Home Nursing home Significant Kansas closures reflect broader nursing home staffing issues across the United States

Significant Kansas closures reflect broader nursing home staffing issues across the United States


The recent Kansas nursing home closures and downsizing represent a microcosm of major issues facing nursing homes nationwide.

During the pandemic, 35 long-term care facilities across the state either closed or reduced admissions and capacity, according to LeadingAge Kansas.

Nationally, pre-pandemic staffing shortages intensified during the public health emergency and continue today. Meanwhile, federal and state funds to help with staffing are dwindling, facilities are competing more intensely for workers, and recruiting agencies continue to cost more than regular staff.

Kansas, like the rest of the United States, expects its aging population to increase by multiples over the next few decades. By 2036, the number of Kansans aged 65 and over is expected to increase by more than 40%, according to a local report this week.

A nursing home administrator said his facility closed a quarter of its residential capacity because it couldn’t find enough workers. She added that over the past year, about 20 of the 51 licensed practical nurse positions have remained vacant.

“For every person we hire, it seems like two leave,” she told the Pratt Tribune.

Research shows residents suffer when staffing levels are insufficient, lose weight and gain pressure sores and a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

When nursing homes turn to recruitment agencies for help, it creates three problems: agencies cost more than full-time staff, successful agencies attract nurses for higher pay and therefore far of the facility’s labor pool, and residents receive care from workers who are not as familiar.

“It’s really hard to have a different person looking after you all the time,” Dana Weaver, chief operating officer of LeadingAge Kansas, told the Pratt Tribune. “It produces anxiety for the individual, and the individual actually has to teach the agency staff how to take care of them.”