woman with face mask down, looking out window

Amid a surge in COVID-19 infections across the United States, new data reaffirms the ongoing negative financial effects the pandemic is having on nonprofit long-term care operators. Almost half now say that they probably could not support the expenses associated with new COVID-19 cases in their organizations without additional financial support. That’s according to a new survey of nonprofit aging services providers conducted this month by LeadingAge.

The survey also found that more than half (52%) of respondents have had a COVID-19 case or death among residents or clients, whereas more than 90% have had a case or death among staff. 

“COVID’s deadliest moment has arrived, and older lives are being treated as expendable. As Congress debates how to respond, older adults and their care providers need to be at the front of the line along with hospitals,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “Eighty percent of COVID deaths have been older adults, and we’re fast approaching 100,000 deaths in long-term care. What more is needed to make this a priority?”

Outside of any incidences of new cases, however, most providers (63%) said they have enough of a financial cushion to support COVID-related expenses without further financial assistance for one to five months, but less than one third (30%) have enough for six or more months, the survey found.

“Many nonprofit care providers are seeking charitable contributions, digging deep into reserves or running on fumes to cover expenses from months of extra [personal protective equipment], testing supplies, lab tests, and added care and housekeeping staff,” Sloan said. “These stopgap measures are unsustainable without further help, starting with $100 billion to protect older adults in the upcoming relief package.”

The survey of 193 nonprofit aging services providers also showed that staffing challenges are furthering financial strain. Nearly all survey respondents (91%) said staffing costs have increased over the past nine months. Additional staffing challenges operators have faced include finding enough staff to cover shifts (73%), recruitment of new workers (71%), stress and fear among workers (67%), covering for workers out on sick leave (65%), and protecting the health and safety of workers (52%).

Survey responses came from nursing homes, assisted living communities, life plan / continuing care retirement communities, affordable senior housing communities, home healthcare, hospice and Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.