Caretaker crouches in front of patient

The pandemic made it even more clear that more workers are needed in senior living and care, according to a position statement released Thursday by AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

“AMDA has developed and issued our staffing standards statement now as a reminder that adequacy in staffing is not simply a matter of numbers — and we are already seeing some movement in state governments toward mandating minimum staff levels in PALTC as the policy solution to staffing shortages,” AMDA Executive Director Christopher E. Laxton told the McKnight’s Business Daily.

“Improving recruitment to bring more staff into PALTC comes first. However, for care to meet patient needs, this is just the starting point,” Laxton said. “The quality of staff training and supervision, improvements in compensation, benefits and career pathways, and the acuity level of the patient and resident population needing care, among other components outlined in our statement, all need to be considered in making staffing decisions.”

The organization suggests that more research is needed into the staffing levels that will optimally meet the individual needs of residents in nursing homes.

Additionally, when adding staff, administrators must consider issues broader than just the numbers. They need to consider things like the complexity and acuity of a facility’s population and the functional level of residents and services required, according to AMDA.

Dementia care brings its own staffing challenges. Memory care communities and nursing homes caring for residents and patients living with dementia need to have the flexibility and resources to staff the needs of this population for 24-hour caregiving, the association maintains. Also, recruitment and retention of quality staff requires salaries to increase to keep pace in a competitive market, AMDA says.

“While the bulk of the research on which this statement was based was conducted in nursing homes, the standards generally apply to all settings of PALTC, including assisted living and memory care,” Laxton said. “Specifically for those residents living with cognitive decline and dementia, adequate coverage of well-trained and compensated staff, especially during evenings, nights and weekends, which can lead to reductions in the use of high-risk medications such as anxiolytics, narcotics and antipsychotics, are all key to meeting these residents’ care needs.”