Senior Living Operators See Staffing Improving in 2023 Despite Widespread Shortages

Senior living’s staffing challenges will improve in the second half of 2023 — but for now, the industry is still mired in widespread shortages.

That’s according to a new National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) survey tracking senior living executive sentiment. More than 48 owners and executives of senior housing and skilled nursing operators weighed in between Dec. 12, 2022 and Jan. 15, 2023.

One takeaway from the recent survey is that, while the industry is optimistic about staffing improving in 2022. More than half (57%) who responded to the survey said they expected staffing challenges to improve in the second half of 2023.


Even so, the overwhelming majority of respondents — 92% — reported experiencing some kind of staffing shortage at the time they took the survey. About a third of respondents said they were experiencing shortages for either half or all of their portfolio. 

Although the data on staffing improvement could reflect an optimistic view from operators, it could also reflect a sentiment that the challenges can’t get much worse than where they are today.

The new data shows employee turnover is still an issue. On average, a quarter of the respondents said they retained more than 80% of new staff on the job after one month. That is lower than an earlier survey conducted in the late summer of 2022, when 29% said they kept more than 80% of their new employees on the job after one month


Just 7% of the operators said they kept more than 80% of their new employees after 12 months.

Under half of the operators (42%) said they were tapping agency staff to supplement nurse aide positions, while just over a third said the same about nurses. Another 14% reported using agency staffing for food service workers.

Operators were optimistic that occupancy will have recovered by the first half of 2023, including more than half of the independent living and memory care operators who responded to the NIC survey. A little fewer than half of assisted living operators said the same.

As for what operators see as their biggest current challenges, three took precedence: Attracting staff, rising expenses and turnover. Slightly less than 40% see low occupancy rates as their top challenge.

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