Member of long-term care workforce shaking hands during recruiting job interview.
(Credit: SDI Productions / Getty Productions)

Ninety-four percent of long-term care operators surveyed are experiencing moderate to severe staffing shortages, according to the latest Executive Survey Insights report, released Thursday by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

For the Wave 39 survey, 27% of respondents indicated that their staffing shortages were severe, and 67% reported that they were moderate. All of the participants said that they are paying overtime hours to backfill positions. Seventy-five percent said they are using agency or temporary staff, down from a peak of 89% in the Wave 36 survey conducted in December. 

Citing competition from other industries and staffing agencies, more than half (54%) of the respondents said that nursing aide positions are the most difficult to fill. At the same time, three-quarters of participants (75%) said they are optimistic that staffing challenges will improve in the second half of 2022 or in 2023.

Senior living and skilled nursing operators said they have gotten creative in recruiting caregivers, with strategies including: 

  • daily pay
  • scholarship programs/full tuition for nursing education
  • personalizing sign-on rewards
  • perfect attendance bonuses for new hires at the end of 30, 60 and 90 days
  • increasing wages 10% to 15% in the past six months
  • immediate phone follow-up after interviews
  • housing within the community
  • access to community wellness programs and clinics
  • hiring in-house staff recruiters to update job ads every two days
  • reducing new hire paperwork and using an online document-signing tool
  • flexible start times to accommodate childcare and school schedules
  • hiring agency staffing permanently

Operators reported engaging resident sales and marketing staff for new ideas, using social media campaigns and also educating managers on how to manage more effectively in today’s environment.

Finding full-time staff members can be challenging, they said. About a fourth of the organizations represented in the survey said that more than 20% of their full-time positions were unfilled, and approximately one-third said 10% or less of their positions were unfilled.

The Wave 39 survey includes responses collected from March 7 to April 3 from owners and executives of 69 senior housing and skilled nursing operators from across the country.