221,000 Workers Have Left Nursing Homes Since March 2020

Though home health care services and hospitals have seen their employment nearly recover to pre-pandemic levels, the same cannot be said for nursing homes.

The sector has lost 221,000 jobs during the pandemic, or 14%, since March 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data through October released last week.

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) said in a statement released on Wednesday that workforce challenges for nursing homes and assisted living communities could be attributed to multiple factors.

While not as significant as nursing homes, assisted living facilities have seen substantial job loss with 38,000 jobs, or 8.2% of its workforce, lost over the course of the pandemic.

“As many caregivers are getting burned out by the pandemic, workers are leaving the field for jobs in other health care settings or other industries altogether,” Parkinson said in the press release. “Chronic Medicaid underfunding, combined with the billions of dollars providers have spent to fight the pandemic, have left long-term care providers struggling to compete for qualified staff.”

AHCA report

Parkinson would like to see the federal government and policymakers step up to help the industry attract and retain more caregivers. Some operators see streamlining visa application process for frontline staff and immigration reform ways to accomplish this by allowing more international workers to fill the worker shortage gap, but Parkinson sees immigration reform as a long shot at best, as he indicated at the fall National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) conference earlier this month.

“The political divide is just too significant,” he said during a panel. “So we’re working on some smaller activities. We’re working with the administration and there are some things that the state department can do to speed up the visa application process.”

Editor’s Note: The data referenced in this story has been adjusted. Skilled Nursing News regrets the error.

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