Nearly all U.S. nursing homes are currently facing a staffing shortage. In 2020 and 2021, the U.S. has reached the lowest nursing home employment rate due to the COVID pandemic. The staffing situation has grown even worse for 86% of nursing homes between June and September 2021. Out of the 99% of nursing homes now facing a staff shortage, 59% have reported reaching critical levels. 70% of nursing facilities have also reported having a difficult time hiring new staff.
Spotlight on Ohio
Ohio has the third highest number of nursing homes in the U.S. and is currently high in demand for nurses. Ohio had the worst shortage of nursing assistants than any other U.S. state in 2020. The demand for experienced nursing staff continues to grow in 2021, especially in Dayton and Cincinnati.
Due to the staffing shortage, 78% of nursing homes are concerned about being forced to close. There are more seniors in need of care than ever before, with one in five adults expected to reach retirement age by 2030 in the U.S., but nursing home staff ratios have already fallen 32% between February 2020 and January 2021. As a result of fewer nursing home staff, residents receive an average of 21 fewer minutes of staff contact each day than the recommended average of four hours of daily nursing care.
The pandemic has significantly affected the current nurse shortage as 62% of healthcare workers expressed the pandemic causing their increased stress levels. The pressures and mental health issues related to the pandemic coupled with the continuous staff shortages have resulted in many staff members quitting. Additionally, with only 56% of the nurses in Ohio nursing facilities vaccinated against COVID-19, new vaccine mandates could lead to more staff quitting.
Solutions to the Staffing Shortage
One solution to the staffing shortage is to provide better working conditions that ensure safety, provide mental health support, and offer employee appreciation to decrease burnout and turnover rates. Another is to increase pay or benefits, but unfortunately most nursing homes don’t have the money to support such an option. In fact, 84% of nursing facilities had fewer incoming patients from hospitals, resulting in lost revenue and many nursing facilities cutting costs when they most needed it.
Nursing homes will continue to face staffing shortages for a while, but new avenues for recruitment such as adding more training opportunities for new employees, offering nursing programs at high schools, and providing new green cards for those who need them could help gradually satisfy the demand for nurses.