While most senior living operators across the country are still seeing worker shortages, conditions seem to be improving overall.
That’s according to a new survey from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, which included responses from owners and executives of 39 small, medium, and large senior housing and care companies. Responses were collected between June 1 and July 5.
More than three-quarters of the respondents – 82% – said their organization was still seeing staffing shortages overall. But that number is markedly lower than what executives said in surveys conducted over the last 18 months, when between 90% and 99% of respondents reported staffing shortages.
Similarly, about one-fifth of the latest survey’s respondents said that between 0% and 5% of their full-time positions are still open, an increase compared to April, when only 5% of the survey’s respondents said the same thing.
“This represents a four-fold increase over the past two months in the number of organizations reporting the lowest range for vacancies in full-time positions,” wrote survey report author and NIC Senior Principal Ryan Brooks.
The newest survey results are “noteworthy” given all of the industry’s staffing challenges since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brooks noted.
About half of the respondents noted that they had returned to pre-pandemic occupancy levels in their independent living units (47%), with 37% reporting the same of memory care units. Just under a third – 30% – of respondents in assisted living reported returning to pre-pandemic occupancy.
As for why senior living companies are still seeing staffing shortages, 48% cited an inability to hire nurses as a top reason, followed by an inability to hire nursing aide positions (42%), wage competition (35%), and staff turnover rates (29%).
Almost half of respondents (44%) said they expect their staffing challenges to improve in the second half of 2023. Another 15% said the same about the first half of 2024, while 26% said they did not expect to see staffing challenges improving until the second half of that year. Another 13% said they expect staffing challenges to let up in the second half of 2025 or later.
The NIC survey is similar to other recent data reports showing improvements in staffing. For example, LivingPath, an online platform that provides pricing and other data for senior housing communities, in May released data showing that senior living vacancies have decreased since the pandemic started.
At the same time, many senior living operators have reported substantially trimming or eliminating use of agency labor in 2022 and 2023.
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