fulfillment from helping others.

“I love it. It’s a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s hard. There are times when you have a client who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s,” said Sunday.

Recently the job has become even harder for her and her clients due to the caregiver shortage.

“It affects me in that I have to work more hours than I actually originally intended to do,” said Sunday. “From the client’s perspective, it’s difficult because, especially if they have dementia, they need someone who’s consistent.”

Bales stated that his company has started offering 401k and other benefits just to get people in the door,

“We need the help and there’s a lot of seniors out there that really need help and honestly deserve it.”

The caregiver shortage has started a domino effect. Bales said when they lose employees, the number of clients they can help decreases, which means they have to raise their rates to make up for the loss. In addition, because most insurance companies don’t pay for in-home care, a lot of elderly adults are at risk because they can’t afford the rise in prices.

Seniors Helping Seniors as well as several other caretaker companies are hiring. If you would like to apply for Seniors Helping Seniors, click here.