The story of Mother of Mercy Assisted Living Facility is one instance that encapsulates the wide-scale struggles with long-term care staffing throughout the pandemic.
It started with one resident testing positive for the virus, followed by the facility suddenly being short-staffed within a day.
To further illustrate these losses, 16 employees left over 24 hours at Mother of Mercy.
Some of them were high school students who couldn’t risk interacting with someone who had COVID-19 because they still needed to attend classes. Others that quit plainly had concerns about their families and their own well-being.
Below, this blog will further dig into this downward trend in assisted healthcare staffing across the US.
Issues with Nursing Home Staffing Existed Before COVID-19—Now, it’s Worse
As a report from CNBC highlights, shortages in assisted healthcare staffing preexisted COVID-19. Outside of the virus, factors such as low wages and challenging working conditions contributed to high levels of turnover and difficulties filling job vacancies.
Then, enter the COVID-19 crisis, and you combine the above concerns with a heightened risk of contracting a potentially deadly virus.
On the surface, and through a strictly bottom-line lens, the logistical problems this shortage creates for nursing home management are lofty. Scrambling to fill shifts and not stretch employees too thin is enough to make your stomach churn.
However, the consequences of these shortages are much more significant than scheduling issues.
What Are the Consequences of Assisted Healthcare Staffing Woes?
Fierce Healthcare points out that when nurses and nurse aides are overextended, they start to cut corners.
For instance, because the staff is so tired and stressed, they might forget to wash their hands or lift a frail person without help.
Taking the shortcuts causes nurses and nurse aids to harm themselves and the people they care for.
NBC’s report discussed specific issues that have arisen due to nursing staff at assisted living facilities being stretched thin, such as:
- One facility in Baltimore failed to provide medication/treatment records. Many employees have left voluntarily, while others were fired because they didn’t fill out the correct documentation.
- A Montgomery county assisted living facility saw residents waiting up to 4 hours for anybody to respond to calls for assistance. Furthermore, managers were hard to reach for family members of residents. Also, residents often didn’t receive their medications or get their undergarments changed.
Unemployment Checks are More Appealing than Unsafe Work Environments
IntelyCare, a nurse staffing agency, claims 30% of its certified nursing assistants (CNAs) have opted for unemployment checks during the pandemic, says NPR.
This trend is partially due to the CARES Act. The federal government threw an extra $600 per week onto unemployment checks. The additional benefit was made available to people fired and those who quit their jobs because of COVID-19.
Given the risks involved at assisted care facilities during the pandemic, it’s understandable that CNAs would want to stay home.
Unfortunately, according to NPR, CNAs make up 2/3rds of the workforce at the typical assisted care facility. Losing such a vast portion of their staff is causing nursing homes to task cafeteria workers and administrators to perform a certified nursing assistant’s duties.
While the current circumstances for nursing home staffing aren’t ideal, there’s still enthusiastic and skilled talent available for your facility. You just need to know where to look–which is what we specialize in at HCRI.
Contact us, and gain access to a vast pool of candidates for your assisted healthcare staffing needs during these challenging times.