Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes are in need of nurses more than ever. 2021 has resulted in a significant decrease in nursing home employment. 86% of nursing homes reported serious staffing issues. 59% have even reported that the problem has reached critical levels. Unfortunately, 70% of nursing homes are having a hard time increasing staff. Ohio, which has one of the highest numbers of nursing homes in the country, has reported a greater shortage of nursing assistants in 2020 compared to other states.
There are several costs of low staff. 78% of nursing homes are worried that continued lack of staff will result in closure. This will cause issues down the road. Especially considering that one in five adults in the U.S. will reach retirement age by 2030. 20% of seniors are expected to need additional care for at least 5 years. Fewer staff means residents will receive less care. This could mean residents receiving about 21 fewer minutes of staff contact each day. As a result they are getting less support during mealtimes. Also fewer showers and baths, and more chances of getting wounded or falling.
Several factors contribute to the shortage, but one of the main causes is the increased stress experienced by at least 62% of healthcare workers. The stress has caused many to develop head or stomach aches and/or increased alcohol or drug usage. As a result, staff have decided to quit even though there are not enough new employees in training who can replace the ones who have quit. New COVID-19 vaccine mandates could cause even more staff to walk away as only 56% of Ohio’s nursing home staff are vaccinated.
Efforts such as offering an employee assistance program or celebrating staff members could help decrease the amount of burnout and reduce employee turnover rates, but there is ultimately no definite solution to the staff shortage, especially considering that most nursing homes don’t have any way of increasing pay or benefits. Fewer patients coming to nursing homes from hospitals has caused revenue to decrease while the need for more safety measures and P.P.E. have increased costs. However, there is still hope in the form of new recruitment tactics, such as investing in providing more training or nursing programs.
With the pandemic continuing to rage on, the need for nurses is more crucial than ever before to make sure those we care about get the help they need.