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AARP: A third of the nation’s nursing homes are facing staffing shortages

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - One out of every three nursing homes in Alabama has a staffing shortage.

This figure matches up with new data which shows a third of nursing homes in the U.S. need more nurses and aides.

Analysts said this is the worst staffing shortage since the government started keeping such records related to COVID-19 back in May of last year.

AARP took a closer look at the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes and found that nearly a third of them reported staffing shortages.

This is especially concerning right now as many of these facilities are still battling COVID-19.

Experts said Alabama has had a nursing home staffing problem for many years and the problem was only made worse by the pandemic.

The Alabama Nursing Home Association said applicants must pass a criminal background check and cannot have a record of abuse or neglect of an elderly or disabled person.

Individuals must also pass drug screenings.

A spokesman from the association said these requirements make for a shallow applicant pool.

AARP said even when nursing homes are fully staffed there are challenges, but low staffing levels can lead to poor outcomes for residents.

“About 37% of Alabama’s nursing homes are self-reporting staff shortages. So, that’s a very concerning issue for us because it relates directly to the quality of patient care that’s happening and the safety of the patients in those facilities. That means few staff taking care of more patients and that’s not a safe situation for anyone,” said Jamie Harding with AARP.

“Nursing homes are not immune from the workforce pressures that all other businesses are facing. However, we’re being very proactive. We’ve got a number of initiatives at the statewide level at our association that we’re working on that are seeking to alleviate the workforce stresses, and of course every individual nursing home has its own programs where they’re seeking to hire workers,” said John Matson with the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

The association said nursing homes are also dealing with staffing shortages by limiting the number of new residents at facilities to ensure patient care remains optimal.

In more welcoming news, the association said more than 80% of residents in Alabama nursing homes are fully vaccinated and 70% of staff have completed a vaccine series.

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