The majority of frontline healthcare workers participating in a new survey have experienced adverse mental health effects from the pandemic, and 58% of assisted living and nursing home employees believe that their employers are “falling short” in supporting them.

That’s according to results published Tuesday from a The Washington Post / Kaiser Family Foundation survey. In that poll, 62% of participating frontline healthcare workers said that worry or stress related to COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health, resulting in trouble sleeping (47%), frequent headaches or stomach aches (31%) or increased drug or alcohol use (16%).

And although most healthcare worker respondents said that their employers are providing sick leave for those who test positive or offering vaccinations, 58% of assisted living and nursing home employees said that their employers are “falling short” when it comes to providing additional pay for those working in the most high-risk situations.

Most assisted living and nursing home workers surveyed reported feeling hopeful (71%), optimistic (66%) and motivated (60%) about work, but 56% reported feeling burned out — the highest percentage among all frontline healthcare workers — and 47% reported feeling anxious. 

Assisted living and nursing home employees also reported the highest numbers of COVID infections among all frontline healthcare workers. One-fourth (24%) of assisted living and nursing home workers said they tested positive for COVID-19, compared with 18% in hospitals, 14% in doctor’s offices or clinics, and 8% working in home health settings. 

Of those respondents who tested positive, 17% reported experiencing minor symptoms, 5% experienced major symptoms, and 2% didn’t experience any symptoms.

As the vaccine rollout continues, approximately 59% of assisted living and nursing home workers said they see the pandemic as somewhat under control, 18% said that it is not at all under control, 17% say it is mostly under control and 6% see it as completely under control. 

Overall, the majority of frontline healthcare workers surveyed said that the COVID-19 pandemic is somewhat under control, whereas one in five said that it is not at all under control.

When polled about their expectations about work and home life returning to normal, 40% of assisted living and nursing home employees surveyed said they don’t expect a return to normalcy until early next year, 24% expect it by mid-summer 2021 or sooner, 22% don’t expect it until later than early 2022, and 13% said that they expect to return to their normal lives by mid-fall 2021.  

Assisted living and nursing home employees also were less likely to report receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, even though 72% reported access to vaccinations through their employers.

According to the survey, only 50% reported receiving at least one dose, with only 15% scheduled to or planning to be vaccinated. Another 24% said they do not plan to get vaccinated, and 11% are still undecided.

The survey is the 35th in a series dating back to 1995 as part of The Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation Survey Project. It includes interviews with 1,327 frontline healthcare workers representing assisted living communities and nursing homes, home health, hospitals, physician’s offices and outpatient clinics.