As we all continue to navigate the pandemic, I wanted to make you all aware of a few important COVID-19 developments as they relate to senior care.
First, the White House is urging states make diligent efforts to test all nursing home residents and staff for the virus over the next two weeks. The directive came as a result of the federal government still being two weeks shy of reporting nationwide COVID-19 nursing home data.
Several states have committed to this community-wide testing, but others say it’s far from feasible with the limited number of tests available. Other states are requiring even more testing but in the end, adhering to the mandate will depend on whether or not facilities can get the necessary supplies.
As you know, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule earlier this month, requiring that skilled nursing facilities submit weekly information about COVID-19 infections and deaths to the agency and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). CMS Administrator Seema Verma has said that the first set of required COVID-19 data is expected to be published on Nursing Home Compare at the end of this month. However, information has already been released that indicates that close to one-third of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred among nursing home residents.
The consumer-facing site will show information for individual buildings, but Verma has also indicated that the data will be used in a separate trend analysis, conducted by CMS, to “put out some broad parameters of what we’re seeing, so that that’s easy and digestible.”
And as the industry prepares for the future, a task force has been assembled to offer guidance on safely reopening U.S. and Canadian senior care communities in light of the new challenges presented by the coronavirus. The International Council on Active Aging’s COVID-19 Senior Living Task Force consists of a mix of operators and association members and plans to provide guidance in late June or mid-July following two virtual meetings.
Task Force founder Colin Milner, who is also the founder and CEO of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based ICAA, a professional association that supports those who aspire to develop wellness cultures for adults aged more than 50 years, is ready to have tough discussions. He elaborates, “For instance, staffing. How are you going to handle staffing? Part-time? Full time? How are you going to keep your staff safe? How are you going to ensure that they or anyone else coming into the community isn’t actually bringing in some form of disease with them, whether it is COVID-19 or something else in the future. What actions do you have to take?”
I hope you find this information helpful and I will continue to keep you updated. Thank you for all you are doing for your residents and staff.