The long-term industry is facing intense staffing headwinds in 2021, and assisted living providers are finding workers in short supply.
That’s according to a new survey from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) that was conducted between June 7 and 11.
The survey, released Wednesday, sheds light on the scale of labor challenges in 2021, with responses from 616 nursing homes and 122 assisted living communities across the U.S. It also underscores the challenges that many providers face in 2021 as they recover from the pandemic and seek to rebuild occupancy.
Among assisted living providers that responded to the survey, 81% reported facing recent staff shortages. Of those operators, 34% felt as though staffing had gotten “somewhat worse” compared to 2020, and 25% felt as though staffing was “much worse” than a year prior.
More than half of assisted living operators (59%) reported losing CNAs or direct caregivers in 2020, while 57% reported that dietary staff members had quit in the past year.
For nursing homes, the challenges were even greater, with 94% reporting recent staff shortages and 73% reporting that their workforce situations have gotten “somewhat worse” or “much worse” in the past year.
As for what those providers thought they needed to get over staffing shortages, 81% of assisted living communities and 75% of nursing homes said they needed higher reimbursement to offer more competitive wages and benefits. The same number of assisted living providers and nursing homes (48%) said that there needed to be an improved perception of working in senior living or with older adults.
Staffing has been a growing concern for many senior living providers in 2021, with some leaders telling Senior Housing News that they worried less about rebuilding occupancy and more about rebuilding their workforces during the pandemic recovery.
If workforce challenges persist, they could slow the pace of post-pandemic occupancy recovery for the senior living industry, Rick Matros, CEO of Sabra Health Care REIT (Nasdaq: SBRA), said during a recent SHN+ TALKS appearance.
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“If you have 10 patients or residents that you’re going to admit over the next week or two, you have to have enough staff to be able to accommodate those folks and provide the right level of care. You may only be able to take six of them,” Matros said. “The operators who do it right are going to self-monitor that stuff.”