Resident talks with nursing home staff

COVID-19 Emergency Status to End, but Nursing Home Conditions Remain Dire

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges and changes to the healthcare industry, particularly in nursing homes. These facilities were the center of the highest COVID-19 infection rates and deaths. As a result, staffing shortages in nursing homes skyrocketed, putting thousands of residents at risk of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Since the Biden-Harris Administration declared the pandemic a national emergency in March 2020, the federal government eased certain restrictions for nursing homes and sent facilities additional funding.

While much of the U.S. is seeing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths decline, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are still struggling with outbreaks, staffing shortages, and other problems impacting the health and safety of their vulnerable residents.

The end of the COVID-19 emergency declaration could put nursing homes in even worse shape than before.

Have you noticed signs of nursing home abuse? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Higher Standards for Staff Training, Staff Retention Remain Low

To ease staffing shortages in the early days of the pandemic, President Biden’s emergency COVID-19 declaration lightened certain staff training requirements.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 400,000 workers left the nursing home and residential care industry in 2020. Only 100,000 nursing home jobs have been filled since.

Prior to the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) required staff to undergo 75 hours or more of training within 4 months of employment. CMS dramatically reduced the training requirement in an effort to keep individuals employed in facilities for longer and on the floor working with residents sooner.

Unfortunately, advocates say these relaxed requirements for staff training have allowed poor conditions within facilities to go unchecked. With less than a quarter of nursing home staff jobs being recovered since 2020, the lack of training seems to have had minimal impact on improving staffing shortages and an even worse impact on the standard of care residents receive.

Advocates are eager to see training requirements tighten again. Nursing home staff are critical in providing daily necessities for residents, from delivering meals to administering important medications. Without adequate training, the risk of falls, injuries, and even wrongful death increases.

Experts have also said more training is necessary to keep staff from burning out and to help them feel supported. Sadly, 17 states have already sought exemptions from the 75 hours of training requirement.

Nursing Homes Lose Funding and Resource Aid

Nursing homes are already short on funding causing too many small facilities in rural areas to shut their doors. The COVID-19 emergency declaration allocated additional funding to nursing homes through the Provider Relief Fund.

This additional funding allowed facilities to not only provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize COVID-19 infections but also made it possible to replace deteriorating equipment. Some facilities even covered additional staff salaries through the relief funds.

As the emergency declaration ends, nursing homes may not be eligible for additional funding from the Provider Relief Fund. Staff may lose appropriate PPE increasing the risk of illnesses spreading to not only fellow staff members but also to residents.

With more and more nursing home staff unhappy with pay or working conditions, understaffing issues will continue to rise. Residents are already put at risk of neglect and abuse every day. Without strict guidelines from lawmakers and ways to hold nursing home facilities accountable, residents are unsafe.

Help Keep Nursing Homes Residents Safe From Abuse

Nursing home management for too long has put profits over the quality of care for their residents. As the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends, they can no longer hide under the excuse of the pandemic. Instead, it’s crucial they work to improve conditions, training, and wages for nursing home staff.

Nursing Home Abuse Justice is here to advocate for change to protect residents from abuse and neglect. We believe everyone deserves dignified care.

If someone you love has experienced nursing home abuse or negligence, our team at Nursing Home Abuse Justice is here for you. Call us at (800) 896-7040 to see how we can help you.

Nursing Home Abuse Justice was founded to shine a light on nursing home and elder abuse. Every day, thousands of people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are abused. Our team helps educate seniors and their loved ones on the common causes, signs and preventions of nursing home abuse. We report on real-world studies and current events from respected news outlets to expose this national problem.

ReferencesView References
  1. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2022). “Nursing Facility Staffing Shortages During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Retrieved from: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/nursing-facility-staffing-shortages-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/. Accessed April 18, 2023.
  2. Philly Voice. “End of COVID-19 emergency will usher in changes across the U.S. health system.” Retrieved from: https://www.phillyvoice.com/covid-19-emergency-policy-changes-hospitals-nursing-homes-addiction/. Accessed April 18, 2023.
  3. The New York Times. “U.S. Plans to End Public Health Emergency for Covid in May.” Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/30/us/politics/biden-covid-public-health-emergency.html. Accessed April 18, 2023.
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National): Nursing and residential care facilities.” Retrieved from: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES6562300001?amp%253bdata_tool=XGtable&output_view=data&include_graphs=true. Accessed April 18, 2023.
  5. U.S. White House. “Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-⁠19) Pandemic.” Retrieved from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2023/02/10/notice-on-the-continuation-of-the-national-emergency-concerning-the-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-pandemic-3/. Accessed April 18, 2023.