COVID-19 Updates

Assisted Living Facilities Receive “Very Different” Treatment From Government Than Nursing Homes, and other important COVID-19 updates



Assisted Living Facilities Receive “Very Different” Treatment From Government Than Nursing Homes, Advocates Say

ABC News (6/29, Pecorin, 2.97M) reports, “While nursing homes and assisted living facilities perform many of the same functions in service of the nation’s aging population – and both have felt the ravages of the coronavirus – they are receiving very different treatment from the federal government, according to elder care advocates.” A lifeline has only been thrown to nursing homes, “to the tune of nearly $5 billion in economic aid and federal disaster shipments of much-needed protective equipment,” while “assisted living facilities have received no direct federal help.” Leaders of the National Center for Assisted Living, Mark Parkinson and Scott Tittle, sent “a letter to the Trump administration earlier this month,” saying, “What we need now is to rally around assisted living communities like the country is now doing for nursing homes.”

In a similar piece, The San Diego Patch (6/29, 1.03M) reports, “Recently, [California] state and county officials rolled out plans for mass COVID-19 testing in nursing homes,” however, “there’s no roadmap for widespread testing in another senior care venue: assisted living facilities.” As a consequence, “in assisted living facilities there’s little asymptomatic testing of residents and staff, potentially missing those who are unwittingly spreading the virus, according to a broad swath of those in the senior care industry,” while, “in contrast, most of the region’s nursing homes have completed at least one round of universal testing.” The National Center for Assisted Living has asked for “$5 billion in federal aid for supplies, as well as expanded testing and added staffing,” because, “unlike hospitals and nursing homes, assisted living facilities were shut out of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the organization’s leadership has argued.”


LTC Workers Continue To Struggle During Pandemic

The Washington Post (6/29, Mulcahy, Shah, Jacobs, 14.2M) reports on struggles faced by long-term caregivers during the pandemic. Advocates have said “officials have been slow to act, sending inadequate and sometimes defective supplies to facilities vexed by staffing shortages and ill-equipped to control the spread of infection,” and “the fallout, they say, has been devastating.” To address staffing issues, “in some states, health officials are filling the need for aides through an online certification offered by the American Health Care Association,” and “about 38,000 people in recent weeks have been certified as temporary nursing aides.”


Wisconsin Nursing Homes Worried About Time, Money For Continued COVID-19 Testing

The Sheboygan (WI) Press (6/29, Heim, 35K) reports, “At the beginning of May, state health officials announced plans to test every staff member and resident at Wisconsin’s 373 nursing homes for COVID-19.” Now, “with that effort largely complete, health care professionals are worried about finding the time and money needed to continue testing at facilities that have proven to be highly vulnerable to the deadly pandemic.” On May 18, CMS released a “memo recommending that in addition to a baseline test, nursing home residents should be tested if they have symptoms or if a staff member tests positive, and staff should be tested once a week,” but AHCA estimated in a press release that “testing every nursing home staffer and resident in the country just once would cost nearly $440 million…making repeated testing ‘unsustainable’ without additional funding from state and federal governments.”




CDC Expands List Of Chronic Conditions That Put People At Severe COVID-19 Risk

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/29, Lasek) reports, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its list of chronic conditions that put people at risk for severe COVID-19.” Moreover, “the latest antibody testing evidence suggests that total U.S. cases are likely 10 times higher than the more than two million cases previously reported, the agency’s chief said in a Thursday call.” Although “risk increases with age,” the agency said “people of any age are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to an intensive care unit, or face health complications and death when they have” certain conditions, such as “chronic kidney disease” or “obesity with a body mass index of 30 or higher.”


CDC Offers Updated Guidance On Staffing For COVID-19 Prevention, Care

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/30, Lasek) reports, “Nursing facilities with 100 or more residents should have at least one infection preventionist on-site to manage COVID-19 care, according to new federal recommendations.” Larger operations and facilities “that provide on-site ventilator or hemodialysis services should employ a full-time, trained staff member in that position, advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in updated guidance.” Such “dedicated positions are necessary to cover all needed aspects of COVID-19 infection control, the agency stated.”


Study Finds People With Alzheimer’s, Related Dementias More Likely To Be Admitted To Low-Rated Facilities

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (6/29, Lasek) reports, “People with Alzheimer’s and related dementias are more likely to be admitted to low-rated facilities, investigators have found.” A recent retrospective study found “highly rated operations had 3% fewer newly admitted residents with Alzheimer’s than low-quality facilities.” In addition, “CNA pay was also a factor,” as “a one dollar increase in hourly wage was linked to a 0.9% decrease in the prevalence of these adults among newly admitted residents.” The research was published in JAMDA.


CMS Hasn’t Forgotten Close PDPM Monitoring, Expert Says

Skilled Nursing News (6/29, Flynn) reports, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been slow to make moves on audit demonstrations for the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM), the Medicare reimbursement overhaul for skilled nursing facilities that took effect last year.” However, “that doesn’t mean that the agency has forgotten its promise to closely monitor patient outcomes and scrutinize SNFs’ behavior under the new system, according to” one expert. The expert said that the agency “is still assessing ‘whether PDPM is being implemented in a budget-neutral manner’…and it might reconsider the case mix weights used under the payment system to try to address any issues on that front.”


Expert Provides COVID-19 Advice For Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing Facilities

In a piece for McKnight’s Senior Living (6/29), Timothy J. Holahan, DO, writes about “eight challenges or issues that leaders and caregivers in” skilled nursing and assisted living facilities “need to be aware of once COVID-19 affects residents in a facility.” For instance, in the case of “loss of key staff,” Holahan says, “We recommend finding an alternative nurse or environmental service staff member who knows the facility well to fill these roles and be available on site,” as “affected leadership staff working remotely might not be able to provide the same level of guidance and ensure adherence to guidelines as being on-site.” Holahan also recommends, “To be able to perform rapid testing of your residents and staff, develop relationships with your local laboratory directors and county health department before an outbreak to ensure that these procedures are in place.”