The siren is blaring for New Hampshire’s long-term care crisis

March 28, 2023

If you have ever heard a tornado siren, you know what a frightening sound that is. Given the plight of our state’s nursing homes, such a siren should be sounding in Concord.

Consider: Our state has one of the nation’s five-worst nursing home staffing shortages. There are county facilities with wait lists of over 100 prospective residents that they cannot serve. One informed me that half of its nursing positions are open, or, more granularly, 65 percent of its licensed nursing assistant positions – the frontline caregivers in any nursing home. As a result, one-third of the facility’s beds are effectively offline.

Massachusetts has only one-sixth as many nursing homes experiencing staffing shortages, in part because, by raising Medicaid rates 33 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Massachusetts has done such a great job of importing New Hampshire caregivers.

Here, with a shortage of homegrown licensed staff looking for work, nursing homes are stuck using out-of-state staffing agencies and competing with hospitals and other desperate health care providers in doing so. While such utilization is necessary to serve residents, it’s disruptive to the continuity of care – imagine a stranger at your bedside – and demoralizing to permanent staff who know these agencies, through price-gouging, can pay more. Thus, it becomes possible for a longtime caregiver to switch teams and effectively be leased back to you on an exploitative contract basis as a “traveling nurse,” even if the only real travel is a few blocks. This is untenable.

Read the full article from New Hampshire Bulletin here.