Nursing home residents are disproportionately affected by outbreaks. In fact, during the first year of the pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports those in long-term care facilities accounted for thirty-one percent of all US COVID-19 deaths as of June 30, 2021. The Omicron variant is the latest viral iteration and it is highly transmissible though it appears to be less virulent than its predecessor, the Delta variant. It seems COVID-19 in its many strains will linger for some time to come, disproportionately affecting the vulnerable. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, AARP has identified some specific questions to ask about the facility to help ensure the safety of your loved one.
Contact the facility and inquire about the status of COVID-19 vaccinations:
What percentage of staff and residents are completely immunized? Compare these vaccination rates to the state and national averages.
How are the staff and residents being educated about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness?
Are vaccines accessible to the personnel and residents who need them?
Has anyone in the facility tested positive in the past 2 weeks?
Anyone who has access to the facility, including employees, residents, customers, contractors, and maintenance personnel, should be included.
How many individuals have been found to be positive if COVID-19 is discovered
What is the facility testing policy? How frequently does the facility testing occur, and who is conducting it?
What steps is the facility taking to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks?
What are the security measures in place for people who work at the site, as well as others who come into contact with it?
What steps are being taken to deal with positive cases once they’ve been discovered? Is there a quarantine at home policy for staff? Are individuals placed in isolation units after the diagnosis?
What are the sanitization procedures and how often do they occur?
Is there a policy in place to promote social distance? What precautions are there for people sharing living spaces with others?
Is there sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, such as masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, and hand sanitizer?
Is there a strategy in place to increase supply if the answer is no? What are the measures in place while you’re waiting for more?
Is the staff properly educated on the proper application of each type of PPE?
What measures does the facility take to assist residents to maintain contact with their families and other loved ones?
Is there any opportunity for in-person visitation at the location? What infection control precautions are in place? Is compassionate end-of-life visitation allowed if there isn’t in-person visitation?
Is it possible for nursing home employees to communicate with residents by phone or video?
Is there a regular visiting time for residents to speak with family and loved ones?
How does the facility make sure that vital information is conveyed to residents and their families on a regular basis?
Is it feasible for residents, family members, and employees to determine facility-wide COVID-19 vaccination rates?
How long will it take to notify residents and their families or representatives if there is a COVID-19 case at the facility?
Is this information available by phone, email, website, or some other method?
Are there enough doctors, nurses, assistants, and other personnel on hand at the nursing home?
Do you have a strategy in place to meet the demands of nursing home residents, such as washing, feeding, physical therapy when necessary, drug administration, and social interaction if there are shortages?
How do you keep your healthy-living program running smoothly?
Is there a plan for incorporating social distance in exercises, entertainment, and socialization?
Is there a service outage, and if so, which ones?
If this is a little overwhelming and you’d like assistance call our office at 352-205-4455. We have the experience to make sure your loved one is safe and healthy in their nursing home environment. These tips will help ensure that they stay as comfortable as possible while living out their retirement years. Let us know how we can be of service!