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Residents Matter: More is Needed to Protect Residents and Staff from COVID-19

April 17, 2020

The Consumer Voice learns daily of more suffering and death in America’s nursing homes and assisted living and like many, we are deeply grieved.  At the same time, we are learning what is working in some long-term care facilities to protect the lives of residents and staff.

Consumer voices are needed NOW to draw attention to the problems and solutions that are desperately needed to protect the 2.4 million people who live in these facilities.

Advocacy action is needed at every level - voices that say:

“The residents of these facilities matter - they are our loved ones, our teachers, our service people who fought for this country, our friends. Their needs for testing, protective gear, infection control, and enough staff must be prioritized to protect residents, the dedicated staff who serve them, and the communities around the facilities.   Residents matter, and they need help now.  This truly is a matter of life and death.”

Take the steps below:

Send emails and letters now.

If you have a personal story include it as briefly and concisely as possible.  Use our advocacy tool to target your message to the White House, Congress, State Legislators and CMS. You can also print and mail your messages.

Include this list of basic solutions that need to be implemented in each state.

  1. Establish a State-level COVID Response Team immediately that will focus on and prioritize activities that impact residents of long-term care facilities including, at a minimum, the State Long Term Care Ombudsman, and representatives of public health, regulatory agencies, and the CDC.

    • Teams should be dispatched immediately to each nursing home to do an assessment of conditions, including presence of COVID-19, numbers of residents and staff affected, availability of PPE and testing kits, availability of staff, and to review the facility’s emergency preparedness and infection control and mitigation protocols. This will help direct resources to where they're needed the most.

  2. Establish Distinct COVID-19 only Facilities or Units so that residents and staff without COVID can be protected and residents with COVID can receive appropriate care.

  3. Require Transparency of Information about the extent of COVID-19 and staffing levels in each facility so that residents, family members, and the public can assess the situation and make important decisions.

  4. Provide Adequate PPE and Testing. PPE is essential so staff have the proper equipment to do their jobs and because it protects them and residents from the virus. Testing ensures that appropriate decisions can be made about how and where care is to be provided.  PPE and testing save lives.

  5. Support Direct Caregivers and other Essential Workers involved in providing care. Those working in nursing homes and assisted living are society’s lifeline to residents. They are truly essential workers and deserve compensation and benefits to support their efforts.

Share your concerns on any local, state, or federal conference calls or town hall meetings about COVID. 

Many Senators, Congressmen, Mayors, and other political leaders are hosting calls where you can ask questions.  Implore your elected leaders to address the needs of long-term care residents.

Share the information with organizations and others that address aging issues – AARP, aging networks, resident and family councils, faith communities, etc.  

Ask them to contact the decision makers in your state and promote these solutions as ways to protect residents.

For more information about COVID-19 and what you can do to help, visit our comprehensive COVID-19 Information Page.

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