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Staffing Shortages In Senior Living

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Mid-pandemic economic challenges have truly impacted the labor market, leaving many businesses struggling to find and retain qualified employees. Inevitably, the customer’s experience is impacted by the availability, or the lack of resources. Most business have been coerced to adapt by asking current employees to embrace additional responsibilities. This inadvertently contributes to burnout and more turnover. While it may deliver a product, the service experience continues to suffer. For most businesses, cutting service hours and expectations have become the norm to better balance business and personal priorities.

The healthcare sector however remains in a critical impasse. That restaurant may have revised the menu or change operating hours, but healthcare providers and licensed Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities are very limited with these options. Consider the fact that these providers have also been at the front lines of Covid-19 battles, the remaining staff is already exhausted and at the verge of a real burn out.

For the residents and family members of these communities, the hard reality and the impacts of the labor shortages may not be a point of negotiation. After all, health, safety and well-being of the patients and resident require that the appropriate resources are always available. Regulations also require that the appropriate resource to meet all the residents’ needs are available to retain residents.

Most communities have mitigated staffing shortages by using agency or interim staffing. It is not an ideal scenario for the community or the resident. The agency staff don’t have the established trust and relationships with the resident. They do not know the care patterns, preferences, likes, or dislikes. Communities can also not hold the supplemental agency staff accountable to its own standards and policies. These have a general tendency to negatively impact the quality of the care. On the other hand, residents and family members should realize that the cost of agency staffing is astronomical! Communities can easily triple their labor costs by using agency staffing and this cost is seldom passed onto the customers.

If a community is utilizing agency staff, it is because they simply must do whatever is necessary to ensure resident’s needs are met. Operators are aware of the trade-off in quality care and the high costs. Residents and family members should not shun away from these communities, rather realize that operationally, they are doing all they can to ensure the resources to meet resident’s needs are available.


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