COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with our nation’s long-term care (LTC) facilities. As this was happening, HealthStream sought to hear directly from providers “on the front lines” to understand their greatest challenges and needs. To this end, HealthStream surveyed 365 facility leaders during April/May of 2020. Some of our general findings included:
- Most leaders felt this pandemic was the worst healthcare crisis they had encountered during their lifetime.
- Leaders believed staff had been well-trained in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but they did not have the supply of PPE that was needed to keep staff safe.
Problems with Hiring and Retaining Staff for Long-Term Care
Some 37.1% of healthcare leaders reported that it is harder to attract new workers to their facility because of COVID-19, and more than one-fourth (28.3%) noted that they had lost staff who were worried about their personal risk in caring for residents during the pandemic.
Despite the risks, very few leaders were being encouraged to leave their jobs. Just over one in ten (11.5%) said they had been encouraged to leave their job for safety’s sake.
Protective Gear and Training for It Are a Challenge
In the midst of the pandemic crisis, leaders expressed concern that staff training was lacking and that there was a shortage of protective gear and testing supplies.
- Very few leaders (20.3%) strongly agreed that they had the protective gear they needed to care for COVID-19 patients. Even if they had had the gear they needed, many did not think their staff was adequately trained in how to use it.
Safety, Quality, and COVID-19 Preparation Are Priorities
Six in ten leaders (59.7%) believed their staff was well-trained in how to use personal protective equipment (PPE); The three top priorities for continuum leaders during this pandemic are:
- Keeping staff safe
- Maintaining a high quality of care
- Knowing what to do when residents present with symptoms of COVID-19 owever, that meant four in ten were not as likely to agree that this was the case.
More than 90% of leaders strongly agreed that these were the top issues. Just over half (51.6%) strongly agreed that attracting additional staff was a priority.
The majority of post-acute leaders were looking for support from HealthStream in these two areas:
- Training on how to care for residents diagnosed with COVID-19
- Keeping clinical staff safe from infection
- Nearly half (47.2%) wanted help retaining staff during this time.
About Survey Respondents
HealthStream surveyed 365 continuum healthcare leaders during April/May of 2020. The majority of respondents represented skilled nursing facilities (89.3%), independent/assisted living facilities (12.9%), or rehabilitation facilities (8.8%). [Please note: The percentages here add up to more than 100 because respondents could select more than one choice.) The majority of respondents were between the ages of 45 and 64 (62.1%). Nearly two-thirds (64.5%) had worked in the healthcare industry for more than 20 years. The majority of respondents were from Clinical/Nursing leadership (50.3%), but over one-fourth (28.2%) were in Executive Leadership.
This blog post is an excerpt from the article, “COVID-19 Has Forever Changed Long-term Care,” by Robin L. Rose, MBA, Vice President, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream. Download it here. A subsequent blog post will present more detailed findings about recruitment, training, protective gear, and priorities of this care setting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HealthStream Solutions for the Long-Term Care Workforce
There is a long list of challenges facing skilled and long-term care (LTC) providers. Turnover rates, for example, for clinical care in nursing homes range from 55 to 75 percent, with rates among Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) approaching 100 percent in some areas. With consistent wage pressures, shifting compliance regulations, and rising acuity levels among resident populations, the skilled nursing and LTC workforce is feeling more pressure than ever before. HealthStream works with skilled nursing and LTC facilities to address these challenges, from keeping pace with regulatory requirements to engaging and developing competent staff who can satisfy the demands of increased patient complexity. By partnering with HealthStream, organizations are equipped to seamlessly manage the pressures of surveyor visits, while remaining focused on high-quality patient and resident care.