McKnight’s LTC News Posts 2023 Outlook for Skilled Nursing & Interviews MedBest’s Katie Piperata!

By Kimberly Marselas, McKnights Long-Term Care News

Optimism for the skilled nursing sector is growing, with intense worries about staff shortages and less-than-desired occupancy starting to recede. But concerns about escalating financial pressures have swiftly moved into the void, according to findings from the McKnight’s 2023 Outlook Survey.

Thirty-one percent of all respondents said they were more optimistic about prospects for the industry in the coming year, up from just under 20% in the 2022 survey. The share that reported feeling less optimistic dropped from 57.7% in 2022 to 39.2% in 2023.

“Optimism is on the uptick, but it’s a guarded optimism, I think,” said Bob Lane, president and CEO of the American College of Health Care Administrators. “With this administration, you never know what they’re going to pull out of their pocket next and throw at us.”

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News garnered just under 1,000 responses from nursing home owners, C-suite leaders, administrators and nurse supervisors for its annual year-end survey. This year’s edition was conducted by email between Nov. 22 and Dec. 9.

Participation tripled over last year, when the staffing crisis was crystallizing and many facilities were facing new COVID outbreaks fueled by the emerging omicron variant.

This year, many of those who work in and run nursing homes are reporting a somewhat brighter outlook and putting less emphasis on COVID-related concerns such as vaccinations and infection control.

Still, the ongoing pandemic and the potential end of the federal public health emergency are influencing providers’ actions and attitudes, said Katie Piperata, a workforce architect and former nursing home administrator who recruits for long-term care search firm MedBest.

“Because a lot of the COVID resources are going away, a lot of providers are just trying to figure out how they will make ends meet,” Piperata told McKnight’s. “Their profit margins, their true profit margins without all the COVID assistance, are now worse than they ever were because the margins are so slim, if any. I don’t see a whole lot of my clients feeling better because now they’re just feeling the true outcome of all of this.”

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