Nursing homes down 221,000 jobs since start of pandemic

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The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released a report today showing long term facilities are suffering from the worst labor crisis and job loss than any other health care sector. Nursing homes alone have seen its industry’s employment level drop by 14 percent or 221,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

While hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers and other health care facilities have reached or surpassed pre-pandemic staffing levels, nursing homes and assisted living communities are still experiencing substantial job losses according to the latest October employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL said that these workforce challenges for nursing homes and assisted living communities could be attributable to multiple factors.

“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. 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. We desperately need the help of policymakers to attract and retain more caregivers, so that our nation’s most vulnerable have access to the long term care they need,” said Parkinson.

Comparing the latest BLS employment data released last week with pre-pandemic employment back in March 2020 shows nursing homes have lost the most jobs than any other health care sector.

AHCA/NCAL released a survey of long term care providers earlier this year showing that the labor crisis is worsening and impacting access to care for vulnerable seniors:

  • 86% of nursing homes and 77% of assisted living providers said their workforce situation has gotten worse in recent months
  • 58 percent of nursing homes are limiting new admissions
  • 78 percent of nursing homes and 61 percent of assisted living communities are concerned workforce challenges might force them to close

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