Nursing homesThey are still struggling to find their feet in the long shadows of the COVID-19 crises, which has seen employment levels fall sharply since pre-pandemic levels.

reportThe American Health Care Association (ACHA/NCAL), Wednesday published data showing that nursing homes have lost 220,000 jobs between March 2020 and October 2021. This is equivalent to a drop of 14%.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the number of jobs in assisted living communities has also declined.

These numbers are in stark contrast to the employment statistics in other areas in health care. Many of these have even exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Outpatient care centers, home health care, physicians’ offices and hospitals have all mostly recovered or even added jobs.

Two crises face nursing homes. The industry is facing a dual crisis. At the same, workers are being forced out by the high demands of work and the low pay. Occupancy rates are dropping, which reduces the revenue facilities could otherwise make to lure back workers.

A AARP Report in October detailed the causesThe growing number of vacant beds can be attributed to both long-term trends and more recent, serious factors.

In the 70s, seniors chose to stay at home. The growth of industries such as personal care services and home-delivery food programs has made this possible. That’s partially responsible for a 13% occupancy drop over the decades, from a high of 93% in the 70s to 80% in June 2019.

On April 17, 2020, a medical worker takes a picture outside FutureCare Lochearn, posing with the signs that read “Heroes work here”
Tom Brenner via Reuters

However, there are more serious elements at work with the pandemic. Not least COVID. estimated 150,000So far, the disease has claimed at least ten lives in nursing homes.

In some cases, facilities have halted admissions for safety reasons. This further reduces occupancy. Some hospitals are cancelling elective surgery, thereby reducing the flow of potential patients, who could often remain in long-term care facilities while they recover from their surgeries.

“The way that nursing homes have managed to fight back the tide of bankruptcy over several decades … is by taking on more and more short-term patients that are paid highly by Medicare,” Jon Gruber, an MIT economist and the director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, told Boston Public Radio last spring.

“The problem is, those patients have suddenly gone away, because no one’s getting knee surgeries. No one’s getting those surgeries where they have to recover in the nursing home,” he said.

Gruber stated to HuffPost that even with the decrease in patients Gruber indicated to HuffPost that at the industry level, the work volume still exceeds the number of people available. The more worrying question, he said, is whether these employees are just slow to return to the industry ― or if they’ve abandoned the sector permanently.

If they don’t, senior citizens will pay the price.

“There is a substantial body of evidence that more staffing leads to better outcomes for seniors,” Gruber said. “The main answer is clear: Raise pay for these incredibly challenging jobs.”

“Short of that, I think we need to figure out a way to make the jobs more attractive – in particular by creating career ladders for long-term care workers so that these don’t become dead-end jobs,” he said.


Share Your Comment Below


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here