Covid-19 in Nursing Homes: What Families can do to Help?

  • According to experts, nursing homes do not have adequate facilities to handle COVID-19 and related pandemics.
  • Accordingly, families who have loved ones in these facilities are advised to maintain healthy communication with as many nursing home employees as possible.
  • Families are also advised to FaceTime regularly with their loved ones and also give them good reading materials.

Covid 19 nursing homes - Copy
Photo Credit: WTHI-TV 10

At least 10,000 nursing home residents have died from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

As the death toll continues to rise, healthcare professionals in nursing homes are up and about struggling to cater for the health needs of a population who are subject to victimization by the pandemic.

According to a nursing home physical therapist, 85% of nursing home deaths have been in people that over 65 years of age. This statistic has been confirmed by the CDC. This indicates a trend.

Nursing home residents tend to have the highest mortality and symptoms because this is where we have a large senior population with underlying health conditions. There are more fatalities in these facilities not because the residents are not adequately cared for, but because they are already frail.

According to the CDC, the nursing home situation can best be described as “dire,” and they are working around the clock to track cases in nursing homes and care facilities.

It is now the responsibility of these facilities to report cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as to the families and loved ones of the patients.

Many countries are segregated by age. In the United States, for instance, only 13% of older people reside with extended family members. And so, once a catastrophe hits, it becomes a very serious pandemic.

Analyzing nursing homes

A New York Times analysis found that the ten most fatal COVID-19 clusters in the USA occurred in nursing homes. For instance, the Life Care Center in Kirkland recorded 43 deaths in February.

The facility paid a whopping $611,000 for its response.

That’s not the right way to solve the problems. The Federal Government must take a critical look at nursing homes. It may not be fair to saddle nursing homes with fines as they are trying hard to figure out what’s happening.

Laws regulating the number of staff assigned to a patient are too low in nursing facilities, many of which may be reluctant to accommodate new patients while the current lockdown is ongoing.

Nursing homes fully understand that they may be targeted in lawsuits when the lockdown is relaxed.

Nursing homes may have to establish partnerships with health plans. They may have to boost nursing ratios. Already, they are operating on a thin margin. They may need at least a year to fill 50 beds. The health of the staff may be at risk, and they get scared and fail to show up.

Nursing homes are not well equipped

Old age and underlying medical problems of the patients are key factors that work against nursing homes.

Also, most facilities are not fully equipped with the right equipment and expertise to tackle a deadly pandemic.

Facilities are not required to have an in-house physician. Sometimes, one medical director may have to oversee several facilities at a time and is available on the telephone. Long-term care facilities depend on 911 and patient transport to local healthcare centers for the most minor issues.

The fact is that nursing homes were not prepared for a strange COVID-19 pandemic. The only personal protective equipment that they use are gowns, gloves, and masks. There are no isolation rooms. What’s the need for an isolation room when you can make a profit from all the rooms and beds?

Well, there’s the claim that facilities are doing what they can with what they have at hand.

Well, according to Nursing home experts, it is important to understand how the United States medical system works before assuming that nursing homes are not caring enough for everyone’s loved ones. Hospitals are most prepared for the pandemic because they have the medical history of their patients, a large employ of specialists, physicians, and special equipment. They have well-equipped intensive care units and monitoring systems.

On the other hand, nursing homes are designed to cater to people who are fairly stable medically, just needing further supervision and support.

The role of families

Transitioning someone into a nursing home can be very difficult.

The key is communication with the nursing staff. Do not hesitate to ask questions, especially about staff strength.

You cannot bear the thought that you have your loved one lodged in a facility where they may contract an infection at any time and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Once you have a loved one in a nursing home, what you should do is communicate constantly.

Telephone the facility. Talk to the director. Communicate with the director of nursing. If you can, talk to the very staff assigned to care for your loved one. Just be rest assured that everything will be fine at the end of the day.