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AARP Urges Legislators to Protect Nursing Home Residents

Home healthcare nurse with senior adult patient. Medications.
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Media Contact: Cathleen Simlar

Lansing, MI - As the number of COVID-19 cases declines nationwide, and here in Michigan, AARP continues to fight for much-needed nursing home reforms and booster shots.

The latest data from the Dashboard, covering the four-week period ending February 20th, shows that 85.4% of nursing home residents in Michigan were fully vaccinated with a booster dose, a slight increase from mid-January. Only 28% of direct care staff had received a booster, a slight increase from mid-January.

“Boosters save lives and are helping to prevent infections and severe illness,” said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP, which serves nearly 1.3 million members age 50 and older in Michigan.  “While hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is behind us, it isn’t over. The delivery of booster doses to nursing home residents and staff remains critical to protecting our most vulnerable.”

Here in Michigan, staff cases decreased from a rate of 19.9 per 100 residents in January to 8.8 in February. Resident cases decreased from a rate of 8.1 to 4.6 during this same time period. Nursing home resident deaths from COVID-19 remained the same at a rate of .31.

"The pandemic has highlighted the chronic, ongoing issues that have long plagued nursing homes—understaffing, poor infection control, overcrowding, and more,” said Lisa Dedden Cooper, AARP Manager of Advocacy. "Now is the time to address these problems that jeopardize the health and safety of nursing home residents."  

AARP Michigan continues to fight for reforms to protect nursing home residents and ensure long-term care facilities provide high-quality care.

Most recently, AARP Michigan celebrated the bipartisan passage of HB 5523, Michigan’s recently enacted supplemental appropriations bill, which funds a pilot to begin the transformation toward single room occupancy as the norm for nursing home care. AARP has long advocated for improving the quality and safety of care at nursing homes and points to Green Houses or ‘small house nursing homes’ as a care model to emulate. With just 10-12 residents, Green Houses feature private rooms and bathrooms and during the coronavirus pandemic fared significantly better than residents of traditional nursing homes with significantly fewer resident cases of COVID-19 and fewer deaths.

The AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard analyzes federally reported data in four-week periods going back to June 1, 2020. Using this data, the AARP Public Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio, created the dashboard to provide snapshots of the virus’ infiltration into nursing homes and impact on nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of identifying specific areas of concern at the national and state levels in a timely manner.

The full Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard is available at www.aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard, and an AARP story about this month’s data is available here. For more information on how coronavirus is impacting nursing homes and AARP’s advocacy on this issue, visit www.aarp.org/nursinghomes. Medicare.gov’s Care Compare website now offers information about vaccination and booster rates within individual nursing homes and how they compare to state and national averages.

 

About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

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