Staffing struggles continue at historic levels, according to a new national survey of long-term care providers, some of whom acknowledge they are being forced to turn to fewer options to cover their workforce needs.

A majority of respondents are dealing with significant staffing shortages, with several needing to hire at least 50% more workers to become fully staffed, according to findings detailed by LeadingAge on Monday.

Providers are relying heavily on temporary or agency staff. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they are using those services to fill vacancies. 

One nursing home respondent shared that 75% of their shifts were filled with agency staff. Several respondents commented they are unable to use temporary or agency staff, “because agencies do not have available staff, or providers can’t get contracts at a reasonable price,” according to LeadingAge. 

“It was also noted that agency staff are also sadly not dependable; attendance issues are much more common and agency staff might not show up,” the organization said. 

Providers reported that certified nursing assistants were the most difficult for them to recruit. Next hardest were registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. 

They’re also having trouble retaining workers, with 75% of respondents reporting that better pay is a reason why workers are leaving their organizations. 

More than 3 in 5 (62%) of respondents cited “avoidance of taking the vaccine” as the reason staff members were leaving the organization.

“ … though it must be noted that providers that have implemented their own mandates report that far fewer staff actually leave compared to those who talk about it when they hear about mandates,” LeadingAge reported. 

Other reasons workers are leaving include burnout or stress, unemployment benefits being better than current pay rates, and the pursuit of non-medical jobs.