By Leigh Ann Hubbard

At the fall 2022 AHCA/NCAL conference, which focuses on long-term care, I asked as many operators as I could this penetrating question: How’s it going out there? 

The point was to gauge the pulse of the industry. The answers were interesting because there was a split … but also agreement.

Here’s the low-down. Does it match what you’re experiencing?

  • Assisted living: Pandemic? Been there, done that. This is the new normal. Most of those who didn’t quit — who made it out the other side still in senior living — are resilient, positive, and solutions-minded, focused on figuring out how to move forward in the best ways they can.
  • Skilled nursing: Sighs and exhausted stares. Some people have positive outlooks, but others are beaten down. Resilience here is more like tired resolution. Regulations are killing them, and they feel like they can’t win.
  • Everyone: How do we get more people to work ??!!

When it came to employment especially, attendees, no matter their sector, were ideas sponges, siphons, magnets — whatever you want to call it when there’s that open-eyed eagerness to find answers and try just about anything.

Freedom to Experiment

At NCAL Day — a full day targeting assisted living — there was a presentation about an apprenticeship program. NCAL executive director LaShuan Bethea openly referred to it as one of the things they’re “throwing at the wall to see what sticks.” (She says it’s going well.)

After two-and-a-half years of not having all the answers, there was an acceptance that, well, we don’t have all the answers — especially regarding workforce issues.

Because of that, a certain freedom was in the air. Speakers would admit from the podiums that they’re still trying to figure certain things out. Audience members would share what they’re trying. There were lots of smiles, chuckles, and knowing glances — camaraderie in the trenches.

In coming articles, we’ll share some of the many ideas from conference attendees.

Meantime, we’d love to hear from you: How’s it going out there?