Nursing home staffing levels have not been so low since 1994.
Year-end data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that over the course of the pandemic, nursing homes lost 210,000 jobs. As the hardest hit healthcare sector, nursing homes are still struggling with recruiting and maintaining their workforce.
The data further illuminates the healthcare workforce shortage's impact on the sector. Further analysis of the BLS data by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) found that nursing home workforce levels haven't been so low seen since 1994.
While facilities added an average of 3,700 jobs per month over the last nine months, it's expected that at its current pace, nursing homes won't return to pre-pandemic levels until 2027. A previous AHCA/NCAL estimate anticipated the sector recovering by 2026.
"The data doesn't lie. This is not just an exaggerated call for help, and this labor crisis will not go away on its own or through government enforcement," Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a statement.
"Our nursing homes are struggling to recruit caregivers, and if we do not get meaningful assistance soon, then the consequence will be hundreds of thousands of seniors displaced."
The LTC sector's staffing shortages have forced nursing homes to limit admissions, and hospitals are backlogged with patients ready to be discharged and moved to a facility. In more severe cases, some nursing homes have been forced to close permanently.
While the situation requires immediate support, analysis by AHCA/NCAL suggests long-term investments and programs are needed to help the sector recover. Action from policymakers is needed to alleviate financial challenges as well. Many facilities struggle to cover the cost of care to their residents because of low Medicaid reimbursement rates.
To attract talent, facilities have also begun offering increased wages and bonuses, but with little success. The Biden administration is currently considering implementing a staffing minimum, but without the proper resources it could only worsen the sector's workforce crisis.
“The data doesn't lie. This is not just an exaggerated call for help, and this labor crisis will not go away on its own or through government enforcement.”
Mark Parkinson, president and CEO, AHCA/NCAL
Nursing homes lost 210,000 jobs over the duration of the pandemic.
It's predicted that nursing homes won't return to pre pandemic levels until 2027.
The AHCA/NCAL believes that long-term investments and programs are needed to help the sector recover.