The American Health Care Association has found that challenges related to recruiting and retaining long-term care professionals have worsened for around 75% of nursing homes in 2021. The June survey shows that 73% of nursing home care providers strongly feel that the overall staffing situation of their facilities has worsened than last year. Despite mass vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 this year, the situation hasn’t improved.
The survey indicates that 94% of all nursing centers had a staffing shortage in May this year. The Florida Health Care Association, for instance, projects that Florida needs 3.4 million direct-care staff members by 2030. That figure would represent around a 50% upsurge since 2015.
What is Driving Nursing Home Staffing Shortfall?
Low Wages and Undesirable Benefits
The main factors driving the shortfalls and high turnover numbers of long-term care providers are poor compensation and unfavorable benefits. Although certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are a fundamental part of nursing home care, they earn so little. If the status quo is maintained, nursing homes will continue facing staff shortages and the situation is more likely to get worse.
Nursing homes lack the necessary resources to sustain a strong workforce due to severe underfunding from Medicaid. The program takes care of just 70% to 80% of the total cost of care.
Increased Workload and Unfavorable Work Environment
Due to understaffing, nursing homes have enforced mandatory overtime policies to ensure staff members would be available almost all the time. An increased workload coupled with an unfavorable work environment hurts the decision to enter or stay in the long-term care profession. It may also increase the rates of fatigued driving among overworked long-term care providers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 132,000 residents and over 1,900 nursing home care providers as of June 13. This highlights the dreadful repercussions of staff shortfalls in long-term care facilities. A large number of unvaccinated CNAs have been forced to stay away from their workplaces after contracting new COVID-19 variants, making the overall staffing situation even more dreadful.
How Does Nursing Home Staff Shortage Affect Patient Care?
Because of understaffing, staff members in nursing homes work long hours in unfavorable work environments, which can lead to exhaustion, workplace illness, injury, and job frustration. Staff members working in these stressful environments are more likely to make medical mistakes. The unfortunate result is that the quality of patient care can drop, leading to preventable problems like medical errors, slip and fall injuries for elderly residents, and more disturbingly increased mortality rates.