Understaffing in Nursing Homes
The current economic climate has made it difficult for many people to find jobs, which makes it even more astounding that there is such a significant shortage of nursing home workers. The bottom line is that nursing home assignments are undesirable, and until that changes, staffing in nursing homes will not improve. In fact, the industry estimates that the situation will get much worse with no end in sight.
Baby Boomers Leading Longer Lives
A factor in this problem is that improved medicine and technology is leading to longer lives. More baby boomers are requiring nursing home care, and they are requiring it for a longer period, than any generation before them. The industry expects the problem to get even worse with future generations.
Undesirable Working Environments
The problem is exacerbated because the pool of nursing home workers isn’t just static but rather shrinking. Industry surveys of people who have worked at a nursing home but no longer do indicate that those people were unsatisfied with it as a long-term career option. Changing that perception then is the key to better staffing in nursing homes.
Wages Too Low
Firstly, much of this dissatisfaction is attributable to the fact that the average rate for nursing home workers is approximately $12 an hour. It may seem like a fair wage, but as minimum wages rise, there are an increasing number of jobs close to that rate that are not nearly as demanding. The obvious solution is to increase wages, but nursing homes are struggling for money as it is. Furthermore, the industry has to be careful not to simply attract people for the wrong reasons. A good nursing home worker is a special kind of person.
Benefits and Long-Term Security Not Enough
Many nursing home jobs ironically lack adequate medical insurance and dental insurance, and perhaps the majority lack a 401k plan or similar mechanism. Working at a nursing home is a tough job, and if you want people to make that kind of commitment, then it is necessary to give them the peace of mind of being secure when they are longer able to perform the job.
Workers Worked Too Hard
The staffing issue in nursing homes is somewhat of a Catch-22. Current nursing home professionals are overworked, and many leave for this exact reason. However, the overworking occurs largely because the nursing homes are undermanned. This has continued so long that it is becoming difficult to return to balance.
High Injury Rates
There is also the issue of high injury rates at nursing homes. We don’t tend to think of nursing homes as dangerous environments, but statistically, nursing homes are up there with other dangerous assignments, including construction. Nursing homes must find a way to be safer and ways to serve their employees better when injury does occur.
The current situation of staffing in nursing homes is nasty one that is continuing to grow. There is no easy solution, and it will require a concerted industry-wide effort to overcome it.