High staff turnover puts US nursing homes in peril


High turnover among staff at nursing homes in the US likely contributed to the deaths at the facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new study.

“It was really staggering,” David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the study’s authors, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by The New York Times (NYT).

The study, which was published on Monday in Health Affairs, a health policy journal, examined the turnover rates in 15,645 nursing homes across the country, accounting for nearly all of the facilities certified by the federal government, Xinhua news agency reported.

The researchers found the average annual rate was 128 per cent, with some facilities experiencing turnover that exceeded 300 per cent.

Inadequate staffing and low pay have long plagued US nursing homes and quality of care for the more than 1 million residents who live in these facilities. But the pandemic has exposed these issues even more sharply, said the NYT report.

The high turnover rate likely made it harder for nursing homes to put in place strong infection controls during the pandemic, and led to rampant spread of the coronavirus, said Ashvin Gandhi, the lead author and an assistant professor at the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management.

The nursing home death toll accounts for more than one-third of all Covid-19 deaths in the US which has increased to a total of 516,476, the highest in the world.