Post-It note with "now hiring" written on it

Sixty-one percent of assisted living operators responding to a recent survey by the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living said they fear that workforce issues will force them to close.

Nineteen percent of assisted living respondents to the “State of the Long-Term Care Industry” survey said they are “very concerned” about closing, and 42% said they are “somewhat concerned.” Twenty-eight percent of assisted living providers said they were “not at all concerned,” however.

Overall, workforce issues have worsened for 77% of assisted living providers since June, according to survey results. The survey, conducted Sept. 10, included responses from 145 assisted living providers, and 1,038 skilled nursing facility providers (including some with assisted living).

Forty-eight percent of the assisted living respondents to the survey said that their workforce situations are “much worse,” and 29% said they are “somewhat worse.” Fifteen percent said their situations were the same, and 7% said they were “somewhat better” or “much better.”

Ninety-six percent of assisted living communities said they are facing staffing shortages. Eighty-two percent of participating assisted living operators said they are experiencing moderate (52%) to high (30%) level staffing shortages. Only 4% of respondents said their communities are fully staffed.

All assisted living poll participants said that in response to staffing shortages, they have asked current staff members to work overtime or extra shifts. Thirty-eight percent said they have hired temporary agency staff, and 28% said they have limited move-ins. 

Findings also revealed that all assisted living respondents are experiencing hiring challenges, with 66% of assisted living respondents reporting a “very difficult” time and an additional 34% saying they are having a “somewhat difficult” time hiring new staff members.

The availability of employment benefits (72%) and a lack of interested or qualified candidates (71%) were identified as the biggest obstacles to hiring in assisted living. Other obstacles cited by assisted living respondents included state or provider vaccination requirements (40%) and the inability to offer competitive wages (34%). The fear of contracting COVID-19 was reported as a challenge by 9% of assisted living providers.

AHCA / NCAL also surveyed nursing home operators. 

“The survey demonstrates the severe workforce challenges long-term care providers are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many facilities are struggling to hire and retain staff that are needed to serve millions of vulnerable residents,” said AHCA / NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson. “Lawmakers across the country must prioritize long-term care, and that begins with providing resources to address workforce challenges. When facilities have the means to offer competitive wages and training programs, workers will follow.”

The $3.5 trillion reconciliation package under consideration in Congress, Parkinson said, would be appropriate to address long-term solutions to workforce staffing challenges in the industry.

“Congress has the opportunity right now, through budget reconciliation, to include meaningful investments in long-term care, which will help address key staffing challenges,” he said. “Our caregivers are the backbone of long-term care, and they deserve the full support of our lawmakers.”

For details about how long-term care providers responded, see coverage by the McKnight’s Business Daily and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.