As COVID-19 cases in New Hampshire continue to climb, AARP renewed its call for Governor Sununu and legislators to better protect nursing home residents and staff from the coronavirus. The latest release of the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard finds concerning trends in Granite State nursing homes, including rising shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and continuing staff shortages.
Using data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—which is self-reported by nursing homes—the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard to provide four-week snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff. This second dashboard aggregates and analyzes data from nursing homes covering three 4-week time intervals from mid-summer into fall: July 26-Aug. 23, Aug. 24-Sept. 20, and Sept. 21-Oct. 18.
For the period from Sept. 21-Oct. 18, AARP’s dashboard reports that:
- 52.9% of nursing homes without a 1-week supply of PPE, up from 50%
- 35.7% of nursing homes with staffing shortages
“Nine months since COVID-19 entered nursing homes, cases are rising again, and facilities still don’t have the PPE and staffing needed to protect residents, who are certainly among the Granite State’s most vulnerable,” says AARP NH State Director Todd Fahey. “This is a tragedy that must be addressed. Our state leaders need to act to keep residents safe, ensure that facilities have the supplies and resources they need to keep residents and staff safe and, once they have needed resources, to hold facilities accountable for ensuring the safety of this most vulnerable population.”
AARP has called for the enactment of a plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents:
- Prioritize adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
- Improve transparency focused on daily, public reporting of cases and deaths in facilities; communication with families about discharges and transfers; and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
- Ensure access to in-person visitation following federal and state guidelines for safety, and require continued access to virtual visitation for all residents.
- Ensure quality care for residents through adequate staffing, oversight, and access to in-person formal advocates, called long-term care Ombudsmen.
- Reject immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.
Fahey added: “COVID-19 is still spreading in the community. Continuing shortages of PPE and staff mean nursing homes aren’t prepared for another wave. Additionally, the shortages jeopardize the ability of these facilities to continue in-person visitation. Loneliness and isolation can have serious health consequences, and many residents have been unable to visit with their loved ones for months. The approaching holiday season will only make this time apart more heartbreaking.”
The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard will continue to be updated every four weeks. The complete dashboard is available at aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.
More resources and information on COVID-19 and nursing homes can be found at aarp.org/nursinghomes.