LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country and in Arkansas are at risk of closing because of staffing shortages and higher operating costs. The industry is one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and is struggling to recover.

According to a survey by the American Health Association, 87% of longterm care providers are facing moderate to high staffing shortages. This means more employees are working longer hours and extra shifts to make up the difference.

Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association Executive Director, Phyllis Bell said in the last few years, about ten assisted living facilities have closed.

She said this is limiting access which is so important for our most vulnerable.

“Caring for our elders is work that we should respect and promote because they are our families and our neighbors that we’re caring for,” Bell said.

She said her agency is looking at ways to get more people interested in the career field.

“We have to be creative. We have to be creative. I know some of the providers are working with high schools to see if they’re interested in the health care industry to care for others,” Bell said.

She said as an agency, they are working with state leaders to address the issue as well, hoping to find a solution sooner rather than later.