NIC Chief: ‘Obvious Advantages’ Exist in Senior Care Industry Despite Persisting Staffing Crisis – Skilled Nursing News

While the long-term care industry continues to see labor shortage pressures impact day-to-day operations and, at times, hinder the ability to improve occupancy levels, the impending decline in the availability of family caregivers could present future growth for congregate care settings.

“On the one hand it’s challenging to find that staff, but on the other hand if you look at just the general demographic trends … there are obvious advantages to having congregate care settings,” National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) president and CEO Brian Jurutka said as part of his opening remarks to kick off the organization’s 2021 fall conference in Houston.

What Jurutka is referring to is that compared to 2010 when the caregiver support ratio was more than seven potential caregivers for every 80-plus person, the ratio in 2030 is expected to fall to a 4-1 ratio and in 2050 it will stand at a ratio of 3-to-1, according to data from the AARP.

“There are some opportunities though for senior living in that space, and that it is congregate care, and I think there will be a need for that in the future,” he said.

The workforce issues, however, are not only affecting the senior care industry, but rather they reflect broader economic issues, he said.

“It’s challenging to see how [labor] is solved at a country level, and that will require innovation for us as a country and as an industry to address,” Jurutka said, mentioning the topic of immigration reform as a potential way to reduce the staffing crunch.

NIC MAP® Data, released by NIC MAP Vision, recently released data that showed occupancy increased 58 basis points from June to July to land at 75%. It still remains well below pre-pandemic occupancy levels of 85.5% in February 2020, but up from January’s pandemic low of 71.4% this year.

Jurutka said during the press briefing Monday that continued staffing shortages have forced some facilities to limit new residents coming in, as well as hospital referrals and hospital capacity being affected by the delta variant and the reduction in elective surgeries, all likely played a role in the skilled nursing industry’s plateau in recovery as of late. 

Mark Parkinson, CEO and president of the American Health Care Association, previously told Skilled Nursing News that the industry was on track to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic before the delta variant hit.

“If we had been able to continue on the trajectory [we were on], we would have been pretty close to recovery by the end of 2021,” he said. “The delta variant came along, and it has caused a pause in our census recovery.”

NIC MAP data was collected from 26 contributors across 47 states for the month of July, a change from 27 contributors in June. This changed the total SNF property number from 1,314 in June to 1,289 in July.

NIC’s annual fall event attracts more than 2,000 attendees ranging from investors and operators to vendors in the senior housing and care space. This is the first in-person NIC conference since before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

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Jordyn Reiland

When Jordyn’s not covering the latest skilled nursing news, she’s likely catching a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes or watching Gilmore Girls all the way through for the millionth time. Previously, she covered the legal beat for various publications.