Funds for Safe Staffing?
The severe shortage of nursing-home workers is largely due to low wages and poor working conditions. The $1.7 trillion congressional year-end spending bill had many provisions to help the nursing home industry. Hopefully, they can finally provide the staff necessary to meet the needs and safety of the residents.
The omnibus spending package would include workforce development and job training programs, and Alzheimer’s research. Alzheimer’s disease research would receive an increase of $226 million. $500 million increase for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for Alzheimer’s.
Workforce development provisions include $285 million to expand opportunities through apprenticeship grants, cooperative agreements, contracts and other arrangements. Another $65 million is allocated to Strengthening Community College Training Grants, and $1.75 billion for Job Corps.
Meantime, the median annual cost to stay in a nursing home is hovering around $100,000, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. A 600+ page report from The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) in April 2022 said:
“The way in which the United States finances, delivers and regulates care in nursing home settings is ineffective, inefficient, fragmented and unsustainable. Immediate action to initiate fundamental changes is necessary.”
David Grabowski is a Harvard Medical School health care policy professor and long-time nursing-home analyst. He asserts:
“Nursing homes in America are broken. That’s not to say that the individuals working in nursing homes are doing something wrong. We’re just not providing them with the support, we’re not paying them a living wage, we’re not providing them with benefits. And we’re not offering residents a model that’s about their needs and consistent with their preferences. I think we’re failing almost at every level, unfortunately.”
We need to do more to protect the elderly. We see abuse and neglect too often in our cases.