Tough Trend: Long-term care facilities face staffing shortages

Local News

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living report nationwide employment levels dropped by 14%, or 221,000 jobs, since the beginning of the pandemic in the industry.

Some Northeast Wisconsin long-term care facilities are also experiencing this trend. The staff at Oakwood Manor, which is part of the Goodlife Assisted Living network, has been doing as best as they can throughout the pandemic.

The staff has worked longer hours under the stress of everything that was going on during the pandemic to try to provide the best care possible.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and the last year and a half has been the most challenging I’ve ever dealt with,” explained Tim Burns, Program Director for Goodlife Assisted Living.

Burns says staffing shortages are a real problem right now. He says they are down 25 to 30% in terms of how many staff members they have now compared to usual.

The pandemic is one factor that is making it hard to recruit and retain staff.

“There’s a burnout factor, people can’t continue to do this,” added Burns.

Burns says inadequate pay is another reason it’s tough to get staff. He says he’d like to see the Wisconsin legislature expand Medicaid, which he says would allow nursing homes and assisted living facilities to pay their staff better salaries.

He explains that the wages he is able to pay right now aren’t competitive and people are taking service and retail jobs that pay the same amount but are less demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Oakwood Manor doesn’t have vaccine mandates right now for its staff, instead, they test those who aren’t vaccinated. Industry experts say that facilities that do have vaccine mandates could exacerbate staffing shortages further.

“Vaccine mandates are something that we are concerned about and looking in to and I think as they are rolled out we’ll see caregivers leave the industry,” said Mike Pochowski, President and CEO of Wisconsin’s Assisted Living Association.

Officials with the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living says the long-term care industry is facing the worst job loss among all health care providers

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