Accusations that nursing home administrators are spending 20% less time with residents and on-site miss the mark, said two people who closely observe top facility staff.

The claims come from the Long-Term Care Community Coalition, which used federal payroll-based journal data to extrapolate  that the average amount of time administrators spent at SNFs dropped from 8.44 hours per day in the third quarter of 2019 to 6.17 hours per day in the same quarter in 2022. 

In addition, at least half of all US nursing homes lost at least one administrator over the previous 12 months and at least 2,100 facilities lost at least two administrators, the group said.

“Nursing homes are rarely held accountable when they put profits over the safety of their residents and staff,” the coalition said in its email announcing their Q3 Staffing Report. It included an “important note” that pokes at industry lobbyists for claiming they need additional resources to meet staffing minimums when “inadequate staffing has been a persistent problem for decades.”

But Bob Lane, president of the American College of Health Care Administrators, said the report is based on self-reported provider data, which opens the door for reporting inconsistencies that can paint an inaccurate picture.

“The data reported may not be entirely accurate,” Lane told McKnights Long-Term Care News Friday. “The report notes that inadequate staffing has existed for decades, which is true, however I would argue this is not attributable to providers putting profits over residents and staff, but chronic underfunding of Medicaid in virtually every state.”

Lane also pointed to administrator burnout from the last three years as a possible reason for why there are staffing vacancies. Some 52% of administrators considered leaving their jobs in the three months prior, according to the McKnights’ 2022 Mood of the Market survey, which gathered info in July and August and was published in September. 

“The physical and emotional toll has placed undue strain on them and our profession,” Lane said. “They have been thrust into an unwanted spotlight and often vilified into the media … Subject to a conflicting and changing regulatory environment, without adequate staffing and with ever-changing directives from local, state, and national agencies, these leaders have been on the job throughout it all.”

A December study from researchers at Brown and Harvard universities found that administrators were “fully committed” to their facilities but the pandemic created significant levels of stress managing restrictions, new government rules, and the sector’s viability. 

An executive staffing recruiter who works with providers also disputed the numbers and reminded that even when there’s administrator turnover, facilities must have licensed administrators.“ In no way do I think administrators are or can even think about, spending less time in their buildings,” said Kate Piperata to McKnights Friday, adding that the hours aren’t decreasing but rather being spread out over more residents as facility populations increase.