It’s common knowledge that the skilled nursing and assisted living sectors are undergoing a staffing crisis of epic proportions. It’s a situation that has been brewing for many years, but it now seems about to come to a head. If the situation isn’t resolved soon, many more nursing care facilities may close down and the entire industry may collapse.
It’s a dire scenario to be sure, but it is one that we should all prepare for. As COVID-19 maintain its hold on many parts of the world, healthcare systems are burdened almost to the breaking point and workers are resigning in record numbers.
Staffing problems plaguing the industry
Senior care facilities are among the most affected. Along with the challenges of dwindling residencies, many now face the struggle of retaining qualified employees and attracting new workers. While nursing home insurance takes some of the burden off facility owners and operators, the difficulty in maintaining skilled nursing staff continues to be a major obstacle.
Some organizations have stepped in to fill the gap. Many nursing homes have had to rely on staffing agencies occasionally for their personnel requirements in the past. At present, it seems that they need all the help these partners can provide in filling up essential direct care positions.
Cap on nurses’ salaries proposed
Now, the entire nursing care profession faces a new challenge. Recent proposals aim to cap nurses’ salaries to make nursing care costs more affordable. Although this will undoubtedly ease some of the burden on families that need these services, many fear that it will make the staffing crisis even worse.
Some argue that the move is warranted. Amidst the increasing demand for nursing care and highly qualified care professionals, many staffing agencies have raised their prices over the past year. Considering that the world is already reeling from the pandemic, raising prices could be seen as unfairly taking advantage of a difficult situation and that it places even more burden on the industry.
For their part, many staffing agencies feel that the price increase is justified. Even as the pricing structure of many organizations remain the same, they have had to compensate for higher wage and benefit rates across the industry. And given the necessity of providing benefits such as workers’ compensation and health insurance, agencies have little choice but to increase their prices.
Why salary capping is a bad idea
But while capping nurses’ salaries might help keep the cost of nursing care more manageable, it will cause a host of other problems. In particular, it makes it more difficult for staffing agencies to retain existing care professionals and to attract the new workers that nursing care profession so desperately needs. And considering how dire the staffing situation is at present, this is an added burden that the nursing care profession could do without.
The proposed restricted rate structure will place many other challenges to care facilities and HR departments. Apart from being unable to offer competitive salaries, employers may even have to trim down their benefits packages, if not withhold them altogether. Considering the reluctance of many new nurses to enter the profession, the lack of perks will likely reduce the number of new applicants even further.
And then there are the costs of onboarding new nurses. Salaries and benefits packages aside, employers will also have to pay for compliance, training and testing new hires, and performing background checks. There are also expenses associated with developing and managing teams tasked with recruiting, vetting, and placing nurses and care professionals in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Restricting the pay structure is not the answer
These and many other challenges highlight the folly of capping nursing staff salaries. It is a complex issue to be sure, but the one thing that can be said with any degree of certainty is that restricting the rate structure for professionals in the nursing care sector is not the answer. On the contrary, it threatens to worsen the already desperate staffing situation, and hinders the efforts of staffing agencies and care facilities to maintain existing staff and recruit new workers.
As the first month of the New Year comes to a close, relief seems as distant and unattainable as ever. COVID-19 will likely continue to be a factor that affects the medical and healthcare industries, and the situation will likely get worse before it becomes better. Even for this reason alone, it is imperative to ensure that nursing care professionals get the benefits and compensation that they deserve in the challenging times ahead.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.