In a new question in the Wave 41 survey, respondents were asked whether they found the acuity of new resident move-ins to have increased, decreased, or stayed the same as compared to before the pandemic. Significantly, move-in acuity has increased for 71% of the respondents with assisted living, and for more than 60% of respondents with memory care units and nursing care beds. In independent living settings, 41% of respondents report acuity having increased since before the pandemic. The shares of organizations reporting acceleration in nursing care move-ins continued to increase – from 21% in Wave 37 conducted in January 2022 to 68% in Wave 41. This marks the fourth consecutive wave where the pace of nursing care move-ins has increased from the prior wave. Over one-half of respondents to the Wave 41 survey (53%) reported lead volumes above pre-pandemic levels in May – a noteworthy increase from the Wave 38 survey reflecting results in February (33%).
In a new question in the Wave 40 survey, respondents were asked whether they planned to increase, decrease, or not change their current care offering unit mix. Significantly, one-half of organizations expect to increase the independent living care segment over the next 12-months. On the flip side, one out of five respondents (21%) expect to decrease the nursing care segment. Regarding the current share of all full-time open positions across respondent organizations, in the Wave 40 survey, one-quarter have more than 20% of positions currently unfilled.
Just over one-quarter of respondents noted that the severity of their staffing shortages across their organizations was severe, while two-thirds indicated the problem was moderate. Of significance, one-quarter of respondents had more than 20% of full-time positions currently unfilled. Regarding tenure of full-time employees, on average, just under one-half of organizations retained more than 80% on the job after one month. However, after one year, only 17% of organizations still had over 80% remaining on the job. Staffing shortages are often due to the inability to fill nursing aide positions, but wage competition and the inability to hire nurses also factored highly.
As the pandemic eases and occupancy recovery in senior housing progresses, rising operating expenses may limit the degree to which operating margins will grow in the next six months. In the Wave 38 survey, three-quarters of respondents expect margins to increase; the majority anticipate the increase will be between 1% and 5%. Nearly three-quarters of respondents are optimistic that labor and staffing challenges will begin to ease in the second half of 2022 or 2023. Currently, all respondents are paying staff overtime hours and four out of five rely on agency or temp staff to fill in the gaps. About one-half do not expect their reliance on agency or temp staff to change in 2022; however, 40% anticipate it will decrease.