SNFs Struggle with Occupancy Rates with Ongoing Staffing Challenges and the Delta Variant

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on unprecedented challenges for the skilled nursing industry. Variants like Delta and staffing shortages have made occupancy recovery for the industry unpredictable. Earlier, recovery was expected by end of 2021. However, Skilled Nursing News reports recovery now will take much longer and possibly occur in 2022.

Facilities have been struggling with occupancy rates and the uncertainty of when the pandemic will be over. With an unpredictable future, it has been difficult for facilities to create any organizational plans as while facing this “logistical challenge.”

One facility owner presumed occupancy to recover when vaccines were rolled out or when schools opened. However, SNFs continue to struggle as they battle “workforce challenges and delta.”

SNFs have seen a slow but steady recovery since the vaccination program began in January of this year. However, Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of American Health Care Association (AHCA) stated recovery has “stagnated” since June when it hit a 73% occupancy rate. In mid-September that number rose by only 0.5% to 73.5%. In pre-COVID times, the average rate was 84.7%. The NIC MAP data from NIC MAP Vision implies this stagnation has been caused by the new delta variant.

One facility in Denver pivoted to provide more short-term rehab services as a way to offset occupancy rate shortages. However, even as they continued to find residents to care for, they struggled to find staff to provide the appropriate care. Due to this, they had to turn away new potential admissions.

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