According to a 2023 LeadingAge workforce poll, 70% of assisted living providers are experiencing a significant or severe workforce shortage. The results show that 64% of respondents said their staffing situation had not improved in a full year, with up to 20% of positions open long-term with no applicants.
Nursing positions–particularly registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants–are the hardest to fill. Employees are looking for better pay and work schedules, or simply leaving due to burnout. Taken together, all these numbers mean workers including indispensable nursing professionals are leaving their senior living positions in droves.
Potential Costs of Staffing Shortages
Senior living is a service industry that depends on its workforce to provide top-tier service and attention to residents and their families. Workforce deficiencies could mean less engagement or, for higher levels of care such as skilled nursing or hospice, they could pose serious health consequences or preventable health crises. Senior living providers, especially those that require a higher level of care, have been forced to limit new admissions, which results in bottlenecks as prospective residents are unable to get the help they need when they need it.
Better Employers Retain Employees
The first step to preventing staffing shortages in senior living is to minimize churn. This means raising salaries, providing better benefits, and hiring enough staff to prevent over-scheduling, dissatisfaction and burnout.
Going the extra mile to invest in proper training or spending the extra dollar to keep workers satisfied, engaged, and excited in their jobs is beneficial for staff and residents alike. Workers who stay at a senior living community longer become more proficient at their jobs and give residents familiar faces to interact with. A full, well-trained staff can support better outcomes for residents, whether it be for care or in supporting trusting, lasting relationships with those who work in your community.
How Software Solutions Help
Of course, not every senior housing enterprise has the means to hire enough staff to prevent burnout and to also pay them all an enticing wage. Even the senior living communities with plenty of resources may simply have trouble finding qualified staff, as the industry is facing an applicant shortage.
Rather than overwork and overstress existing employees until they also burn out and seek greener pastures, senior living businesses need tools to facilitate efficient processes despite having fewer hands on deck. These systems should also help loyal employees provide value to the business without causing them undue stress.
The senior living industry needs tech solutions and operating systems that can make up for staff shortages. The key is to select an operating system tailored specifically to the senior living industry, rather than generic business software that could miss the nuance of our complex and demanding industry.
Staffing shortages can lead to a vicious cycle as workers who stay are forced to work long shifts until they leave their positions; this only makes things worse for the coworkers they leave behind. Senior living software should include scheduling and resource management, to fairly distribute hours and assignments while minimizing overwork. Aline, for example, offers the following utility to help senior living employees deliver optimal care to residents:
- Understandable workloads: Use a color-coded heat map to see where staff is assigned per shift and spot cases of over- or under-scheduling.
- Easy adjustments: Optimize staff time by rescheduling and reassigning tasks fairly and avoid missing anything, without unduly burdening any particular worker.
- Match staff to residents: Track residents’ preferred caregivers and individuals’ workplace effectiveness to assign staff to provide the best bespoke solution for each resident or care recipient.
- Prevent runaway budgets: Minimize overtime by ensuring tasks are evenly and efficiently distributed amongst all workers.
Automation Reduces Workload
Senior living operating systems do much more than just distribute employee assignments. Like any good technological solution, they automate many of the functions that take up a worker’s precious effort and time. So much of a senior living business’s operations involve filing paperwork, tracking information, and maintaining all-important compliance with regulations like HIPAA, so solutions designed to make these tasks faster and easier are essential.
A purpose-built operating system like Aline automates paperwork, recordkeeping, and compliance so all information is up-to-date, with all codes and statutes carefully observed. This frees staff from bureaucratic busywork and lets them spend valuable one-on-one time caring for and getting to know their residents, providing that all-important human interaction that makes for a more positive and healthy senior living experience.
Senior living communities with more satisfied residents and employees will soon find themselves ready to welcome more clients, which means more pressure on marketing and sales personnel. This is why sales and marketing software is a valuable tool to take the busywork out of creating leads and closing sales. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can streamline and improve communications between sales personnel and potential clients, while data and analytics can help boost sales.
- Here are just a few ways data makes work easier for marketing and sales staff:
- Tracking ROI by ad campaign and trends by location and demographic
- Pinpointing peaks and valleys in interest by location
- Interpreting connections between incoming residents and successful campaigns
- Finding new avenues and audiences for marketing
There is no indication of when the staffing shortage might end, either generally or for the senior housing industry. Only by improving conditions for workers will senior living businesses retain the workforce it has while also attracting new staff. Improving those conditions requires better pay and benefits which means streamlining and optimizing operations.
People join the senior living industry because they are passionate about supporting and providing for people and their families. Freeing them from busywork, automating their routines, and protecting them from over-scheduling will preserve employees’ love of their jobs and make them more effective when they stick around for the long term.
Blogs, stories and studies from the forefront of senior living operations
5 Ways to Overcome Senior Living Communities’ Biggest Challenges in 2024
Aline Leads the Way for the Future of Senior Living
How to Align Senior Living Sales and Marketing Strategies
An Introduction to Senior Living Digital Marketing
Your Guide to Creating an Effective Senior Living Marketing Strategy