Our health care heroes need aid – now.
Pre-COVID, nursing homes faced chronic Medicaid underfunding, which made it difficult to attract and retain nurses, nurse aides and other critical personnel. The pandemic only exacerbated these staffing challenges, and now long term care faces a historic labor crisis.
The Nursing Home Workforce is at a Nearly 30-Year Low
Nursing homes are experiencing the worst job loss and slowest workforce recovery compared to all other health care settings. Read the latest jobs report.
Caregivers are Burned Out and Dwindling
Frontline caregivers are heroes for serving our nation’s most vulnerable. They continue to do everything they can to protect their residents from COVID-19 and deliver high quality care. But the pandemic has taken an emotional and physical toll, and caregivers are exhausted.
At the same time, the nursing gap is deepening—the United States doesn’t have a pipeline of caregivers ready to fill the void despite a growing elderly population.
Number of Nursing Home Employees at a 28-year Low
According to reports, nursing home workforce levels are reaching numbers not seen since 1994.
Dedicating Every Possible Resource
Long term care providers have directed tens of billions of dollars to support their staff during the pandemic—including wage increases, bonuses, PPE, training and more. But with fixed government rates, nursing homes on shoestring budgets lack the resources to make additional investments in their workforce.
Nursing home workers saw wage increases in 2020 (9.5%) and 2021 (6.3%) that outpaced those working at other types of care facilities.
For nurses working in nursing homes, average wage rates doubled from 2020 to 2021.
Increasing Need for Temporary Staff
In order to ensure residents receive the around-the-clock care they need, many facilities are having to increasingly rely on temporary agencies to fill staffing shortages. There are widespread concerns that these staffing agencies are exploiting the pandemic and the health care labor shortage by inflating prices beyond reasonably competitive levels, depleting providers of precious resources needed to invest in full-time staff.
- Rates for contracted and agency nurses are 2-3 times higher than pre-pandemic rates.
- More than 70% of nursing homes are having to hire expensive agency staff.
Unfunded Staffing Mandates Would Worsen the Crisis
Proposals to increase staffing minimums in nursing homes won’t solve this labor crisis. The industry needs resources and support to help recruit and retain more frontline caregivers. A recent study found that increasing staffing ratios would:
- Cost $10 billion a year
- Require hiring more than 187,000 nurses and nurse’s aides
- Put more than 205,000 nursing home residents at risk of displacement, as facilities may be forced to limit the number of residents they can serve
How Seniors Are Impacted
The labor crisis has a direct impact on seniors’ access to long term care. When long term care facilities do not have enough staff, they must limit the number of residents they can serve. Some facilities are closing altogether because of staffing shortages.
- 61% of nursing homes are limiting new admissions due to a lack of staff.
- 73% of nursing homes are concerned workforce challenges might force them to close.
The result: seniors who need care are put on waitlists, family members must expand their search and drive farther to see their loved one, and hospitals are overwhelmed with patients who should be discharged.
Meanwhile, with a growing elderly population, the demand for long term care is only increasing.