“After increasing in February and March, occupancy was flat in April. Labor is still a serious challenge within the industry and some operators are still unable to admit new patients due to staffing shortages.”
With the highly contagious omicron variant seemingly behind us and senior housing occupancy recovery continuing for the third consecutive quarter through Q1 2022, there is waning optimism regarding operating margins. In the Wave 42 survey, almost 60% of survey respondents expect margins to increase in the next six months, although this is down from 75% of respondents in the Wave 38 survey. Rising operating expenses limit the degree to which operating margins will grow in the next six months. Staffing challenges remain top of mind. Only 20% of respondents indicate that staffing challenges will improve in the next year, while 20% indicate it will take until 2024 to see improvement, and 30% signal staffing issues will not improve until 2025 or later. The most effective method cited for attracting new community staff is increasing wages (65%), followed by flexible schedules (15%), and hiring bonuses (5%). Staffing and a slowdown in lead conversions are affecting the pace of move-ins, which slowed for memory care and nursing care properties, but remained consistent for assisted living and independent living properties.
The impacts of the pandemic and resulting workforce contraction affected healthcare industries differently. Nursing care facilities, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), and assisted living properties have experienced a longer workforce contraction compared with other adjacent healthcare industries.
Today, ATI Advisory released a research paper, commissioned by NIC, that is a resource for skilled nursing stakeholders, including policymakers. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded our country of the persistent weaknesses of the long-term care system and NIC believes that a study providing the facts — both past and present — would be of tremendous value to stakeholders and is aligned with NIC’s mission of providing access and choice.