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AARP TO CANDIDATES: TELL VOTERS HOW YOU WILL IMPROVE VIRGINIA’S NURSING HOMES

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RICHMOND – With the coronavirus pandemic exposing problems in our long-term care system, strong majorities of Virginia voters support proposals that would improve the quality of care that nursing home residents receive, according to results of a recent AARP Virginia voter survey. The need for reform is also highlighted by the release today of the October AARP Nursing Home Dashboard, revealing an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths among Virginia’s nursing home residents for the four weeks ending Sept. 19.

As part of its long-standing, nonpartisan work to have candidates discuss their plans on important issues, AARP Virginia asked likely voters age 18 and older about their concerns about nursing home safety. The survey was conducted in August by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University.

The survey reveals that more than 7-in-10 (71%) of all voters support the establishment of minimum hourly staffing thresholds, with support consistent across genders, age groups, and regions. This proposal is supported by almost 8-in-10 (78%) moderate voters and nearly two-thirds (62%) of conservative voters.

"Candidates, we want to hear how you'll improve the quality of care provided in nursing homes," said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. "Virginia's most vulnerable residents need leadership from you, and voters want it."

More than three-quarters (77%) of all voters support providing a living wage to paid caregivers in nursing homes, with support nearly identical among age groups and voters in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Clear majorities of moderate voters (81%) and conservative voters (60%) support this proposal.

The strongest proposal tested was to require nursing homes to provide infection control training to staff, with 85% of voters supporting it. Support was strong among Black voters (93%), and 76% of voters describing themselves as “very conservative.”

The October AARP Nursing Home Dashboard released today shows that 30% of Virginia’s nursing homes have staffing shortages, the highest since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The data are for nursing home cases of COVID-19 and deaths among residents and staff for the four-week period ending Sept. 19, 2021. The data show that Virginia’s nursing homes had 2.7 cases of the virus per 100 residents, more than five times higher than the previous month, and higher than the national average of 1.82 cases per 100. The October dashboard shows Virginia with .23 nursing home resident deaths per 100 residents, an up from .01 per 100 in the previous month. More than 87% of Virginia’s nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, the dashboard shows.

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

In addition to releasing these survey findings, AARP Virginia this week will engage voters and candidates with social media efforts that highlight the need for nursing home reform as an election issue, including a digital video. AARP Virginia is also reaching out to voters with information and resources to help them vote safely, whether in-person or from home, which can be found at www.aarp.org/VaVotes

With approximately 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth. AARP does not endorse or contribute money to candidates, political parties, or campaigns.

Survey Methodology

The results of this poll are based on 800 interviews of registered Virginia voters who are likely general election voters, including 277 on landline and 523 on cell phone, conducted August 15-23, 2021. A likely general election voter is one who has voted in at least two of the last four general elections or is newly registered in the last 12 months and indicates they are enthusiastic and plan to vote in the upcoming November 2 election. The margin of error for the whole survey is +/-3.6% at the 95% level of confidence. This means that if 50% of respondents indicate a topline view on an issue, we can be 95% confident that the population’s view on that issue is somewhere between 46.4% and 53.6%. The margin of error for subgroups may be higher. All error margins have been adjusted to account for the survey’s design effect, which is 1.1 in this survey. The design effect is a factor representing the survey’s deviation from a simple random sample and takes into account decreases in precision due to sample design and weighting procedures. In addition to sampling error, the other potential sources of error include non-response, question wording, and interviewer error. Percentages may not equal 100 due to rounding. The response rate (AAPOR RRI Standard Definition) for the survey was 12%. Five callbacks were employed in the fielding process.

Live calling was conducted by Dynata. The data reported here are weighted using an iterative weighting process on region, age, race, sex, and education to reflect as closely as possible the population of Virginia’s November 2, 2021 electorate.

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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