More than 2 years after the COVID pandemic began, a new report finds most nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New Jersey and beyond continue to face serious staffing issues and some economic problems as well.

The American Health Care Association survey finds:

— 60% of nursing home providers in Jersey and across the country report their workforce situation has gotten worse since the beginning of this year.

— 87% are currently facing moderate to high staffing shortages

— 98% are experiencing difficulty hiring staff.

— 99% of nursing home providers are asking staff to work overtime or extra shifts.

— 76% say their current financial situation and lack of funding is an obstacle in being able to offer competitive wages to hire new staff.

Andy Aronson, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, said to address these issues, “obviously we want to pay more to the workers, but we’re also trying to get to people who are going into the health care field earlier, you know in high school, in college.”

Let them know about long-term care as a career

He said it’s important to let people know about the benefits of a career in long-term care.

“By getting to people earlier in the process we think we can be successful in attracting people into the industry and that’s really where people are focused right now.”

Nursing home
Yuri Arcurs, ThinkStock
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He noted the starting salary for a certified nurses aid is around $18 an hour but “what facilities have found is that the competition is with other employers, whether it be Amazon or some of these other large employers in New Jersey. We have to offer competitive wage and benefit packages.”

Aronson said while the staffing shortage at long-term care facilities is as bad as it’s ever been, he insisted there are still enough workers to provide the essential care that is needed for current residents.

Current residents should still get high-quality care

He said the staffing crunch “shouldn’t affect the patients and residents who are in those facilities, they should still be receiving high-quality care. What it impacts is the ability of these facilities to take in new residents.”

He said right now “in most regions of the state you have multiple facilities and at least some of those facilities will take in new patients.”

He said the benefits of working in a long-term care facility are many.

“You get to know your residents and patients, you get to know their families, you really get to touch their lives and develop a connection with the people you care for,” he said.

Aronson said efforts continue to look for ways to put financial backing into the system to try to encourage more people to choose a career in long-term care.

“We’re working together with the state government and a lot of other interested parties to try to make good things happen,” he said.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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