It’s no secret that nursing homes dealt with challenges in staffing from COVID-19. A study released last week in JAMA Network Open aimed to better understand how nursing home administrators thought about staffing during the pandemic, how they responded to the obstacles and how they fared.  

No surprise here: Staff shortages during the pandemic strained operations. 

The authors looked at 40 nursing homes in the United States to see how they were staffed during the pandemic. Joan F. Brazier, a researcher from Brown University’s School of Public Health in Providence, RI, led the research. The team conducted four interviews every three months between July 2020 and December 2021. They also looked at payroll data in eight different markets. Data came from the National Payroll Based Journal, and they examined it to understand national trends at 15,436 nursing homes in the country. 

The data showed that nursing home communities used more agencies for staffing and had to reduce hours as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The shortages meant they could not accept new residents, which hurts financial well-being in the future.

The administrators said they faced staffing shortages during the pandemic and used different compensation strategies to cope. These tactics included adding overtime, shifting staff-to-resident ratios, relying on agencies for staffers, and limiting new residents.

As a result of more overtime pay, increased costs for agency staff and less revenue from new admissions, nursing homes took a financial hit on top of dealing with operational costs during the pandemic. 

“More mixed-methods research is needed to better understand the long-term outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic associated with nursing home staffing …” the authors wrote. “Policymakers should consider reviewing current nursing home regulations around staffing and work with nursing home administrators to create policies that more nimbly adjust to crisis management.”