Throughout the decades I’ve served in healthcare, I’ve held various administrative roles for numerous facilities in multiple states, and reimagining and redesigning our long-term eldercare system has always been my mission.
The need for a revolution in our nursing home facilities is even clearer and more urgent today, considering the gruesome statistics coming out of our battle with Covid19 in this country.
Covid19 in US Nursing Homes
Consider the following news release just a few days ago:
Police recently found more than a dozen bodies at a nursing home in Northwestern New Jersey. These were among the 68 total deaths linked to the home, including residents and two nurses, according to the New York Times. At least 28 of the deaths were directly related to COBIT 19 and more than 100 residents and staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus in that facility.
As of Saturday, April 19, 2020, there were 717,000 cases of coronavirus in the US with just over 33,000 deaths.
The alarming revelation in this horrendous data is approximately a fifth of all Covid19 deaths in the US are linked to nursing homes or some other type of long-term eldercare facilities. NBC News reviewed state health data that puts the number at more than 5600 nursing home deaths directly related to the virus.
Tragically, the numbers are likely much higher because many states and counties have not yet provided detailed information about all their facilities. Florida, for example, is reported to have refused to disclose their information as it relates to Covid19 and nursing homes. Additionally, the number of deaths given by many states doesn’t include patients or residents who died without being tested for the virus.
Currently, there are almost 3500 eldercare facilities in 39 states with documented coronavirus infections, according to the research done by NBC News. Former lieutenant governor of New York, Betsy McCaughey recently voiced her concerns, pointing out the fact our nursing homes are “already overwhelmed, crowded and understaffed. One Covid-positive patient in a nursing home produces carnage.”
The Future of Senior Living
My vision for the future of senior living is vastly different from what currently exists. It can’t be done by merely building more of the same as what we already have. It will take more than refurbishing, repairing or repainting what’s already there.
Revolutionizing our eldercare system involves much more than dressing up the system we currently have in place. That system needs to be taken out, taken apart, and rebuilt from the bottom up.
We have to show as much care for the people who staff these facilities as we do for the people who reside within them. Entertainment and hospitality need to be on an equal footing with safety and clinical operations.
We need to make sure the human element remains a vital part of long-term senior living facilities. We need to show love, respect culture, and continually strive to inspire and motivate. There needs to be a spark of life injected into every aspect of everything we say and do. And we need to do this for both the residents and the staff.
Changes this big are not easy to make, but the rewards they produce are immeasurable. Doing whatever it takes to see these changes come to fruition has always been, and will always be, my primary mission and my ultimate goal.