Florida nursing homes struggle with staffing shortages

Published: June 10, 2022 9:50 AM EDT

Florida nursing homes are desperate for workers and the majority of nursing home providers have offered an increase in wages and bonuses in response.

One of our most vulnerable populations is being hit hard, as many nursing home facilities face the risk of closure because of staffing shortages and higher operating costs In a recent survey, the American Health Association said six out of 10 nursing homes in the U.S. are limiting patients due to staffing shortages. Many nursing homes are experiencing financial challenges due to inflation, even forcing some to close their doors permanently.

Kristen Knapp with the Florida Health Care Association says she has been seeing a lot of facilities in Florida struggling, but help is on the way.

“In October, the legislature put into place that all long-term care employees will come to the $15-an-hour minimum for their wages, which will help us as well,” Knapp said. “You know, we are not like the Targets and the Chik-fila-As and the Walmarts, where they can raise their prices and raise their wages. Our rates are set by the government, and we… 70 to 80% of our costs paid for labor.”

Just last week, Gov. DeSantis signed a bill for a 7.8% increase in Medicaid reimbursement. That amounts to around $239 million and will help the facilities offer more competitive wages and hopefully fill some of those open positions for good.

“Florida’s nursing homes have minimum staffing requirements, you have to have a certain number of certified nursing assistants-to-resident ratios,” Knapp said. “Yes, we have been using temporary staff to fill those positions, because we have to make sure not only are we meeting the requirements, but also meeting the needs of our residents.”