AARP Iowa urges the state to further address staffing shortages in nursing homes

Iowa News

DES MOINES, Iowa — According to AARP Iowa, one in three nursing homes in the state are reporting staffing shortages.

Advocacy Director with AARP Iowa, Anthony Carroll said, in order to solve this problem the state needs to do more in recruitment and retainment.

“Think about the people who’ve been there, who’ve stayed there through the pandemic. The need to train and retrain new people that come in there as well as make up for the fact that there’s less staff to provide care for residents,” Caroll said.  “It magnifies and really contributes to other staffing challenges if you don’t get ahead of it, we don’t address this.” 

In December, 50% of Iowa’s nursing homes reported staffing shortages. That number has since decreased. However, Iowa still ranks among the highest in the country in shortages, with about 36% of nursing homes citing employment issues this March. 

To continue to address this problem, AARP Iowa is urging the state to develop a public plan on how to better ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, increase wages and benefits for direct care employees and create a centralized direct care worker database and a stakeholder advisory group on employee operations. 

Senior Vice President of Strategic Communication for the Iowa Health Care Association, Lori Ristau, said the state is working on the most important piece of the puzzle by focusing on budgeting this legislative session.

According to the Iowa Health Care Association, long term health care relies heavily on state and federal funding with 50% of residents in these facilities relying on Medicaid and 70 cents to every dollar given to nursing homes allocated to staff. 

“Wages will increase when funding increases for long term care. So they are doing the most important work they could do right now and we’re very pleased with the budget targets we’ve seen coming out of both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate when it comes to funding long term care,” Ristau said. 

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