Low wages, high risk strain nursing homes’ workforce

Long-term care facilities have struggled with staff shortages for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the burden and risks of such shortages, according to news reports.

A July 6, 2021, CNN article examined the factors behind staff shortages, including recruiting challenges driven by low wages and demanding work days, and noted that workforce shortages only became worse during the pandemic. Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that staff shortages at nursing homes are “emblematic of the systemic neglect of the nursing home system” and pinpointed low wages as a critical factor behind staffing issues.

“The most important aspect of that neglect is how little nursing home workers make, especially certified nursing assistants,” Barnett said. “They are the ones who are predominantly immigrants, people of color. It’s a huge workforce and they’re really … critical for nursing home care because they’re the people who are turning people, cleaning them, helping them get up, helping feeding them, those kinds of tasks.”

Read the CNN article: Covid-19 exposed the devastating consequences of staff shortages in nursing homes. But the problem isn’t new