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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Shank

Facing Increasing Elder Populations and Staffing Challenges in Long-term Care Facilities

Updated: Apr 2

The COVID pandemic forced the healthcare industry to move from in-person visits to telehealth. Referrals and treatments also drastically changed for physicians and patients. Nursing homes saw a decrease in the number of new residents referred to them by physicians as they opted to recommend home health and aging-in-place programs. January 2023, nursing homes have experienced a spike in referrals reverting from stay-at-home recommendations and returning to nursing home referrals. This spike is coming with several challenges that care facilities now have to address.

Staffing Forecasts

Nursing homes are facing the challenges of workforce shortage. According to the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), nursing homes lost over 200,000 workers over the course of the pandemic. The study also showed that nursing homes are not projected to return to pre-pandemic staffing levels until 2027.

Staffing issues are not just a problem for nursing homes and assisted living communities; home health agencies are also facing staffing dilemmas. As home health agencies are having to reject new patients, the hospital and physician referrals are diverting to nursing homes.

Increase in Patient Acuity

By 2030, one in five of the population in the United States will be at retirement age. As the aging population grows, staffing in the eldercare sector of the healthcare system decreases, and we are forced to find ways to accommodate our elderly population. In 2022 the census revealed that 16.6% of the population in Louisiana is over the age of 65, in alignment with the National average elderly population. That number is projected to increase to approximately 20% by 2040.

A 2019 study conducted by Peterson-KFF Health Tracker non-profit, revealed that the elderly population accounted for over 25 percent of doctor visits, 35 percent of hospital stays, and 56 percent of total healthcare spending. These numbers are steadily expected to increase over time.

Adapting Healthcare System

The healthcare system is having to increasingly rely on technology to deliver healthcare needs. Utilizing virtual healthcare cuts down on time spent transferring residents and patients into often overcrowded campuses, results can be uploaded, available, transferred, and viewed by healthcare teams.

Mobile Digital Imaging companies can dispatch technicians and provide fast and real-time results. Helping to cut down on wait times and streamline how patients are diagnosed and treated.

Here is a download on how to recruit long-term caregivers.

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