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COVID-19 and the nursing home staffing crisis

Post-acute facilities rely on the labor of 1.2 million health care personnel and support workers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic – which imposed unforeseen demands on nursing home and skilled nursing facility (SNF) staff – a widespread labor shortage, and the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for long-term care employees have contributed to unprecedented staffing challenges. In fact, a new survey from the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) shows that nearly every U.S. nursing home and assisted living community is facing a workforce crisis. There may be no end in sight for this staffing crisis, as data shows that 53% of long-term care workers plan to leave their jobs and find one where vaccines are not required.

Though CarePort data shows that both the registered nurse (RN) hours per resident day (RN HPRD) and total staffing hours (RN, LPN, CNA) per resident day (Total HPRD) – both ratings part of the CMS Five-Star Quality Rating System and the CarePort Quality Score – have increased since March 2020, this is only the case due to continued low occupancy in SNFs (CarePort data revealed that SNF occupancy rates were at an all-time nationwide low – 71% – in January 2021). However, patient acuity as defined by expected RN HPRD has risen over time, from 0.38 HPRD in March 2020 to 0.40 HPRD in July 2021. This increase means that while there are fewer patients in SNFs, their acuity is greater and therefore additional staff is required for their care.

In fact, the AHCA/NCAL survey shows that 99% of nursing homes are facing staffing shortages, and 86% of nursing homes report that these workforce situations have gotten worse over the last three months. 59% of nursing homes are experiencing a “high level of staffing shortages,” which have resulted – or may soon result – in serious repercussions, including:

  • Nearly every nursing home and assisted living community is asking staff to work overtime or extra shifts
  • Almost 70% of nursing homes have been forced to hire expensive agency staff
  • 58% of nursing homes are limiting new admissions
  • 78% of nursing homes are concerned workforce challenges might force them to close; more than one-third of nursing homes are “very concerned” about having to shut down the facility/facilities. This comes after 114 SNFs closed their doors in 2020.

How CarePort can help

CarePort helps post-acute facilities simplify, streamline, and automate processes so that a short-staffed workforce can better focus on patient care. CarePort analysis highlights the importance of quick and efficient referral response times: nearly half of placed patients go to the post-acute provider that responds within 15 minutes of an acute referral.

As patients continue to opt for care at home, SNFs battle decreased referrals, face census challenges, and risk facility closures. It’s essential that SNFs are equipped to quickly secure placement for the referrals they receive. Using CarePort Referral Management to facilitate faster referral responses, SNFs could see a 67% increase in new referral volume. Referral Management streamlines the referral process and increases SNF visibility to referral sources in the CarePort database to increase census and achieve better patient outcomes. SNFs can also monitor the effectiveness of their marketing activities to enhance market presence and adapt to industry needs.

As home health providers face the opposite challenge – an influx of referrals – they have more opportunity to place patients under their care, but they must be able to do so in a timely and efficient manner to secure these referrals. Using Referral Management to facilitate faster responses, home health agencies can expect a 17% increase in new referral volume. Referral Management simplifies the referral process, allowing home health providers to automatically transfer each patient’s demographic, financial, and clinical data into their clinical and financial systems – which saves time and reduces errors for home health providers currently experiencing unforeseen demand.

CarePort can help your organization in today’s challenging healthcare environment. Contact us to learn more.

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