Mood of the Market

Even though long-term care has been at the center of the storm for the nation’s worst public health crisis in a century, the dangerous and often deadly conditions have not broken the dedication of top managers.

In fact, overall attitudes should bode well for retention rates, said one expert examining results of the 2020 McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Mood of the Market Survey.

The survey gathered responses from 381 long-term care administrators and nurse managers, who answered questions sent digitally over a week, ending in early August. The survey is a follow-up to a very similar survey involving McKnight’s readers in 2019, which did not, of course, include pandemic-related questions.

Slightly more than one-fifth (21%) of respondents said the COVID-19 crisis has “definitely” made them more likely to leave the profession, with another 8% saying “probably.” On the other end of the spectrum, however, 28% answered “no way” to the same question, while the most popular answer was “probably not” (29%).

“That means 57% of the people are liking this profession and feeling really tied to it. It really shows people like being in the long-term care industry,” observed Matt Leach, principal and senior consultant for Total Compensation Solutions of Armonk, NY. “They like helping the elderly — it’s why they’re there.”

Pandemic Mood of the Market attitude chart shows loyalty to the profession.
Survey respondents desire to stay in the profession outweighed the urge to flee it.

Nearly 14% said they were “considering it, but not sure” when asked if the pandemic made them more likely to leave the profession. 

“That means 70% might think about it but probably are staying,” Leach noted. “You have to figure these numbers are only going to come down when things come back to more normal conditions. They’ll probably never be higher than now. If they’re not leaving during a pandemic, they are going to be in this industry until they retire.”

As in the 2019 survey, respondents this year overwhelmingly found their work “very” (82%) or “somewhat” (16%) meaningful. It was the key to other sometimes surprisingly optimistic results, experts said.

Nursing homes have been the most common link to COVID-19 deaths, with some 40% or more of the 185,000 U.S. fatalities attributed to such settings. That’s according to federal figures, which are almost universally acknowledged as being low due to confusion reporting deaths and infection rates. 

Included in the nursing home-related death rate, which is pegged at about 70,000 according to some national media and healthcare-related organizations, are hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of infections involving workers, who have consistently called for more help obtaining personal protective equipment, adequate testing means and stronger national guidance and oversight.

Coming tomorrow: Pay and transfer attitudes.