The workforces of long-term care providers are being stretched thin as the gap between the supply of caregivers and the number of older adults requiring care continues to grow, LeadingAge New York testified at a state senate hearing Tuesday.

“The workforce crisis is not coming; it’s here. The state must develop and implement a comprehensive plan to address the long-term care workforce crisis so that older New Yorkers have the quality care they need and deserve,” Ami J. Schnauber, vice president of advocacy and public policy for the organization, told the McKnight’s Business Daily. “LeadingAge New York has several proposals aimed at expanding resources and support for our LTC workforce. We would be glad to work with the legislature on these critical initiatives so that we can empower our workforce and providers to better care for our seniors.”

According to written testimony Schnauber submitted to the New York Senate, pre-existing workforce challenges across the continuum of long-term care were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members throughout the state, she added, are experiencing big challenges in filling direct care positions, as the supply of available workers is not keeping up with demand at nursing homes, assisted living communities, home care agencies and hospice programs.

Further, Schnauber shared in her testimony, as the younger members of the baby boom generation take their place in the growing senior demographic, the number of Americans aged 18 to 64 is on the decline.

“The number of people available to care for an expanding older adult population is declining,” she wrote.

Many care staff members left their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic for various reasons, and those who remain often are weary. At the same time, training programs for certified nurse aides have come to a standstill, according to LeadingAge New York. Further, the state contractor that oversees the testing for CNAs suspended its activities until recently.

“Nursing homes have been permitted to hire non-certified aides under a

temporary waiver, which has helped to mitigate aide shortages, but is far from a long-term or complete solution,” according to the testimony.

Additionally, Schnauber testified that workforce shortages also are driving up the cost of care because of added overtime or the high cost of hiring temporary workers from staffing agencies.

“Ultimately, our not-for-profit members will not continue to operate if they cannot safely staff their facilities or properly serve home care patients, and they will close their doors or sell to for-profit operators,” she said. 

Several skilled nursing and assisted living providers across the Empire State have closed or are facing closure since the pandemic, and others are in negotiations to be sold, Schnauber pointed out. 

“We must implement strategies immediately to build the LTC workforce to ensure that high-quality, mission-driven nursing homes, assisted living, and home care agencies are available as the baby boom generation ages,” her testimony concluded.