NEWTON, North Carolina – According to a recent survey, most nursing homes in the US are facing staff shortages, which can result in unsafe conditions for the nation’s elderly.
A survey released this month by the American Health Care Association found that 98% of nursing home operators are having trouble getting hired, 59% said they’re losing money, and 73% said staffing issues. can force them to close.
“I think COVID took it to a different level,” said Amber McIntosh, executive director of Abernathy Laurels, a senior living community outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jackie Rojo Sanchez, a certified nursing assistant, cares for eight residents each shift at Abernathy Laurels. But Deondre Clark, a travel certified nursing assistant in the same field, sometimes has to care for 20 or more.
“I’ve never been to a place that was fully staffed until now,” Clark said.
The impact of staff shortages on care is “bad,” Clarke said, adding that he would hear residents shouting and “you go to their room and they’re on the floor.”
The Macintosh calls the CNA the “backbone” of a nursing home. Without them, she says, they cannot function.
Last January, North Carolina investigated two deaths at the Pine Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center in the city of Thomasville. Investigators found that a nurse and two CNAs cared for 98 people. Later the Center was approved.
This month, a union representing 1.25 million nursing home workers demonstrated for better pay and staffing.
“The status quo is untenable for workers in this industry, for caring residents, and for the best employers,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union.
To recruit more CNAs like Sanchez, Abernathy Laurels raised the salary to $16 an hour. It also started paying to train and certify new CNAs.
“It was an investment,” McIntosh said.
But most nursing homes are short of staff, some dangerously.
“It’s just a form of neglect and I don’t want to be a part of it,” Clark said.
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