What Changes Are Needed Following the Pandemic to Protect Residents?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, several flaws in the nursing home system have been identified and exacerbated. From understaffing to misuse of protective equipment, the general public has become increasingly aware of the ways in which the nursing home system needs to be improved. Many of the issues have been prevalent within the system even before the pandemic, but with residents contracting COVID-19 and dying at inordinate rates, reform within the system is being called for at a higher rate than before.

But what changes are specifically needed in order to better protect residents of nursing homes around the country from COVID-19 and future pandemics?

One of the major issues in the nursing home system that has contributed to the spread of the virus within the facilities is the shared living space. Facilities have anywhere from one to four residents sharing a bedroom or bathroom space, increasing the chance of physical contact and the spread of disease. Redesigning the space to reduce contact will also likely reduce revenue for many facilities, especially if shared living quarters are also redesigned to house only one occupant. This may leave facilities leaning on federal funding in the aftermath of the pandemic to keep their facilities running, but also may hinder efforts to improve the quality of life for the residents.

Combating the lack of hygiene could be an easier remedy than the logistical issues of space and revenue. Federal inspections found handwashing to be an issue of hygiene within many nursing homes, as well as the misuse of the Personal Protective Equipment the healthcare professionals use to keep themselves and the residents safe. Reviewing and enforcing the proper etiquette with these procedures can be a way to decrease the spread of diseases—even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. A recent study claimed that there were more cases in facilities that had more staff in relation to the patients saw fewer cases, suggesting that moving forward, facilities may be recommended to increase the ratio of healthcare professionals to residents.

Many facilities are turning to social isolation at the moment, limiting visitors (or banning them altogether), and keeping residents in their room most of the time. However, this way of life is unsustainable for long periods of time, as there can be detrimental effects on the mental and physical well-being of the elderly if kept in complete isolation. Nursing homes will be tasked to find a balance between allowing social interaction but also protecting its residents from possible contagion in the future.

Facilities may also face legal changes. During the pandemic, there have been lawsuits taken out against nursing homes in which loved ones died. With so many legal issues, nursing homes may have issues finding insurance to provide coverage for them in the event of another pandemic. This may force some nursing homes to close, but those that stay open will want to avoid future situations where personal injury lawsuits may be taken against them, and will likely try to improve the quality of living amongst their residents.

Have Questions About Nursing Homes and the Pandemic? Call Kwartler Manus Today

The experienced and compassionate team at Kwartler Manus, LLC is here to provide you with skilled representation when dealing with legal issues surrounding nursing homes and the pandemic. Contact us online or by phone at (267) 214-8608 to schedule a consultation today.

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