Staffing Shortages in Iowa Nursing Homes are Almost Twice the National Average

(Radio Iowa) Staffing shortages in Iowa nursing homes remain “alarmingly high” and are almost twice the national average, according to the state director of AARP Iowa. Brad Anderson says staffing shortages can lead to poor resident care and, in some unfortunate cases, serious neglect.

“Forty-two percent of (Iowa) nursing homes are experiencing a staffing shortage, compared to the national average of 22%,” Anderson says, “which obviously has an enormous impact on resident care.” One reason for the high rate of staffing shortages in Iowa is too many nursing home beds for staff to cover, he says, especially in rural areas. Anderson says he’d like to see more money devoted to home-based care instead of institutional care, as surveys show an overwhelming majority of people would rather stay in their own homes. Another problem, he says, is pay.

“The wages for direct care workers still remains about $16 an hour, which is too low, frankly,” Anderson says. “We need to do a better job of boosting wages for direct care workers and improving their working conditions, without a doubt.” The state legislature recently devoted an additional $15 million in Medicaid funding to Iowa nursing homes, money Anderson says needs to be directed toward solving what he calls a “staffing crisis.” He says Iowans who are looking for a nursing home for themselves or a loved one can find plenty of data online, including where staffing is an issue.

“ has great resources when it comes to looking at nursing homes,” Anderson says. “They rank them and you can basically get a score on whatever nursing home is in your community and see if they have staffing shortages or not online.” Iowa now has 430 nursing homes. Since January of 2022, at least 21 have closed.