Jun 5, 2023 - News

Iowa's nursing home worker shortage is double the national average

Illustration of a nurse walking with an elderly man.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Nursing home worker shortages continue to plague Iowa, Brad Anderson, state director of AARP of Iowa tells Axios.

Why it matters: Staffing shortages can result in subpar or even neglectful care in nursing homes — and nearly 42% of Iowa's facilities have a shortage of nurses and aides.

Zoom in: Rural nursing homes are especially facing "over-bedding," or when the capacity for residents is too high compared to staffing, Anderson says.

  • Rural towns lean older, making it harder to properly staff nursing homes.
  • There's also a lack of incentive to enter the care industry, which has an average hourly rate of $16, according to AARP of Iowa.

What they're saying: Iowa lawmakers approved $15 million earlier this year to go towards nursing homes and adjusting Medicaid rates for inflation.

  • Anderson says he wants to see that funding help go towards alleviating worker shortages.

The big picture: More older Iowans are wanting to "stay-in-place" and live out their lives in their current homes, rather than the U.S. cultural norm of going to a care facility, Anderson says. That could help lower the need for more nursing home workers.

  • Working towards this dynamic could include funding amenities like smart technology, voice control or grips for bathrooms, Anderson says.
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