Post-It Note with "Now Hiring" on it
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Despite fewer reports of severe shortages, attracting staff members remains a top challenge for senior living operators, according to the results of the latest National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Executive Survey, released Thursday.

In Wave 41, 83% of senior living and skilled nursing operators cited attracting community and caregiving staff as a top challenge, followed by increased operating expenses (80%) and staff turnover (63%).

Three-fourths of respondents (77%) identified moderate staffing shortages, marking the second consecutive wave in which moderate staffing shortages increased. At the same time, severe staffing shortages dropped again to 16%, compared with 19% in Wave 40 and 27% in Wave 39.

Approximately one in three respondents reported that 11% to 20% of their full-time positions remain unfilled, whereas about two of five reported that 20% or more positions are unfilled.

Move-in pace continues to increase

Overall, operators reported a continued increase in the pace of move-ins from prior surveys, which NIC Senior Principal Ryan Brooks called an “encouraging sign that recovery is continuing.”

Fifty-three percent of respondents with assisted living, 51% of respondents with memory care and 36% of respondents with independent living reported that they had experienced an acceleration in the pace of move-ins in May.

The portion of respondents reporting an acceleration of move-ins declined for independent living and assisted living, however; in Wave 40, 61% of assisted living respondents and 50% of independent living respondents had reported such an acceleration. The pace of move-ins did increase for memory care compared with Wave 40, though, when 43% of memory care respondents reported an increased pace. 

Needs at move-in increase

And residents are moving in with higher needs, including care for comorbidities or greater need for assistance with activities of daily living.

Seventy-one percent of assisted living operators, 61% of memory care providers and 41% of independent living operators said their new residents needed higher levels of care or services compared with new residents before the pandemic.

Delayed move-ins as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are at the heart of the issue, Brooks hypothesized to McKnight’s Senior Living, saying that existing chronic conditions potentially worsened during the time residents delayed moving.

Lead volumes up

Lead volumes were up for 54% of respondents, reaching above pre-pandemic levels — this compares with 52% reporting increased lead levels in Wave 40 and 33% in Wave 38

In Wave 41, large operators had the highest reports of lead levels above pre-pandemic levels (60%), followed by mid-sized operators (57%), angle-site operators (53%) and small-sized operators (46%). 

“While this is an encouraging sign, this may be reflecting pent-up demand from earlier in the pandemic,” Brooks said. 

Responses were collected May 2 to 27 from senior living and skilled nursing operators.