The pandemic has made staffing at nursing homes even more challenging. But for the first time, it's easier for people in the U.S. to find out what staff turnover is like at nursing homes in their area.
Medicare is now posting those details on its Care Compare website. Visitors can select a particular nursing home and then click to view staffing information.
Experts like Dr. David Gifford with the American Health Care Association say staffing turnovers at nursing homes are often high because of how payments are structured.
"We've historically been known to have a high turnover, as other sectors are too, and a lot of it relates back to that most of the nursing homes paid by Medicaid," Gifford said. "We just weren't able to offer the competitive wages that hospitals and other health care providers are."
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has researched the links between staff turnover and quality of care. Initial results suggest that as staff turnover decreases, the overall quality rating for a facility increases.
Starting this summer, the agency will use staff turnover information to calculate facility quality ratings.
Giffords says many workers at nursing homes do want to stay in their jobs. But he points to factors like low wages or child care problems as reasons for leaving.
"The staff there really do end up caring for the residents, almost as if their family members, and so it's very hard when someone leaves," he said. "We need to recognize that, and I think this data just shows that not making nursing homes sort of a priority has led to more turnover, and we need to solve that root problem with this information."
Medicare says posting the new turnover information for consumers won't create additional paperwork burdens for nursing homes. The data is already regularly reported to the government — it's just now becoming accessible to the public.