Study: staffing shortages pushing state’s nursing homes to near capacity
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A warning has been issued by one group about staffing shortages that are causing nursing homes to be near capacity across the state. The news comes as four nursing homes in western Massachusetts are in the process of closing down.
“There’s a significant workforce crisis in Massachusetts in terms of healthcare sector and that includes not only nursing care facilities, but others,” said Gary Abrahams, chief operating officer with the Mass. Senior Care Association.
The association released a survey on Monday that reveals thousands of licensed beds in nursing homes across the state are unavailable due to staffing shortages, with approximately 8,000 job vacancies across the elder care system.
“If you really need a real-time placement today or tomorrow, what you need to look at is how many beds are available based on staff capacity,” Abrahams added.
The four nursing homes in western Massachusetts that are in the process of closing down include the Chapin Center in Springfield, Governor’s Center in Westfield, and Willimansett Center West and East, both in Chicopee. Abrahams told Western Mass News that there is a difference between capacity that is based on licensed beds and the number of beds allowed in each nursing home versus the number of actual available staffed beds that are ready to be occupied.
“If you looked to see, well, how many beds there are on a licensed basis, it would be 41,000, but our analysis, our survey is showing that not all of those 41,000 beds are available today and we estimate that at least a minimum that 3,000 of those licensed beds are not operation today because of staffing restraints,” Abrahams noted.
“We need to get out of the habit of saying that we have so many beds available, licensed beds, because if you don’t have people to staff those beds, they are not beds that are available,” said State Senator John Velis.
Velis told us that ongoing conversations are happening at the State House in hopes of addressing this issue.
“We actually had a hearing this morning in the Elder Affairs Committee where we talked about things like tuition reimbursements for CNAs, ladder grants to encourage people to go into this. This is going to be a conversation that we spend an enormous amount of time in this legislative session,” Velis explained.
Abrahams told us the demand for nursing home care has vastly increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is making matters more urgent.
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