A new survey of nursing homes and assisted living facilities finds most continue to struggle with staffing issues after a year-long pandemic.

The report, conducted by the American Health care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, finds:

• 94% of nursing home providers said they have had a shortage of staff members in the last month. In assisted living communities, 81% said they had similar staffing shortages.

• More than half of nursing home and assisted living providers lost key members of their staff last year during the pandemic due to workers quitting, including among certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or direct caregivers and dietary staff.

• Almost 75% of nursing homes and nearly 60% of assisted living communities said their overall workforce situation has gotten worse since 2020.

Andy Aronson, the president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, said the national statistics are representative of what is happening in the Garden State and improving the salaries and benefits of workers will help facilities recruit and retain staff members.

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“We can’t underestimate or understate how much appreciation we have for those workers, especially coming out of this pandemic," he said. “Our appreciation for them isn’t just shown in the amount of money that they’re paid on an hourly basis, it’s also work environment and the entire structure of how we create a career path.”

Aronson said the goal is to get nursing home workers “better salaries and better benefits and better work environment ... it’s a really big structural issue and it’s something we’re dedicated to working on.”

He said what is needed is a revamped state Medicaid payment system that provides incentives to increase direct-care staff pay or training.

He said a Medicaid rate study to be conducted by the New Jersey Department of Human Services will examine how much is paid to facilities through Medicaid and how those payments are made.

Aronson said the Health Care Association of New Jersey will work with DHS to show how “creating a better payment system can really help our industry and help address some of these problems.”

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