Some group homes on ‘verge of collapse’ due to staffing shortages, state senator warns

Sen. Jim Abeler sounded the alarm over the staffing shortage, saying in a statement that some group homes are "on the verge of collapse."

State Sen. Jim Abeler/Minnesota Senate

A Minnesota state senator is calling on Gov. Tim Walz to deploy the National Guard to help severely understaffed group homes.

Sen. Jim Abeler, a Republican from Anoka, has sounded the alarm over the staffing shortage, saying in a statement last Thursday that some group homes are “on the verge of collapse.”

“With some of our group homes on the verge of collapse, it is long overdue for Gov. Walz to call on the National Guard and provide critically needed assistance to these facilities,” he said. “This is a people-focused issue, not a political issue, and serves to ensure our loved ones have a place to receive the necessary care.”

“Group home” is an umbrella term referring to a private facility that provides shelter and care for a variety of people, including the disabled, mentally ill, seniors, and so on. Their staffing shortages are just as critical and devastating as those in Minnesota hospitals — if not more so.

One Minnesota group home serving the needs of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Mount Olivet Rolling Acres, is so understaffed that residents in its 30 group homes will have to move into “temporary accommodations in other group homes” or back in with their families.

“We are no longer in a crisis. We are in an emergency. We are in a dire situation. I currently have 80 open positions. I am operating at 50% of my shifts open at any time,” said Tracy Murphy, president of Mount Olivet Rolling Acres, who added that many residents lack the ability to understand the decision to move.

“Imagine you don’t have the autonomy to make your own decisions. How are you going to process that stress when you are told that we are changing your routine?” she told MinnPost.

Furthermore, a statewide survey last October found that there were an estimated 23,000 open senior caregiver positions. The survey also reported that around 70% of nursing homes were temporarily “capping” new admissions, leaving understaffed hospitals to hold on to patients who ought to be cared for in homes.