Long-term care facilities across the state face a shortage of comprehensive caregivers that has forced 70 percent of Minnesota’s nursing homes to limit new admissions, an industry group said Thursday.
Leading Age Minnesota and Care Providers Minnesota, the state’s two largest long-term care trade associations, announced that 70 percent of Minnesota care facilities surveyed reported staff shortages that hindered their ability to accept new residents. And 29 percent of assisted living facilities reported a lack of ability to bring in new residents due to staffing.
The report found that in over 300 facilities, 23,000 posts were left vacant. Many caregivers were forced out of the workforce or other jobs because of low wages, months of stress and fatigue and personal protective equipment and family needs, the groups said.
“We can’t accept people if we don’t have the staff to take care of them,” said Patty Cullen, CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, “It’s not that we don’t want to care for seniors and take care of families.” Help, we can’t because we don’t have the staff to do it.”
The group of care organizations on Thursday called on Governor Tim Walz’s administration to quickly set aside federal US Rescue Plan dollars to help pay for emergency staffing. “Strike teams” can then temporarily assist some of the most severely affected buildings and give caregivers a break there.
He also asked lawmakers to boost long-term care worker pay to help recruit and retain more employees. Spokesmen for many care facilities said caregivers had taken extensive overtime and non-carers worked weekends or covered other shifts to ensure residents were adequately cared for. A recent survey of Minnesota facilities found that 24 are on the verge of closure due to a severe staff shortage, the groups said.
“Nursing homes, especially small nursing homes in rural Minnesota, are beginning to close. It’s already happening and I fear it’s going to get worse,” said Erin Hilligan, Ebenezer Senior Living Vice President of Operations. “We can’t solve this without the state’s help. Before it’s too late, we need to invest in our caregivers.”