Just 1% of nursing homes throughout the United States say they are currently fully staffed, according to a new survey by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

The findings show just how dire workforce challenges are for the industry, which has struggled to recover jobs nationwide, similar to how other healthcare counterparts have.

| See the results of the AHCA/NCAL survey of assisted living providers here. |

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they’re currently experiencing high level staffing shortages, 30% said they have moderate shortages and 10% said they have low level shortages. 

In response to the workforce gaps, 99% of nursing homes said they’ve asked current staff to work overtime or extra shifts. Nearly 70% have hired temporary agency staff, and 58% have had to limit new admissions. 

“I’ve been in the industry for 40 years and I’ve never seen it this bad,” Terry Robertson, CEO of Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood, WA, recently told the Wall Street Journal. “We turned down 138 admissions from hospitals last month because we didn’t have the staff to open another unit.”  

Nearly 70% of nursing also rated their ability to hire new staff as very difficult, while 28% rated it as somewhat difficult. Just 3% rated it as somewhat easy or very easy. 

A lack of interested or qualified candidates and unemployment benefits discouraging people were cited as the two biggest obstacles for hiring new staff, the survey also found. Other obstacles included the current financial situation/lack of funding to offer more competitive wages, vaccination requirements and fear of contracting COVID-19. 

Lastly, the survey found that 78% of all nursing homes are concerned about having to close if workforce challenges persist. Three Maine nursing homes earlier this month announced their pending closures, citing staffing challenges and the ongoing pandemic. 

“Too many facilities are struggling to hire and retain staff that are needed to serve millions of vulnerable residents,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said in a statement. 

“We cannot allow facilities to close because of these challenges, which will directly impact residents and their families, especially when lawmakers have the means to help solve this dire situation,” he added.

The survey featured responses from 1,038 nursing homes and 145 assisted living providers. For details on how assisted living providers responded to the survey, see McKnight’s Senior Living.