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LTSS Sector Hit Harder with Worker Shortages

The long-term care sector has lost more than 400,000 employees since the beginning of COVID

May 31, 2022  – The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation recently released a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both hospital and outpatient clinician workforce. Among other key points is that the long-term supports and services (LTSS) sector has been hardest hit by the workforce shortage. 

Overall, the healthcare workforce was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, some sectors fared better than others. Hospitals lost just under 33,000 employees from December 2020 to December 2021, with skilled nursing and residential care facilities losing just shy of 150,000 workers. However, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the LTSS sector lost over 400,000 employees since COVID began. The sector also faced a disproportionate rate of mortalities during the pandemic. 

LTSS Sector Calls on Policymakers for Help

Healthcare organizations and NGOs are speaking out in an effort to address the looming problem.

“Providers are doing everything they can to recruit and retain staff, but we need government support to go further faster. It’s time for policymakers to invest in our frontline heroes and develop policies that will help recruit and retain hundreds of thousands of long-term caregivers,” a spokesperson for AHCA/NCAL stated.

Others, including Jenna Kellerman, director of workforce strategy and development at LeadingAge, noted that the LTSS sector is continually overlooked despite its importance.

“The importance of LTSS [long-term services and supports] to the entire healthcare system was highlighted during the pandemic, yet is often left out as a key player in reports such as this,” she stated in an interview, adding, “Our healthcare system at large cannot function without an operational arm of long-term care services. We need a recalibration of funding to properly reimburse LTSS for the important role they play within the system. Without this recalibration, we won’t be able to support the flow of hospital patients into our LTSS settings, and will be less successful in preventing hospital admissions of our older adult consumers.”

To read the whole report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, click here

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