Report calls for initiatives to curb LTC nursing shortage

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Recruiting and retaining nurses in long-term care will require initiatives from providers, as well as the local, state and federal government, according to a report released Thursday by the National Commission on Nursing Workforce for Long-Term Care.

The report, "Act Now For Your Tomorrow," includes the following recommendations for providers: Develop and implement new in-house training programs for front-line supervisors; create partnerships with local community colleges and other educational programs to provide nursing education and in-service training; and adopt new information technologies to reduce paperwork burden.

National initiatives include: Create a broad long-term care nursing workforce to support development of national policies and programs that address the long-term care nursing shortage; and develop policies that would permit states to use portions of Medicaid funds to support state and local level programs to improvement nurse recruitment and retention.

There are almost 100,000 vacant nursing staff positions on any given day, according to the report. In addition, nursing staff turnover exceeds 50% annually, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 45% demand increase for long-term care workers between 2000 and 2010.

In a related announcement, Quality Improvement Organizations will begin working this summer to help reduce staff turnover in nursing homes across the country as part of a new three-year contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contract calls for QIOs to cut nursing assistant turnover rates by at least 15% in more than 2,000 nursing homes by late 2007.