Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in a range of ways, but when it comes to the labor shortage afflicting these facilities, no sector has been hit harder than nursing homes. Now, an industry association is using data and projections to demonstrate the scope of the problem and help the public understand its likely impact on patient care.
If nursing homes continue to gain jobs at the current, modest pace, a potential recovery to pre-pandemic staffing levels would take at least four years, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). The group represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately 5 million people each year.
The report shows a projection based on the nursing home sector’s average job gains from the last four months – increasing by 4,600 jobs per month. The model indicates workforce levels might not return to pre-pandemic staffing levels until 2026.
The report also includes new data through July 2022 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows nursing homes still face a loss of 223,700 caregivers since the beginning of the pandemic. This healthcare sector has experienced the worst job loss and the slowest recovery. While hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers and other health care facilities have reached or surpassed pre-pandemic staffing levels, nursing home employees are still down more than 14 percent compared to February 2020.
“Our caregivers, who are working themselves ragged, and our growing elderly population can’t afford to wait another four years,” says Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “The long-term care workforce needs a boost now. We urge federal and state policymakers to put their support behind policies that attract and retain caregivers for our nation’s seniors.”