Even before the pandemic began, many New Jersey long-term care facilities were understaffed, but over the past 22 months things have gotten worse.
âOther sectors of the economy may have come back, but our industry is struggling,â said Andy Aronson, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey.
A recent American Health Association survey found that more than nine in ten long-term care facilities are unable to find as many workers as they need.
What does it mean?
Aronson said that when there were no workers to fill the positions, many providers simply “not have to take on new residents, so a facility that may want to operate at 90% occupancy may fail. operate only at an occupancy level of 70%. “
He said if the problem continues to worsen, it will eventually create “an access problem for people who need the services.”
Aronson said that for those who are currently in a facility, they are receiving the care they need.
âThe people who are in the establishment are cared for. They shouldn’t notice that there are fewer workers in the building. What we are finding, however, is that providers cannot treat so many people because they do not have the staff.
Why is the labor shortage so serious?
It’s no secret that working in a nursing home or assisted living facility doesn’t pay well and depending on the circumstances the work itself can be quite difficult.
Aronson said nursing homes and assisted living service providers are trying to attract new workers, but a big part of the problem is that “we don’t have a reimbursement structure, a payment structure in New Jersey which allows our establishments to pay workers at competitive market rates. “
He said that about 70% of the funding for these salaries comes from Medicaid and that “these Medicaid rates in New Jersey are unfortunately not flexible enough to allow us to attract workers to a market where wages are rising by about 10% per year “.
He said efforts were underway to convince lawmakers to make much-needed changes.
âOur Medicaid payment system is so run down here in New Jersey. It puts us at a disadvantage even compared to other states. We need to work with our decision makers in Trenton and talk to them about the issues, âAronson said.
they deserve better
Aronson stressed that nursing homes and home helpers are essential for the Garden State.
âThese workers were heroic during the pandemic. They came to work every day. They took great care of people,â Aronson said. âThey put themselves at risk by working in healthcare facilities during a pandemic to do a great job for people.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at [email protected]