Senior Living’s Staffing Woes Amid Mandate and Lawmaker Disputes

The senior housing industry continues to face a critical staffing shortage, which has been making headlines thanks in part to the proposed staffing mandate and issues relating to temporary nursing staff agencies. Last month we took a closer look at the Biden administration’s staffing mandate, a piece of legislation that has been met with mixed reviews as operators worry about the impact on rural communities and smaller facilities. 

On Thursday, April 20, national union leaders and several members of Congress met to discuss concerns surrounding the distribution and use of federal funds as it relates to staffing. During the meeting, lawmakers called out the American Health Care Association (AHCA), claiming they are stopping the mandate from going through. However, AHCA has been outspoken about the fact they are not against bringing on more staff, but the reality of the current labor market and workforce paints a different picture. 

This is an important callout and an issue plaguing a wide range of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and SNFs, specifically in less urbanized areas, such as in Montana and the Pacific North West. 

The Demographic Shift and Staffing Shortage 

The main reason for the staffing shortage is the demographic shift of the healthcare workforce. Many nurses and caretakers left the industry during the pandemic, and it has proven to be incredibly difficult to replace those workers with qualified workers. According to the AHCA, the U.S. will need to hire an estimated 13 million nurses by 2030 to support the number of Americans needing care. It should also be noted that senior housing is not the only industry experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry continues to feel the impact of the pandemic and has yet to recover. 

An Update on the Proposed Staffing Mandate

As briefly mentioned above, the proposed staffing mandate continues to make headlines. Several unionized senior living facilities have been pushing for the mandate to increase staffing levels, which is desperately needed. Yet, industry groups have pushed back, once again pointing to the lack of qualified caretakers in the labor pool. 

Temporary Staffing Agencies Causing Disruption

Another topic that was touched upon during the April 20 meeting between lawmakers and senior living representatives was the impact of temporary nursing staffing agencies. While the notion of these agencies is to provide short-term staffing support, many argue they’ve contributed to the labor shortage by incentivizing workers to leave permanent positions for higher-paying temporary placements. 

The bottom line is that temporary staffing agencies are not a sustainable long-term solution, and there are numerous factors to consider before a blanket staffing mandate should be implemented. We will continue to keep a close eye on these ongoing discussions. Ultimately, the goal of the senior living industry is to provide high-quality care for seniors. Curious about our current inventory of senior housing? The Sherman & Roylance team would love to connect with you to discuss your options and anticipated market conditions.