More people needed to care for elderly in the Triad amid labor shortage

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — Assisted living and other elderly care facilities in the Triad are feeling the impact of a national labor shortage.

The executive director of the North Carolina Senior Living Association said staffing was already a challenge before COVID-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated the need.

“It’s very difficult to find people to work these days given the wages that you can pay and also the willingness of folks to do this kind of work,” Jeff Horton said.

Facility directors say they need help to provide care around the clock. The administrator of Mountain Vista Health Park in Denton told FOX8 only 60% of staff is fully vaccinated ahead of a Dec. 4 federal deadline.

The facility has about 125 employees, and the administrator said they may not be able to meet state standards for care if they refuse vaccination and cannot work.

“I can tell you many providers have told me and this was prior to the vaccine mandate, many times particularly nights and weekends, it’s all hands on deck, you’ve got administrators providing care, you’ve got administrators giving medications, those types of things, so it’s going to be tough,” Horton said.

Facilities like Carolina Pines in Greensboro are using agencies to help supplement staff numbers. The skilled nursing care center needs about 12 employees.

“The staffing agency issue, the problem with those I’ve heard, is those agencies are having problems finding workers,” Horton said.

He added that agency help is expensive.

Ahead of the Dec. 4 deadline, Mountain Vista is offering $100 as a thank you to employees who get their first dose.

“I think for some providers over 100 employees, I think it’s going to be an all hands on deck type thing, hopefully, they’ll be successful getting their employees vaccinated, and providing incentives but it’s going to be very difficult,” Horton said.

The administrator at Mountain Vista is still waiting on guidance about exemptions for employees but said she does not have positions where staff can be socially distanced from patients.

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