2020 will be remembered as one of the worst years for the nursing home industry. Of the 500,000+ coronavirus deaths in the United States, over a third came from nursing home residents and staff. In some states, that figure is over half. Hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents and staff have died, affecting millions of friends and family members.
While the elderly and chronically ill are uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus, the actions of nursing homes contributed to the heavy casualties. Many facilities forced healthy residents to share rooms with residents who had tested positive for COVID-19. Experimental treatments were given to residents without their family’s knowledge, including antibiotic cocktails that had no effect on a viral disease. Furthermore, banning family visits to residents proved ineffective as nursing home staff became vectors for disease transmission. Even now there exist nursing home workers who refuse to accept the coronavirus vaccine. Taking all these missteps together, it’s no surprise that 1 in 2 Americans feel more negatively toward nursing homes than they did prior to the pandemic.
From falling occupancy to rising costs, 90% of nursing homes are in financial danger. As of right now, 65% of nursing homes are operating at a loss while 25% more have a margin below 25%. If their problems are not addressed in the near term, many long term care facilities will be forced to close their doors. This is a problem because despite nursing homes being deeply unpopular, they are a needed service for many senior citizens. As the American population ages, their services will be in greater demand than ever before.
Already, 3 in 4 adults have changed how they think about the future. 40% are now more willing to save for long term care while 33.3% have taken action to financially prepare for the eventuality. If nursing homes close today, they won’t be around for when these people need them most.
The Way Forward
Going forward, nursing homes need to disinfect both their facilities and their reputation. Cleanliness has grown to the #3 concern prospective residents have about long term care facilities. The two rankings above are staff attitude and responsiveness. Importantly, Black and Latino families rank cleanliness higher when looking for a nursing home. As more diverse generations age, cleaning will continue to be key.
Fortunately, there are several simple strategies nursing homes can introduce to improve their cleanliness outcomes. Promoting frequent and proper handwashing by staff, visitors, and residents can reduce the infections found on surfaces. One-step multi surface cleaner can erase the infections from surfaces altogether through consistent use.
These strategies are not just safeguards against coronavirus, but a whole host of other infections common in nursing homes, such as lower respiratory tract infections and sepsis Improved surface cleaning and disinfection may be able to reduce healthcare-associated infections by as high a percentage as 85%.
To survive pandemics, the future of nursing homes needs to be a clean one. See the following visual deep dive for more: