Opinion: State lawmakers need to act to fix staggering workforce shortage at nursing homes
The situation is dire: In just one month in late 2022, staffing shortages forced long-term care organizations across the state to decline over 11,000 referrals for individuals needing care.
I am honored to dedicate my career to caring for aging Minnesotans. I feel truly blessed to go to work each day to serve our residents, their families, and the dedicated caregivers who provide safe, quality care day in and day out.
While we’ve survived significant challenges together over the last few years, a new crisis has emerged in our industry. Our sector is facing a staggering workforce shortage. According to the Long-Term Care Imperative, there are nearly 20,000 vacant caregiver positions in senior living settings across the state, with a disproportionate impact on rural areas.
Perham Living is still able to meet the needs for individuals with short-term and rehabilitative needs, but access to long-term beds is severely limited. We have taken 17 long-term care beds out of service, not because of lack of need, but strictly due to our inability to staff those beds while continuing to provide the quality care that our residents deserve.
This leaves seniors and families from our community with nowhere to turn. Seniors have earned the right to receive the care they need, when and where they need it, close to their loved ones.
This concern is not isolated to our community. In just one month in late 2022, staffing shortages forced long-term care organizations across the state to decline over 11,000 referrals for individuals needing care.
To hire and retain great caregivers, skilled nursing facilities across the state need to pay a competitive wage. Perham Living is unique in having the support of the hospital which allows us greater financial flexibility and the ability to pay our staff higher wages than standalone long-term care organizations; however, having a significant portion of the organization operating at a loss is not sustainable.
With nursing home rates set by state lawmakers, many long-term care organizations across the state are unable to pay qualified staff a living wage. Many employees are passionate about aging services but are forced to pursue better-paying healthcare jobs to take care of their own families’ needs.
State leaders set reimbursement rates for care, so our ability to pay caregivers a respectable wage and provide access to senior care in our area is at the mercy of our local legislators.
We appreciate Sen. Jordan Rasmusson’s attention to seniors and their caregivers. As a member of the Human Services Committee, he plays an important role in making sure these issues receive the attention they deserve this session. Please use your voice to reach out to your lawmakers to ensure seniors have access to the care they need and our dedicated caregivers are paid the wages they deserve.