Congressional lawmakers moving ahead with President Joe Biden’s pledge to send $400 billion to provide toward home- and community-based services could “pay huge dividends” for the entire long-term care industry — including nursing homes struggling with workforce. 

George Linial

“The pandemic sort of uncovered some things about frontline staff having to work in multiple organizations in order to make ends meet,” said George Linial, president and CEO of LeadingAge Texas. 

There’s got to be a livable wage and it’s got to be a respected profession. I think all those things in tandem can really improve the quality of long-term care overall,” he added. ““We think that the investment in the long-term care workforce is going to pay huge dividends.” 

Linial’s comments came during a press conference hosted by LeadingAge on Tuesday in response to current congressional negotiations as lawmakers finalize a $3.5 billion reconciliation package. The proposal is expected to include Biden’s $400 billion for HCBS, according to LeadingAge. 

More government funding would infuse all sectors of long-term care, and not just home care, providers stressed during the press call. 

Linial said a recent survey among his organization’s members revealed that 60% are unable to hire enough nurses, 70% are unable to hire enough certified nursing assistants and two-thirds are unable to hire enough dining staff. 

Additionally, about 60% of members have had to use agency staff within the last six months. 

“That has a profound impact on quality. The consistent staffing, the same people caring for the same people, has a profound impact on quality,” Linial said. “It puts that much more pressure on the remaining staff that are there to take care of residents and it just compounds the problem.”

Carol Silver Elliott, LeadingAge’s board chairwoman and president and CEO of New Jersey-based Jewish Family Home, said it’s important legislators realize funding is important to providing quality care. 

“We are talking about the lives of the most vulnerable in the hands of people that we’re not compensating at an appropriate rate,” Silver Elliott said. “It really is disturbing and it keeps people from entering the field [and] it keeps people from looking at this as a career.”