Survey: Tight Job Market, Low Pay Means Thousands Of Vacancies In Caregiving Jobs

A shortage of caregivers in nursing homes and residential facilities for the elderly and disabled is leading to high vacancy rates across Wisconsin, according to a new survey.

A survey of providers has found that there are currently 11,000 job openings in long-term care facilities. It’s not a new problem, but John Vander Meer, executive director of the Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living, said the dwindling workforce is reaching crisis levels.

“Our providers who give care to our state’s frail elderly and disabled residents are unable to offer wages that remain competitive with unskilled jobs at places like Kwik Trip, Wal Mart and McDonald’s. While McDonald’s can the raise price of Big Mac, we’re not in a position to be able to raise the price of our care,” he said.

Two-thirds of nursing home residents in Wisconsin rely on Medicaid.  The state reimbursement is less than what it costs to provide care, Vander Meer said, meaning facilities lose $55 a day per resident.

A recent study from the American Health Care Association said Wisconsin has the largest gap between nursing home cost and Medicaid reimbursement. Thirty-three states participated in that study.