52% of Assisted Living Operators Say Labor Woes Have Worsened Since January

Assisted living operators are still struggling with workforce challenges in the summer of 2022 — in fact, more than half say their overall workforce situation has further worsened since January.

That’s according to a new survey from the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL). The survey, published Tuesday, included responses from more than 120 operators managing a collective 4,000 assisted living communities.

In the survey, 52% of the operators reported that the current labor crunch is either “much worse,” (24%) or “somewhat worse,” (28%) while just 23% reported the situation was either “much better,” or “somewhat better.” Just over a quarter of respondents said that workforce challenges have stayed the same since January.


It’s no secret that overtime is a favored tool to combat staffing shortages, and almost all of the respondents (98%) said they’ve asked staff to work extra hours or shifts.

While the survey reflects ongoing pain among assisted living operators, it paints a slightly rosier picture than a similar survey last September, when 77% reported staffing challenges that had gotten much or somewhat worse.

In the latest NCAL survey, 63% of respondents said that their communities were facing moderate or high levels of staffing shortages. That is also an improvement over last September, when 82% of respondents said the same thing.


Since June 2021, the labor crunch has fueled an average operating cost increase of 40%, according to the survey.

Among the respondents, 37% said staffing challenges were causing them to operate at a loss, while 41% said they are operating at a margin between zero and 3%. Less than a quarter of respondents (22%) had a margin of more than 3%

While the majority of respondents (41%) said they were “not at all concerned” about having to close over staffing challenges, 32% said they were “somewhat concerned” and 16% were “very concerned.”

While almost two-thirds of the respondents (65%) said they believed they could keep up the current pace of their operations for longer than a year, while 22% said they could maintain for 7 to 12 months.

Another 10% said they could last four to six months at their current pace, and 3% said they would only be able to sustain another two to three months at their current pace.

As for how operators are recruiting new talent, the vast majority (93%) have upped wages. Other top strategies from respondents included strengthening their workplace culture (75%), offering bonuses (69%), promoting staff (55%), paying for training or education (55%) and offering additional benefits (38%).

But lack of interested or qualified candidates was still of concern for assisted living operators, with 67% calling the problem “extremely big.”

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