U.S. News: Why Nursing Home Staffing is Crucial to Health

When a nursing facility loses caregivers, it can be a matter of life or death for its residents, according to a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, reports U.S. News.

While it may seem counterintuitive, nursing home residents are actually adversely affected by stronger economies. That’s because in favorable economic times, nursing homes lose staffers who would prefer to have—and are able to get—other jobs, the article says. In turn, nursing homes with fewer caregivers have higher death rates.

The outlook for nursing homes and caregiving resources in general is sobering. It’s a certainty that rising numbers of aging Americans will need more care in the future. People in their 80s are the nation’s fastest-growing age group. Over this same period, the retiring baby-boom generation will be succeeded in the workforce by much smaller generations of younger workers. The result will be a growing shortage of care providers.


Moreover, government reimbursement rates for some nursing-home services have been cut by Medicare and the industry is under growing financial pressure. Prospects are high for continued curbs on healthcare spending. Accordingly, operators of the nation’s roughly 1.6 million certified nursing beds are looking for efficiencies and ways to streamline services, not add to staffing levels.

The traditional thinking about why death rates increase during strong economies was tied to job-related stress and behavior, the Center for Retirement Research study said. “During boom times, when more people are employed, job-related stress may increase obesity and smoking,” it said. “High employment and long hours on the job also limit individuals’ ability to find time for diet and exercise, causing health to deteriorate.”

Read the full U.S. News article here.


Written by Alyssa Gerace