Even before COVID-19, skilled nursing facility jobs were abundant, with most regions struggling to hire enough workers to keep them fully staffed. And with its tendency to hit long-term care (LTC) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) particularly hard, the pandemic has made things worse.
For instance, 17% of clinical positions in Massachusetts SNFs were vacant before the pandemic, compared to about 20% now — so, one in five skilled nursing facility jobs are unfilled. As a WBUR report explains, so serious is the need for nursing professionals in the Bay State that the governor is using $130 million in emergency federal funding “to help with infection control, PPE supply and staffing.”
The upshot is that, if you’re a nursing professional seeking new career opportunities, or the chance to help facilities truly in need of urgent assistance from skilled caregivers, there’s no shortage of assignments. And with skilled nursing facility jobs so widely available, what should nurses know before pursuing a SNF assignment in our COVID-19 world?
3 Things to Know about Skilled Nursing Facility Jobs in the Age of COVID-19
1. CNAs are in demand. As the pandemic continues to seriously affect healthcare nationwide, we’ve seen a big rise in demand for nursing aides/assistants/CNAs. This is partly because of the temporary halt in training programs, and partly because of the reluctance some professionals feel about working in facilities that have been the subject of so much pandemic-related scrutiny.
And, thought this demand is also related to a need for nurses who may not command the highest level of pay, that doesn’t mean that they’re not offering competitive salaries. In states like Massachusetts, for instance, CNAs and other healthcare workers are being offered temporary pay increases* to entice them to work skilled nursing facility jobs.
What’s the takeaway? Many of the nation’s many available skilled nursing facility jobs are also opportunities for CNAs to gain valuable career experience — and, in some locations, to do so at higher-than-normal rates of pay.
2. More money is being spent on safety measures. In the early months of the pandemic, SNFs were, in some states, the hardest-hit facilities in terms of infections, as well as hotbeds for community spread. Those incidents, and the difficulties they’ve caused, have not gone unnoticed; the spring’s CARES Act stimulus package included almost $4.9 billion in relief funds available specifically for skilled nursing facilities.
As such, the governors of many states (like Texas and Virginia) have announced the immediate use of that funding to better ensure the safety of these facilities. This includes not just basic personal protection equipment (PPE) but also thermometers and temperature-scanning equipment, decontamination systems, plexiglass barriers for distancing, N95 test-fitting gear, and more.
What’s the takeaway? Recent weeks have seen a widespread call to keep workers in skilled nursing facilities safe — an idea that governors and public officials are now supporting, not just with words but actual funding.
3. Public support is growing. Also in recent weeks, we’ve seen a shift from criticism of the skilled nursing and long-term care industry to widespread calls for public assistance for these hard-hit facilities.
For instance, when asked about the issues facing LTC/SNFs in her state, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds made a point of saying that “in the context of this, that there are a lot of long-term care facilities that are doing a phenomenal job.”
And Emory University School of Law’s Dr. Mark Goldfeder has publicly called for swift action to make sure LTC/SNFs have high-priority access to PPE. He’s also calling for more funding in general, and a greater level of reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
What’s the takeaway? As we’ve seen in Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia and other places, many leaders are shifting away from placing blame on LTC/SNFs and instead offering funds and resources to keep workers and residents safer.
Find Skilled Nursing Facility Jobs from CareerStaff Unlimited
For our part, we’re helping fill skilled nursing facility jobs across the United States with our nationwide network of health professionals. If you’d like to join that network and get exclusive access to thousands of amazing nursing jobs nationwide — as well as great pay and benefits — you can join our roster of healthcare professionals here, or search all skilled nursing facility jobs here.
* May not be available for all assignments. Check with your recruiter for more details.