Long-term care providers — in senior living, skilled nursing, home care and adult day services — must invest in their workforces if they are to survive the difficult circumstances facing the sector as the economy starts to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Marsh McClennan.

“As senior care needs and business models evolve, it is vital for the sector to invest in its workforce so that institutions can both cope with the long tail of COVID-19 and remain viable in a changing, aging world,” the authors wrote.

Hiring and retaining workers is a challenge across the sector, and more work needs to be done to minimize the problem, according to the professional services firm.

“High turnover and difficulty in recruiting new employees are exacerbating risks associated with the quality of care as well as generating operational, reputational and legal costs,” the report authors said. “To attract and retain more workers, more needs to be done — with adequate funding and stakeholder support — to improve pay, working conditions, and career prospects.”

Money isn’t the only issue, according to the authors. Providers must work to ensure proper knowledge and skills among their caregivers. In addition, communication up and down the chain of command is necessary for ensuring occupational support.

Mitigating workforce shortages should be viewed as an investment rather than an expense, they said.

“Only with such investments can providers attract and retain workers while ensuring they have the right skills and are healthy and productive,” the authors wrote. “But the rewards of rising to the occasion will be great: A more stable and successful business with more energized and loyal employees, as well as better standing in the eyes of ESG [environmental, social, and governance]-conscious insurers and lenders.”