Three Quarters of U.S. Nursing Homes May Need to Close Due to Staffing Shortages: Study

Nursing home staffing shortages have worsened since the beginning of the year from an already dismal starting point.

More than 73% of U.S. nursing homes report that they at risk closing due to staffing shortages stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the findings of a new study.

Roughly 60% of nursing homes are operating at a financial loss and most may have to close due to staffing problems spurred by the pandemic, which are affecting both working conditions and patient care, according to research by investigators with the American Health Care Association’s (AHCA).

In the recently published June 2022 State of the Nursing Home Industry report, the AHCA conducted a survey of 759 nursing home providers. The report warns the industry is still facing major staffing and economic problems.

Nursing homes were significantly affected by the pandemic. More than 200,000 residents and staff in nursing homes died from COVID-19, largely due to problems stemming from understaffing. However, since the pandemic has continued, nursing homes have struggled to recover and face a lack of staff and inability to care for residents. More than 240,000 nursing home employees were lost since the start of the pandemic.

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More than 60% of nursing homes surveyed said their staffing situations worsened since the start of 2022 and nearly 90% of nursing homes are facing moderate or high staffing shortages.

Furthermore, nearly all of nursing homes surveyed, 98%, said they are experiencing difficulty hiring staff and 99% said they are asking current staff to work overtime.

In May, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report calling for immediate nursing home reform, including improved staffing standards, competitive compensation, benefits, child-care, health insurance and sick pay.

Hiring Efforts Flounder

Despite 90% of nursing homes offering increased wages and bonuses they are still struggling to hire new staff, indicates the new AHCA report. Nearly two-thirds are concerned about having to close. More than 60% of nursing homes are limiting new admissions for patients to help ease staff workloads.

The report also indicated nursing home providers estimate their costs have increased by 41% in only one year. Nearly 6 out of 10 nursing home providers are operating at a financial loss and more than half of providers said they can’t sustain their current pace more than one year.

Increased wages to entice new staffing is one approach, but not the only factor in helping nursing homes become financially solvent following the pandemic. Advocates call for Congress to offer funding for nursing homes to help protect access to care for those who need it.

The Biden administration said it plans to improve nursing home care by setting minimum staffing requirements for those funded by Medicare and Medicaid. Poorly performing nursing homes found to consistently provide unsafe care will be cut off from federal funding.

Many critics said these goals are not enough to help improve the state of nursing homes in the country today and highlight the high cost of the proposed reforms to increase staffing. Additionally, AHCA said the requirements would be impossible to meet and call for further federal funding and interventions.


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