Senior Living Workforce Crisis Slams Wisconsin Providers

The workforce crisis is hitting senior housing providers hard across the country, and the latest figures from Wisconsin show just how urgent the problem is, with vacancies on the rise, workers in short supply, and admissions being halted due to inadequate staffing.

Approximately 30% of Wisconsin’s long-term care providers have an average caregiver vacancy rate of 25% or higher, and 54% of Wisconsin providers have zero applicants for caregiver openings.

That’s according to The Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis: A 2018 Report, which was put together by several state-level groups, including LeadingAge Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association and Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living.

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For the report, 756 providers of long-term care in Wisconsin were surveyed this year about caregiver vacancies. Approximately 29% of the providers were nursing homes; the rest, 71%, were assisted living providers, LeadingAge Wisconsin President and CEO John Sauer told Senior Housing News.  

In general, Wisconsin’s long-term care providers are pessimistic about their current workforce prospects. About 83% of providers surveyed, for instance, believed that there were no qualified applicants for their caregiver openings. In 2016, 70% of respondents felt that way.

Roughly 50% of providers, meanwhile, believed that they cannot compete with other employers. Another 67% of providers said personal caregivers have left their buildings for jobs outside of health care.

All the while, the staffing vacancies are directly impacting providers’ bottom lines.

Approximately 25% of long-term providers in Wisconsin have limited their admissions in the past year due to staffing vacancies, the findings show. That’s up from 18% of providers who reported doing so in 2016.

Nationally, unemployment is hovering around 4%. With labor markets so tight, providers have taken creative measures to improve recruitment and retention, including hiring life coaches for employees to consult. 

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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