Long-term care facilities staffing at ’emergency levels’
Staffing at places like nursing home has reached a critical low point
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Health care professionals say staffing levels at long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, are at emergency level lows. The Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities (KAHCF) and the Kentucky Center for Assisted Living (KCAL) met in Frankfort Wednesday to testify before the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Wellness and Family Services.
“It was an issue before COVID and it’s at an emergency level now,” says Betsy Johnson, president of KAHCF.
Since February 2020, the long-term care industry has lost just over 5,500 jobs, which is about 16% less people working this industry in the state. But why are so many people leaving?
“The reason is, it’s hard work. It was hard work before COVID but it’s even harder now,” says Johnson.
KAHCF says COVID took a toll on healthcare providers, from PTSD with the number of hospitalizations and deaths seen in long-term care to mental health struggles to a lack of funding for pay to keep up with inflation.
“It’s a true calling so you have to bring people in and then you have to be able to retain those individuals, which a lot of times we don’t have the tools to do because we don’t have the financial resources to compete with the private sector,” says Johnson.
According to KAHCF, people can start working at a long-term care facility as a nurse aid at 18, no college degree needed, just a training course with a test at the end.
“We need to start those training opportunities and testing opportunities with our high schoolers because the community college system simply can’t handle the amount of people that we need to bring in to the workforce,” says Johnson.
KAHCF says unlike other industries, long-term care facilities can’t just close a dining room because it’s short staffed.
“Robots can’t do those jobs, we need live individuals. It’s not only the direct care staff, it’s also dietary and maintenance and the front office staff,” says Johnson. “We need those people in our buildings.”
KAHCF says it will be testifying before the Medicaid Oversight Committee August 10th to address federal funding not changing to reflect inflation and higher cost of business.