The long-term care worker shortage has brought this highly demanding and profitable industry of long-term care facilities to the verge of closing.

As per the study, 73% of long-term care facilities are on the verge of closing.

Like many other healthcare departments, there is a severe staffing shortage in long-term care facilities also.

87% of long-term care facilities are facing moderate to high staffing shortages.

About 61% of long-term care facilities are restricting admissions due to staffing shortages.

98% of facilities are facing difficulty in hiring staff.

But unlike other fields of the healthcare industry, long-term care facilities are facing this issue of long-term care workforce shortage long before the pandemic. 

Long-term healthcare workers are leaving their current job or leaving their professions due to multiple reasons. 

Let’s explore these reasons in brief.

Why are there constant shortages of staffing in long-term care

1) Dangerous working conditions

Healthcare workers in long-term care facilities are dedicated to providing lifting, bathing, toileting, dressing, and feeding which hold the risk of getting injured.

And so this is one of the main reasons for the long-term care worker shortage.

2) Poor pay benefits

Another reason for the staffing shortage in long-term care is poor pay benefits.

The largest part of the nursing home employees is certified nursing assistants, who are underpaid with an average annual salary of 30,000$. 

Many of them are hired as individual contractors, or temporary employees and are not given any benefits of paid leaves or insurance. This makes employees leave the facility due to the high workload.

3) Fewer scope of advancement

Along with the less pay and other benefits, nurses of long-term care facilities face a lack of career advancement options, which makes them attracted to other lucrative career opportunities and leads to a long-term care staff shortage

4) Burnout

Since the pandemic, burnout has been the main contributing factor to a staffing shortage in long-term care.

In many long-term care facilities, the number of patients per nurse is higher, at approximately 30 patients per nurse. 

Moreover, these are the patients who require help in each of their day-to-day tasks which makes it very tiring and stressful for the nurses and leads to burnout.

5) Respect the deficit of the profession

Lack of love and respect for the profession is another reason for the long-term care staffing shortage.

Due to fewer opportunities for career advancement, fewer financial benefits, overload of work, and burnout, the long-term care facility nurses lack interest and respect for the profession and urge them to leave.

Effects of a long-term care staff shortage

The long-term care staff shortage has created many challenges for long-term care facilities.

Let’s discuss some of these challenges.

According to the AHCA, and NCAL survey, 86% of skilled nursing facilities and 76% of assisted living providers reported the worst workforce situation. 

In January 2021, North Carolina reported two deaths at Pine Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center in the city of Thomasville due to one nurse and two CNAs taking care of 98 residents.

This center was then subsequently sanctioned.  

1) Residents are paying the price

One of the biggest long-term care facility challenges due to staffing shortages is the suffering of residents.

Due to inadequate staffing, the residents always have to suffer, but covid made the situation severe where along with 150,000 nurses residents are also dying, and many others have been left negligent and isolated. 

The associated press reported that in the period between March to November 2020 the nursing home residents saw the maximum number of deaths due to non-covid-related causes.

2) Long-term care facilities are on verge of closing

The other long-term care facility challenge is to keep up with the financial loss and unsatisfied residents, which urge them to close the facilities.

Due to inadequate staffing, many long-term care facilities are unable to serve residents up to their expectations and even lose them. To avoid losing lives, these facilities are restricting new admissions of patients which have led them to greater financial loss.

Because of this, now these institutions have decided to close their facilities. Up to 40% of residents in nursing homes are currently in facilities that are on the verge of financial closure.

3) Hiring has become challenging

Due to the above-mentioned challenges of working in long-term care facilities, many long-term care facilities are facing problems in recruiting new talents.

Thus, now long-term care facilities don’t have any options but to close their facilities. But the result of this closure will be vulnerable, as about 13 million people in the U.S. are using this facility. 

And if they get closed, it may have devastating effects on residents and their families. With the closing of long-term care facilities, vulnerable seniors will be uprooted from their community and will have to find new care options.

To avoid these life-threatening situations; long-term care facilities must take a few steps to combat these long-term care facility challenges by retaining staff.

Some of the following tips may help them to retain staff and provide good care to residents and ease the long-term care worker shortage

  1. Offer stronger supervisory training.
  2. Clear communication of work expectations.
  3. Build collaboration between nurses and other staff members.
  4. Remember everyone’s name; it makes a huge difference!
  5. Reduce activities spent on things other than direct resident care and increase productivity.

How to improve staffing in long-term care facilities

Optimum staffing in long-term care facilities is crucial to maintain a good quality of patient care and keep workload pressure on each employee at bay.

But a shortage of skilled workers has made staffing in long-term-care facilities challenging. The long-term care worker shortage can be overcome by following some of the tips explained below.

1) Improve the long-term care challenge

By improving overall sector oversight, renewing performance measurements, and developing strong and coherent philosophies of care, an organization can do a cultural shift to a more respectful team.

This kind of culture would help employees to work in the facility for longer periods of time and reduce the employee turnover rate.

2) Reduce workload and improve working conditions

Offer competitive compensation, protect them from physical, emotional, or mental burnout, and increase levels of charting and documentation. All these will increase employee retention within long-term care facilities.

3) Attract the right employees and offer them opportunities to learn and grow.

The employees in long-term care facilities are required to work with patients who are aged or people who require more care even after getting discharged from hospitals.

This requires an employee with high compassion, patience, and the ability to work in stressful conditions.

So along with looking at their academic skills a long-term care facility has to check for their interpersonal skills also.

4) Improve effective leadership and access to specialists

Medical directors must expand the use of nurses and ensure access to strong inspection prevention and control and expertise and increase to specialists.

This attracts good-quality candidates and retains them for a longer time.