ST. PAUL — Long-term care facilities around the state face widespread caregiver shortages that have forced 70% of Minnesota nursing homes to limit new admissions, an industry group reported Thursday, Oct. 7.
Leading Age Minnesota and Care Providers Minnesota, the state's two largest long-term care trade associations, announced that 70% of Minnesota care facilities surveyed reported a shortage in staffing that hampered their ability to admit new residents. And 29% of assisted living facilities reported a decreased ability to bring in new residents due to staffing.
Across more than 300 facilities, there were 23,000 positions left unfilled, the report found. Low wages, stress and fatigue from working overtime and in personal protective equipment for months and family needs pulled many caregivers out of the workforce or to other jobs, the groups said.
"We can't admit people if we don't have the staff to take care of them," Patti Cullen, CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, said, "it's not that we don't want to take care of the seniors and help the families, we cannot because we don't have the staff available to do that."
The group of care organizations on Thursday called for the Walz Administration to quickly set aside federal American Rescue Plan dollars to help pay for emergency staffing. "Strike teams" could then temporarily assist some of the most severely impacted buildings and give caregivers there a break.
They also asked lawmakers to boost long-term care worker pay to help recruit and retain more employees. Spokespeople for several care facilities said caregivers had taken on extensive overtime and non-caregivers had worked weekends or covered other shifts to ensure residents had adequate care. A recent poll of Minnesota facilities found that 24 are on the cusp of closure due to severe staffing shortages, the groups said.
"Nursing homes, especially small nursing homes in rural Minnesota are starting to close. This is already happening and I'm afraid 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. We need to invest in our caregivers before it's too late."