Survey Reveals Critical Workforce Challenges in Senior Care Sector

A recent survey has uncovered severe workforce challenges facing the long-term care industry, highlighting staffing shortages and the pressing need for qualified professionals. This discovery points to the urgent necessity for innovative solutions to ensure the continued care and support of the aging population.

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Survey Reveals Critical Workforce Challenges in Senior Care Sector
4 Min Read March 5th, 2024

A new survey by ShiftKey and OnShift involving 1,700 U.S. leaders in senior care facilities has shed light on the pressing challenges and needs within the industry. The survey's goal was to better understand the current struggles and future hurdles of senior care, revealing a sector under pressure from rising demands and workforce shortages.

Key findings include:

  • A majority of long-term care facility operators are struggling to meet staffing requirements:
    • 61% reported difficulties in hiring qualified full-time staff.
    • 44% had issues with employee retention, while only 22% found it easy.
    • 47% struggled with maintaining consistent staffing for resident care needs.
  • Many are resorting to training employees for multiple roles (84%) and offering shift bonuses (83%), with 88% noting employee burnout and 97% incurring overtime costs.
  • There's a significant interest in technology for flexible scheduling to address these issues, with 54% desiring more flexible shift options in workforce management tools.
  • Additionally, 74% believe hiring independent professionals could aid occupancy growth, with noted benefits including reduced turnover, employee burnout, and unfilled shifts.

Staff Shortages Ahead of "Silver Tsunami"

This survey comes at a crucial time, as the nursing workforce faces significant departures, with 100,000 nurses leaving since the pandemic began and an anticipated 800,000 more expected to exit by 2027. This reduction in staffing, coupled with the approaching "silver tsunami" of Americans turning 65 in 2024, highlights the urgent need for the long-term care industry to find solutions to these workforce challenges to care for an aging population adequately.

Labor shortages in the long-term care sector are becoming a critical issue, exacerbating the challenges of an already strained system. The rising demand for care, driven by an aging population, is colliding with increasing labor shortages, leading to escalating costs for long-term care services. 

Higher Costs and Lack of Insurance Benefits

This combination of greater need for long-term care services and labor shortages is compounded by the fact that the majority of long-term care expenses are typically covered by individuals' income and savings and not by insurance.

For those with Long-Term Care Insurance, the policy can alleviate much of the financial pressure and burden on loved ones, but you must have a policy in place before you require care due to underwriting rules

Traditional health insurance, including Medicare, will only pay for short-term skilled services. Medicaid offers a safety net for long-term care but only for individuals with minimal income and assets, a qualification that many strive to avoid due to the implications for their financial independence and legacy.

As costs continue to climb, many families find themselves in a difficult position. The cost of long-term care services varies widely depending on location and the level, and type of services required. These costs are increasing at a rapid pace.

Family Caregivers Step in When No Other Options Available

The financial burden of paying for professional long-term care services out of pocket can quickly deplete savings, pushing some to rely on Medicaid despite its limitations. However, due to the high costs and in an effort to preserve assets, many families opt to provide care themselves. 

This often means that family members, frequently adult children, must become caregivers, sacrificing their time, careers, and personal well-being. This decision has significant emotional and physical repercussions on caregivers and care recipients.

The labor shortages in the long-term care sector only compound these challenges. With fewer professionals available to provide care, the cost of hiring qualified staff increases, which in turn raises the overall cost of long-term care services. This cycle of rising demand and shrinking labor pools puts additional strain on families, making it even harder to access affordable and quality care. 

The situation underscores the need for comprehensive solutions that address both the labor shortages and the financial mechanisms supporting long-term care, ensuring that families are not forced into difficult caregiving roles by default.

Awareness of LTC Insurance

More and more people are aware of the growing need to plan for future long-term care. LTC Insurance has become a greater part of retirement planning. Most people start planning in their 40s or 50s, but affordable LTC Insurance options are available in your 60s and beyond, depending on health.

Given the rising cost of long-term care and labor shortages for home health care providers and facility staff, including professionals like nurses, rising costs will continue to be an issue for decades to come. 

ShiftKey is a technology company addressing strategic workforce solutions. OnShift, a ShiftKey brand, offers an integrated suite of software and services designed to reduce turnover rates, decrease costs, and improve the quality and continuity of care. 

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Incorporating Long-Term Care Insurance into a thorough retirement strategy is becoming widely acknowledged as essential for ensuring a secure and comfortable future. However, long-term care is more than just about money, as the consequences place a tremendous burden on adult children who often become caregivers. 

Long-Term Care Insurance emerges as a crucial solution to this issue, providing comprehensive coverage, including home care, assisted living, and nursing home facilities. A key benefit of an LTC policy is the ability to choose the type of care you receive and the setting, leaving you in control and giving time for your loved ones to be family.

The time to get coverage is before you have significant health issues that often accompany aging. Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s, but affordable options are available in their 60s and older, depending on your level of health. 

Be sure to seek an experienced, independent Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage that matches your age, health, and other factors. An LTC specialist will provide accurate quotes from all the top-rated insurance companies that offer long-term care solutions. This way, you can make an informed decision. 

Find the Long-Term Care Services that Match Your Loved One's Needs

The LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory is a helpful tool when looking for caregivers for older family members. You can search from among over 80,000 listings nationwide. The directory from LTC NEWS makes it easy to find quality caregivers or long-term care facilities. You can look for caregivers or facilities near where you or your loved one lives and learn about their qualifications and options. And the best part is, it's free to use!

If you are a care provider, claim your free listing and even upgrade your listing (at a modest charge) - Visit the LTC News Directory Business Portal

For those with an LTC policy, LTC NEWS can help process claims from any Long-Term Care Insurance policy. LTC NEWS, in partnership with Amada Senior Care, a nationally recognized in-home health care agency, ensures that you and your loved ones receive the quality care you deserve with the money from your LTC policy. This service comes at no cost or obligation - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.

These four LTC NEWS guides will assist you in trying to find appropriate long-term services for a loved one:

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