The Covid-19 pandemic has not reached an end, but it is certainly at an inflection point. Covid case counts and hospitalizations are both currently at low points nationwide. While the threat of additional variants remains, many wonder if this is now more of an endemic than pandemic. What does that mean for healthcare staffing? To get a sense of where things may be heading, it’s best to consider the current state carefully. One place to start is an area most dramatically affected by the pandemic: post-acute care facilities.
The supply and demand for skilled nurses and clinicians is already changing. It’s a sea-change moment, as things appear nearly the opposite of how they did in the Spring of 2020. Recall that time for post-acute; it was a crisis-filled “pause” moment. Nearly all long-term care facilities went into lockdown to protect potentially vulnerable residents. New resident numbers decreased. And, unlike some other healthcare professionals who moved toward Covid-impacted areas, facility leadership stayed put to address the resident and staff needs closest to them.
Today, that could be changing, according to Todd Davis, the Director of Post-Acute Operations at Medical Solutions.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we saw a lot of nurses and clinicians taking travel assignments, but that wasn’t as much the case for leadership,” Davis said. “By in large, they stayed at their facility to support their residents and staff in a time of crisis. We’ve started to see the opposite happening now. As the Covid-19 concern is shifting many leaders are opting for time off, new opportunities with other facilities and as interim leaders.”
Any change in leadership creates a critical need for post-acute care providers and facilities. If a post-pandemic world means an increase in changes or new assignments for leadership, facilities will need a total workforce solution partner with both nationwide reach and the ability to find the right candidate fit to prevent penalties and maintain quality resident care.
The pandemic also brought an increase in patients choosing home-based care rather than a residential facility. An increase in telehealth as well as changes to preauthorization requirements and CMS waivers enabled changes to where care could be delivered. Providers transitioned more patients home rather than a long-term care facility. Will that trend continue?
Signs point to home-based primary care and telehealth continuing to grow. But without insurance coverage of non-medical home care, it’s possible not as many skilled nursing facility residents will shift to home. With the threat of Covid-19 diminished, more patients may opt for residential long-term care settings.
Whether it’s a decrease in demand for home-based care, or an increase in the number of procedures and surgeries, a post-pandemic world may mean increased resident and patient counts for post-acute and long-term care facilities. With this comes increased demand for staff. Further, as nurses and clinicians have fewer opportunities to travel to Covid-impacted hospital settings, they may be more willing and able to consider skilled nursing facilities in their future employment plans.
A strategic staffing plan for a post-pandemic world needs to consider not only possible changes in director-level leaders and administrators, but also RNs and LPNs. Staff changes are possible all along the care spectrum and plans should also include new or additional dietitians and social service coordinators. Partnering with a more comprehensive workforce solutions provider can enable facilities to consider not only their immediate high-level needs but a larger and longer-term staffing picture.
If your post-acute facility faces an urgent need for interim leadership or needs a strategic staffing partner with industry-leading expertise, reach out to Medical Solutions to start a conversation about your needs.