The last stage of life is generally not often on the minds of generations born after 1964 or so. Each generation tends to think about the things that occupy their day-to-day lives, after all. That’s as it should be. But no matter when you were born, from millennials to boomers and beyond. When you think about what your life will be like when you reach an advanced age, nursing homes are most often a thing of dread that 90% of the population wants to avoid. Yet, 70% of all senior citizens will need long-term care at some point in their lives.
Impact of the Covid pandemic on Nursing Homes
The COVID pandemic of 2020 brought new attention to the current state of nursing homes, with good reason. Nationally, nursing home residents and staff account for 36% of all COVID deaths. In some states that percentage jumps by nearly another 20 points. Some of the reasons for this are that understaffed, overcrowded facilities faced issues and challenges that the rest of the population could avoid. Some of these issues include residents being forced to share rooms with those who tested positive. The transmission of the virus by staff, ineffective and experimental treatments given without consent from family members, and the fact that quarantine and isolation did not effectively stop the spread of the virus.
Since the pandemic, our already dismal view of nursing homes has only worsened and many facilities have lost residents and are not receiving a steady flow of incoming residents. This along with other cost increases due to COVID have resulted in 65% of nursing homes now operating at a loss with another 25% operating at a margin of only 3%; this is obviously unsustainable long-term.
One of the greatest challenges, and solutions to becoming a more welcoming environment, is the issue of cleanliness. Twenty-five percent of Yelp nursing home reviews list cleanliness as the #3 issue, right below staff attitudes and responsiveness. Fortunately, we have the ability to make the necessary changes to make nursing homes clean and friendly. With the right changes to infrastructure, organization, and workforce, nursing homes can raise the bar to become an attractive option for senior living.
The COVID pandemic has shown us that it’s long past time to start thinking about the future of nursing homes. After all, one day, it’s likely you’ll be in one.