Occupancy Rates Slowly Rise in Skilled Nursing Facilities

The skilled nursing industry, which was greatly impacted by COVID- 19, has stabilized since the initiation of vaccinations among residents and staff. Infection rates and new cases have been on the decline since the beginning of this year. Skilled Nursing News reports that COVID-19 cases in February 2021 were the lowest in nursing homes since May 2020.

CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA), a professional services firm, has some promising news for the industry stating that occupancy rates are now also beginning to rise. In January of this year the national median occupancy for SNFs was 69.2% . In the end of February the rate rose to 69.7% . Some states have seen drastic increases such as West Virginia where the rate rose by 6.5% in the first two months of this year.

CLA reported that 48 states across the nation had occupancy rates under 80% in the beginning of 2021. However, now the rates are slowly rising with West Virginia leading with a median occupancy rate of 84.5%. Oklahoma reported the lowest median occupancy rate at 55.8%.

Prior to the pandemic the median national occupancy rate was 84.6%. Stephen Taylor, principal and CLA’s senior living segment leader, claims the industry has seen the lowest rates of the pandemic in the fourth quarter of 2020. It will be interesting is to see whether in a post-pandemic world the rates go back to the pre-pandemic averages or if there is a new “operational reality”.

In comparison to occupancy rates, staffing rates are still unstable across the nation especially for the nursing jobs. Certain states such as Maine have seen an increase in staffing shortages from November 2020 at 31.2% to February 2021 at 41.6%. Other states such as Washington reported a shortage of 40% at the end of November but only 30% at the end of February 2021.

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