Article by Mcknights Long-term Care News

“COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on the nursing home industry and the challenges that nursing home owners, operators, administrators and other top managers face in keeping residents safe and well.

They’ve been the subject of a mountain of press and social media attention; bloodied by some and treated a little more kindly by others.

Regardless of the tone of the commentators, the intent has been clear — COVID-19 should be a wake-up call for the industry, and the government agencies, elected officials and public that impact it.

The message to nursing homes is similar to that for almost every other industry (and every aspect of daily life for that matter) — the world has changed. What they’ve done in the past is not what they’ll do in the future. Their customers and stakeholders will want and expect more — and better.

Milton Friedman said: “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”

The bad news is that there’s a crisis. The good news is that there are plenty of ideas to improve nursing home care lying around.

The industry has the opportunity to tap into these ideas and lead — to be the architect of the new normal.

A sampling of those ideas:

Address the fundamental problems that contribute to lower quality care and infection control — too few staff to serve residents, inadequate training provided to front line workers, and low wages and poor benefits that lead to high levels of direct care staff turnover and increased use of temporary employees that travel from facility to facility.
Add specificity to vague rules. For example: the rule that says that nursing homes must employ staff “sufficient to meet resident needs.” A consumer finds that language meaningless, regulators find it unenforceable. It’s like trying to control speeding on the interstate by posting a sign that says “Drive at a safe speed.” Minimum thresholds for numbers of frontline staff are essential if a goal of providing consistent high quality care will be met.?”

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