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Virginia nursing homes are struggling to stay staffed

A nursing home resident receives a COVID-19 booster shot.
Seth Wenig
A nursing home resident receives a COVID-19 booster shot.

2021 was not an easy year to work in a nursing home. But it turns out 2022 was worse. According to a recent survey, 4 in 5 nursing home facility directors say they’re still facing difficulty in filling jobs and shifts.

Amy Hewett is with the Virginia Health Care Association. They recently surveyed Virginia nursing homes and assisted living facilities and found that staffing shortages got worse in 2022 not better. Facility directors say they’re struggling to find nurses and nursing assistants.

“What these hiring and workforce challenges have meant is really that facilities are limiting admissions,” Hewett said.

That means people looking for nursing home care may have trouble finding a placement. The good news is that these trends may finally be starting to reverse.

“The rock bottom of low employment in our sector was earlier this year and there has been this slight upward tick,” she said. “Although recovery is much slower in this sector than other areas, say hospitality and retail.”

9 in 10 facilities say they’re increasing pay, and 8 in 10 say they’re offering bonuses for overtime or double shifts.

But the majority of nursing home residents pay through Medicaid, which makes it tough for facilities to compete with private hospitals and other parts of the healthcare industry when it comes to staff pay. Hewett says higher Medicaid reimbursement rates would help.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.