Senior Housing Staffing Issues Persist

Senior housing operators continue to face labor challenges brought on by the pandemic. More than two years since the start of the pandemic, staffing is still a major concern for senior living. Sherman & Roylance’s George Bingham tells us, “the pandemic served to exacerbate what was already the most severe challenge facing senior living operators nationwide: staffing.” According to a recent survey conducted by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, 83% of senior living and SNF operators say attracting community and caregiving staff has been difficult. Not only was the industry among the hardest hit when COVID-19 landed, but it put enormous stress on existing staff and made recruiting and training even more difficult than usual, notes Bingham. 
What does all this mean for the industry? For starters, operators that embrace emerging technologies and adapt to where the industry is going, rather than where it’s been, are primed for recovery. Before we look at some of the ways operators must adapt in order to move past staffing woes, let’s see what the numbers are saying. 

By the Numbers 

We know both senior housing occupancy and inventory are trending upwards, which is certainly a good sign for the industry. According to NIC, operators across the nation reported an increase in the pace of move-ins, which is an encouraging sign. However, experts warn how important it is to tune into what incoming residents are looking for, as traditional housing models are outdated
Here are a few helpful stats from the NIC that may help paint a clearer picture of how senior housing has been impacted by the labor shortage:
  • 63% of SNF operators cite staff turnover as a top challenge.
  • 77% of surveyed operators identify moderate staffing shortages as an ongoing problem.
  • Severe staffing shortages dropped to 16%, compared to 19% in April and May.
  • Operators report that 11% to 20% of full-time positions still need to be filled.
  • Operating expenses are 41% higher than they were in 2021.
  • 37% of respondents say staffing issues is causing them to operate at a loss.
  • 41% of operators said they were “not concerned at all” about the possibility of shutting down due to labor woes, yet 32% said they were “somewhat concerned” and 16% are “very concerned.”

Operators Must Evolve to Counter Staffing Woes  

Like many other industries, senior living continues to adapt to life after COVID-19. As noted by Bingham, “it remains to be seen how staffing challenges may impact new developments going forward.” Furthermore, “the use of emerging technologies such as sensors and telemedicine may be one important consequence, as they can enhance the productivity of existing staff.” This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve talked about how critical technology is to the future of the industry. If operators are going to keep occupancy up and attract the next generation of seniors, they must pay close attention to the positive impact technology is having on the industry. 
Looking for an opportunity to invest in senior housing, or interested in selling a property? Reach out to the Sherman & Roylance team for more information.