The operating environment continues to be a struggle for long-term care providers, despite recent occupancy gains, thanks to widespread labor and staffing shortages — and it will likely remain that way for at least the next one to two years, Invesque executives predicted Thursday.
“We’re confident that the demand for our product type over the next few years is coming full steam ahead as the 80-plus demographic continues to move in our favor,” Invesque Chairman and CEO Scott White said during a third-quarter earnings call. “But solving the staffing challenge for now and in the years to come is a critical piece of the industry puzzle.”
White noted that the many stakeholders are having the conversation of when the industry will return to its pre-COVID environment. He added that while he doesn’t have a definitive answer to that question he knows “it’s not going to happen very quickly.”
“I do think that it’s important for all of our constituents and stakeholders to understand is that, yes, COVID cases are down substantially … and, yes, occupancy is growing considerably,” he said. “So those are all positive trends.”
“But with that, I think we’re going to be grappling with this labor issue for quite some time now,” White added.
Company executives reported that its operators are trying to combat the shortages with various incentives, including sign-on bonus, and have had to use more agency staff but they remain optimistic their providers can overcome the challenge.
“Once again, they’re worried about it, but they’re optimistic with their plan and they think they’re going to be able to overcome it over the next 12 to 24 months,” Chief Investment Officer Adlai Chester said during the call.
White added that he believes labor issues are going to work their way through the system in the “not too distant future.”
“It’s not going to be this year. It’s not going to be early in the new year,” White said. “I think in the next 12 to 18 months, you’re going to have a natural pendulum swing in the economy, which is going to take the labor issues the other way.”