Nursing homes often fail to provide sufficient safe staffing. It is an issue we see in every case. A new study published in JAMA Network Open shows daily staffing stability is an indicator of better quality care. Staffing instability is defined as the percentage of days with below-average staffing levels. Nursing homes that keep day-to-day nursing staff stable perform better on a variety of patient outcomes.
The study proves safe staffing is necessary for nursing home quality. Average day-to-day staffing levels impact nursing home care quality. A minimum of 4.1 hours per-patient-day has been accepted as the gold standard since the 1990s. However, government bureaucracy has prevented formal adoption of any specific requirement for safe staffing.
Staffing shortages and stability will get worse with demographic changes. The number of Americans over 65 of age will double to 92 million by 2050. In ten years, the entire Baby Boomer generation will be retirement age or older. New workers from foreign countries may be the solution.
A study by the Economy Policy Institute shows that immigrant women make up 12.8% of the total caregiving workforce in nursing homes. Without immigrants, many facilities simply cannot operate safely. Caregiving jobs which require weeks of training are available to immigrants. The industry loves cheap labor. In 2021, the US only gained a net of 224,000 new residents from immigration and natural growth (births over deaths) of 148,000.
They may like robots even more. A Stanford study found that robots correlated with a decreased burden on the human caregivers, better nursing-home management and an increase in the flexibility of workforce hours.