COVID-19 Pandemic Leaves Lasting Impact on Senior Care Facilities

The pandemic has impacted access to care for vulnerable seniors.

By HFT Staff
January 13, 2023

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) released a survey that highlights the way nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry continues to face serious labor and economic crises. The survey findings also demonstrate the way the crises are impacting access to care for vulnerable seniors and would make it impossible for the industry to meet increasing government staffing requirements without corresponding support.  

The survey’s key findings include: 

  • Forty-five percent of nursing home providers said their workforce situation has worsened since May 2022. 
  • Eighty-four percent are facing moderate to high levels of staffing shortages. 
  • Ninety-six percent find difficulty in hiring staff. 
  • Ninety-seven percent said the lack of interested or qualified candidates is a major obstacle to hiring new staff. 
  • More than nine out of 10 nursing home providers have increased wages and offered bonuses to try to recruit and retain staff. 
  • To adjust for staffing shortages, 78 percent have hired temporary agency staff. 

The labor shortage is impacting access to care for the nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities. Fifty-four percent of nursing home providers say they are having to turn away prospective residents. More than two-thirds of respondents are concerned their facility might have to close due to persistent workforce challenges. 

The workforce crisis is contributing to the financial instability for the chronically underfunded sector, as 55 percent of nursing home providers say they are operating at a loss and might not be able to continue operating for more than a year at the current pace (52 percent). 

Nursing home providers were also asked about a potential federal minimum staffing mandate. The survey found that providers’ biggest concern with a potential mandate is finding staff to meet the requirement, followed by having to rely on more costly agency staff to fill shifts. 

A proposal that has been floated in the past would require that each resident receive 4.1 hours of care per day (HPRD) from nursing staff. Nearly all respondents (95 percent) were concerned about being able to meet a 4.1 HPRD staffing minimum, including 79 percent who were very concerned. 

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