As COVID-19 cases in Washington continue to climb, AARP renewed its call for Governor Inslee 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 Washington’s nursing homes, including rising resident and staff cases, as well as shortages of staff and personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Washington nursing homes have received $91.7 million in state and federal funding intended to keep residents safe, but too many measures continue to move in the wrong direction,” said AARP Advocacy Director Cathy MacCaul. “While proper funding is critically important to protecting nursing home residents from sickness, isolation and neglect, specifics about how it has and will be used must be publicly available—and facilities must be held accountable for spending this funding for the health and safety of residents and staff.”
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 Washington nursing homes COVID-19 cases per 100 residents more than doubled from 1.1 to 2.6 in the four-week period. In addition, 28% of nursing homes report they do not have a 1-week supply of PPE and 38% report staffing shortages.
AARP has called for the enactment of a plan to protect nursing home and long-term care facility residents:
- Improve transparency and accountability for state and federal funding that goes to facilities.
- Prioritize regular and ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff—as well as inspectors and any visitors.
- 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.
“Nine months since COVID-19 entered nursing homes, cases are rising again,” MacCaul added. “This is a tragedy that must be addressed. Our state leaders need to act to keep residents safe and hold nursing homes accountable.”
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.